VCU’s Center for Urban Communities and Division of Community Engagement are merging
Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Urban Communities and Division of Community Engagement are merging to create the VCU Center for Community Engagement and Impact.
The new center will align vital resources to build on the university’s legacy of community engagement while expanding community-university partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaboration to further influence student success, scholarship and the public good.
Heidi A. Crapol, a veteran leader in the nonprofit and corporate sectors, has been appointed executive director of the center. Crapol previously served as director of the Center for Urban Communities, where she co-led development of the VCU Health Hub at 25th.
The health hub opened in May at the intersection of Nine Mile Road and North 25th Street. It serves as a health education and wellness center for residents of Richmond’s East End.
“The development of the CEI is an important step in VCU’s commitment to build upon our successes and move the university toward the transformative goals of our strategic plan. Heidi Crapol, with her vast experience and deep commitment to the community, is the right leader to take the helm of this new center,” said Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
Cathy Howard, former vice provost for community engagement, retired June 30 after 31 years leading VCU’s community engagement efforts in various roles, most recently heading the Division of Community Engagement.
Crapol said the university’s long history of excellence in community engagement, and standing as a national model, would allow the CEI to build on the successes of each unit.
Training and funding opportunities for faculty, service-learning courses and living-learning experiences for students, and neighborhood outreach programs will all remain active as CEI faculty and staff develop a strategic plan to meet the goals outlined in VCU’s Quest 2025: Together We Transform.
“I am honored to serve in this role, and to advance community engagement at VCU further,” Crapol said. “By bringing people together from across campus and supporting them in their work, we will continue to build collaborative partnerships to address our community’s needs while preparing students to become the engaged professionals of tomorrow.”