Letter from the dean’s office

Susan Gooden, Ph.D.
Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D.

Dear Friends,

Fall is always an exhilarating time on college and university campuses across the country as we begin the new academic year. While the pandemic remains with its many twists and turns, we are ready to continue transforming those challenges into opportunities as the Wilder School leads the way in public service excellence through our teaching, research and service.

As you will see in the pages that follow, the Wilder School faculty, staff and students have accomplished much this past year. The Wilder School is now ranked No. 1 among schools of public affairs in the commonwealth of Virginia and ranked in the top 15% nationally, at No. 38 by U.S. News & World Report. This includes specialty rankings of No. 19 in social policy, No. 28 in urban policy and No. 34 in public management and leadership.  

I hope you enjoy reading about the accomplishments of our faculty, including the publication of books and articles, as well as receiving national awards. Our newest institute, the Research Institute for Social Equity (RISE), undertook important work with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to research and directly impact vaccine equity in the Commonwealth. You can read out that work in Their Best Shot.

Led by our namesake, Governor L. Douglas Wilder, our VCU Wilder School Commonwealth Poll was selected as a 2020 Presidential Poll by CNN and our poll has been an important source of public opinion in the upcoming Virginia statewide elections this fall. We also hosted numerous virtual events, webinars and symposia, including our new monthly Lunch and Learn virtual series, which included a conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Michael Paul Williams, who discussed dismantling the legacy behind Richmond’s Confederate symbols. I hope you will enjoy the excerpts in Verbatim

The critical work of our Racial Equity Action Plan (REAP) continues. This includes an exciting new Wilder School book project, "The Triple Pandemic: Implications for Racial Equity and Public Policy," a focus of the Research and Scholarship work group. The forthcoming volume and its important topics was also the focus of our annual Wilder School Symposium this fall, hosted by Governor Wilder. 

For the 2021-22 academic year, we welcomed 1,000 undergraduate students and nearly 200 graduate students.  Focused and innovative recruitment efforts have resulted in a 15% increase in our fall 2021 graduate enrollment. We are pleased to have 11 Wilder Graduate Scholar Fellows in the field this year.

With determination in hand, the Wilder School will continue to meet the challenges of the day, as we work to train the next generation of public servants, continue our important research, and partner with policymakers to address critical social issues. There is always much to be done, and we are ready to get to it!


Best regards,

Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D.
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Virginia Commonwealth University

Fall 2021 / In this issue