With the help of a relaunched initiative and a few dedicated students, Jim Coleman, Dean of VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences, is determined to bring his 14,000-student school closer together.
Coleman’s brain child, The Leadership Council for the College of Humanities and Sciences, is an initiative intended to strengthen unity among students and departments, increase the college’s sense of identity and promote interdisciplinary exchange, communication and academic excellence.
Currently, the college includes the School of World Studies and the Robertson School of Media and Culture, as well as 24 subject areas and 15 science and liberal arts departments and programs.
“My favorite part thus far has been witnessing the effective consultation that goes on during council meetings and encountering the diverse array of ideas that our Representatives bring with them from their respective departments,” said Sameen Meshkin, one of the council co-presidents.
Although Coleman originally launched the initiative in fall 2013, the council underwent a leadership change in spring 2014, and now consists of 19 students representing a dozen different departments within the college.
Danarubini Ramanan, co-president of the council alongside Meshkin, said the leadership organizes meetings and information about the college through feedback from students and faculty, shares findings with the dean’s office, provide resources for events and project planning and collaborates with the SGA for fundraising initiatives.
Mounika Abbareddy, the council’s student treasurer and fundraising chair, said some in-progress initiatives include a college-wide research fair, gala event, graduate workshops and panel speakers.
Abbareddy also credited Coleman’s committment to the goals of the council, Gregg Johnson, the College’s Communications Director, and Robert Tombes, the faculty advisor, for providing invaluable guidance thus far.
“Sameen and I worked closely with Dean Coleman and Mr. Gregg Johnson all of last year to plan out the goals and structure of the council. We regularly held student focus groups with CHS students, CHS academic organizations, Dean Coleman and Mr. Johnson,” Ramanan said.
Ramanan said these focus groups gave the group a better sense of what students liked about VCU and the college, how they thought interdisciplinary exchange could be improved and what the purpose of the council could be to fulfill their vision for the college.
Ramanan said Johnson helped recruit students to serve on the council by reaching out to department heads in the college for their nominations of students.
After conducting an application and interview process, up to three students were selected as representatives of each major in the college based on the size of their given major.
The co-presidents said it took nearly a year satisfy Coleman’s intended objectives and gauge student feedback before relaunching the council in Spring 2014. They declined comment on what prompted the change in leadership.
Ramakin said the council is still seeking student representatives from the departments of chemistry, statistical sciences, LSEE, history, political science and sociology. She said the council welcomes student feedback and will soon be creating a google form for students to submit their opinions on improving the college and what they’d like to see the council accomplish.
“I am very much looking forward to witnessing this increase in identity and unity that we are working hard to achieve,” Meshkin said.
Interested students can email [email protected] for more information.