Goodbye, Greg

Greg Portrait, Illustration by Shannon Wright
Illustration by Shannon Wright
Greg Portrait, Illustration by Shannon Wright
Illustration by Shannon Wright

Below, four generations of CT Executive Editors bid their farewells to Gregory Osina Weatherford, known by many as an award-winning journalist and editor, the Director of the VCU Student Media Center at 817 W. Broad street and advisor to more than a dozen student-run publications housed therein.

But for more than a decade of VCU students, Greg is so much more than just those titles — he is a mentor, father-figure, hand-holder during panic attacks and an unwavering moral compass, just to name a few.

Here’s to 14 years of Greg’s leadership and dedication to student achievement and excellence in journalism.

We wish him nothing but the best as he transitions into his departure from the yellow brick building so many of us call, or have called, “home.” There’s no sense saying “good luck,” because we all know he won’t need it.

Greg, on  behalf of all of us, I hope you don’t shed a tear as you begin your tenure at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia today, because we collectively shed way too many upon learning of your impending absence.

Thank you for everything, from all of us.

MECHELLE HANKERSON, Executive Editor 2012-13

This is honestly the saddest thing, I almost left work to cry when Greg told us.

Anyway, I only took one class with Greg in my three years at VCU, but I spent countless hours with him at the SMC. He was always encouraging, and was one of the main reasons I felt able to take on responsibility at the SMC, in class and in other internships.

Greg was also one of the most important teachers as I grew into the journalist I am now. I’m a pretty aggressive and fast reporter — when I get information, I’m ready to run with it. But Greg has always been patient and taught me that it’s important to step back and think about facts instead of taking them at face value. That’s the difference between a good and a great journalist, in my opinion.

And Greg has always managed to be a teacher and a human toward his students, which has been so important. There aren’t many professors, advisors — whatever you want to call him — who take a genuine interest in their students in a way that makes them feel comfortable. I liked to keep my life separate from all the work I did but there are always crazy things that happen and deep over to different parts of your life. Greg offered his help and support without pushing too hard.

It’s a little hard to explain why Greg has such an impact on his students. He knows his stuff and he’s a good guy who takes an interest in students’ lives and works.

And just a random anecdote that I feel like encapsulates Greg so well: I was in one of his project classes during my fall semester of senior year, which was one of the most hectic semesters of my college years. I was working with The WaPo, it was the 2012 election season, it was my first semester as exec with no managing editor AND I was turning 21.

In Greg’s class, I was doing my first real, long-form enterprise project and it was hard. It was a lot of planning, a ton of reporting and even more revising. One of my drafts was due the day after my 21st birthday and I remember going to Greg’s class and he was pushing me SO HARD. He wanted me to revise it a certain way and I had never done it before and I didn’t know what else I could possibly report.

But I insisted on this particular day to have class with the lights off (for obvious reasons, I had just turned 21) and he agreed. He was asking me all these questions and telling me I had to go back AGAIN and change more stuff and I remember putting my head down and saying something like “I just turned 21, you’re lucky I’m even here today.” And he was just smiling and nodding. And then kept asking me questions.

That’s Greg. Like, that was the most Greg thing Greg ever did to me.

MARK ROBINSON, Executive Editor 2013-14

I always tell people that working at The Commonwealth Times was the best decision I made as a student at VCU. It gave me on-the-job journalism experience and valuable clips. More importantly, it put me in Greg Weatherford’s orbit on a day-in, day-out basis.

It was Greg who told 20-year-old me to drive to Virginia Beach to attend the funeral of a VCU student who was killed by a drunken driver. We — journalists — had a responsibility to bear witness to the tragedy, he said. I was scared, but I went because I didn’t want to let him down.

It was Greg who guided me through a trying year as editor of the newspaper. While I was in pissing matches with the university’s public relations staff, he talked me out of making decisions that would not have been fair. And, when I was nearing mental breakdown as a senior, it was Greg who tipped me off to an opening at Richmond magazine, where I’ve worked for the last 18 months.

Working with Greg made me a better journalist and a more compassionate person. He was the best teacher and mentor I’ve ever had, and I’m sad that other clueless, overconfident, ambitious students who walk into the Student Media Center won’t have the chance to learn from him the way I did for four years.

CYRUS NUVAL, Executive Editor 2014-15

I’d like to think that I’ve become wiser and much more principled ever since I met you.

You taught me the necessity of a free press for our kind of society to work.

You taught me how powerful truth and honesty can be in the kind of world we live in.

You taught me the importance of ethical behavior in a journalist’s professional and personal life.

You taught me that you don’t need to have studied journalism to understand the spirit of journalism.

Thank you for everything, Greg, especially for your time.

I’m glad to have met you and it was an honor learning from you.

SARAH KING, Executive Editor 2015-16


I struggled to write this signing-off piece and consequently stalled production a whole extra day trying to get out what I’m trying to say. If you were in the office today you would probably scold me, and I’m a little bruised you’re somewhere downtown today instead.

Regardless, this is the best I could do to narrate the big and small, nuanced and not, ways you’ve shaped me as a person and pulled me through 2015 — a year that proved to be the most trying of my life thus far.

When bruises began blooming on my arms and face last year, you didn’t pry — but made it clear you were there if I needed someone to talk to. When I suffered a broken nose, I remember you biting back tears. I think that was the first time I genuinely felt like I was undeserving of what I was enduring, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

Last semester, as I prepared to begin my stint as Executive, I was in a near-frenzy for the majority of the summer. You probably thought it was because of school and work obligations, or maybe I was just that neurotic about the newspaper, but we both know those notions dissipated when I came stumbling into your office one day in August and blurted out, “I need a friend.”

As I sat in your office, I began telling a twisted narrative by fumbling my words — unsure of how, or where, to begin. But as the words came together to form the story explaining the last year of my life, I distinctly remember feeling very calm sitting before you. I told you about how I slowly, then all at once, grasped the nature of living with and loving an addict.

I tore through sharing the injury of losing someone — watching husks form — from the bowels of silver spoons, the air of disassociation, manipulation and crack smoke wafting through the vents of my apartment. The pain of physical injury, unleashed temperament and reluctance to give up on the shell of someone. I told you about my arrest, and coming face-to-face with greed, guns and no glory in the kitchen. I think I began to sob when I finally reached the climax — a culmination of events that intertwined and seemed to explode on that otherwise warm summer day.

“The feds are about to raid our apartment and arrest him,” I said as the tears started forming. I thought about how much I hate crying in front of other people. I thought about how I had left our apartment that morning, shortly after he stumbled through the door — the marked conclusion of a night-long binge — and fell asleep on the couch.

I told you about how I had looked at this man who I felt so inexplicably connected to, fearful for; someone who had stirred within me the type of “fearless alone” James Baldwin writes of, after forcing me to embrace so many months in ideological isolation, had barred me from feeling any form of connectedness to my peers. I had told him I loved him before walking out the door to the SMC that morning, and now, I had just learned he would be wakened from his sweating slumber to guns pointed at him, and a federal indictment being read aloud as handcuffs clicked into place.

In that moment of sheer desperation — I remember looking up at you, your mouth a little ajar, and thinking that it would be okay. That I would be okay. For the first time in more than a year, I genuinely felt like someone understood what I was saying and was not judging me for my age or by my decisions. I felt like you understood, maybe not the exact elements of my situation — but still, the underlying, abstract and conceptual human elements of the story. Together we were focused on a practical solution for the rapidly unfolding moments in time.

As I begin a new semester, I often think back on that day in August. I think about how I felt paralyzed day-in and day-out, for months, following his arrest. I was evicted from that apartment shortly after. I stared at a growing number of assignments and calendar days — constant reminders of the weeks I’d forgone attending class.

And despite the so many ways  my waning academic performance could have easily been perceived as disappointing, or failure, you guided me through from the periphery, unconditionally.

You taught me to embrace failure. You told me to take ownership over the conditions we can and can’t control. You dragged me by the collar to counseling when you realized I wouldn’t go on my own. You pushed me to persevere even when I didn’t think I had it in me to get up in the morning.

But I did, again and again, because the yellow brick building on Broad street was and is my home — it was a safe haven and escape from the immortalizing feeling of guilt that stripped me of any willingness to face my past. You helped me understand that sometimes all you can do is learn to let go.

This newspaper is the one thing I have thrown myself into wholeheartedly. For months, I felt like it was the only life-line I had left. It was liberating to pour over every aspect of this publication for hours on end, days at a time — to nurture copy and expand our print, digital and personal creative capacities.

When you said you were proud of our work, growth and achievements I felt a stinging in my chest that I hadn’t felt in a long time. Gratification? When you told me this was perhaps the strongest the CT had been in years, possibly ever, I felt only a renewed, more keen, sense of purpose.

For the last three years, I had looked up to my predecessors — Mark, Cyrus, and although her legacy was before my time, “the reign of Mechelle.” For every day I had awoken at dawn to escape the hellscape that was my home, for every night I was grateful the day was over — I never allowed myself to lose sight of my obligations to the CT.

Between bruises and missing chunks of flesh from my fingers, I had scrutinized my section as news editor. Despite the painful, often grueling, introspective process of synthesizing the self, I did my damndest to build and rebuild and build higher this publication as executive editor.

And throughout it all, you never let me falter. For every hare-brained idea I came storming into your office with, I never felt anything less than respected as a peer. I think since that day I told you I needed a friend, you saw something in me and knew I was capable even when I didn’t know it.

When I said I was going to redesign the website, and I didn’t know the first damn thing about WordPress, you told me to make sure the color scheme was consistent and the server didn’t crash. When I said I wanted to start a summer camp for kids whose parents are incarcerated, you didn’t even bat an eye as you gave me guidance on where to start.

For someone as blunt and wise as you are, you allowed me to take unprecedented risks with this publication while somehow securing my psyche.

When I sat in your office two weeks ago and you told me you had just accepted the position at SCHEV, I thought I was going to cry. But then you told me that you wouldn’t be leaving if everything at the SMC wasn’t “in a good place.”

Jacob, Sam and Mark have a good handle on the finances and operations; the advertising and design staff will be fine; “And you know you can handle the paper,” you told me.


“I’d like to think I’ve taught students how to do things themselves, and take ownership of the process, rather than just do it for them,” you said to me as I sat there reeling.

“Teach a man to fish,” I said blankly, and you smiled.


Greg, Thank you for the tips and tip-offs, books, wisdom, hard truths, advice, guidance, expertise and mentorship. Thank you for teaching me, and so many of my peers, friends and predecessors how to fish.



  1. What a lovely tribute to someone not only wonderful as a teacher and mentor but also visionary about what students and VCU itself can become. He had so many ways of looking at evolving media and giving VCU students–from any major, any part of the university–a chance to explore what newspaper, magazines, radio, and more can do. I often asked myself how one person could be doing so much. In his quiet way, he helped amplify VCU’s renown and reputation–not just through the scores of state and regional awards his students won every year but also by laying a solid groundwork of professional-level journalism right here on campus. A great teacher and remarkable colleague.

  2. I don’t know what would have become of INK magazine without the guidance Greg was able to give me during INK’s rebirth into the mega arts and fashion magazine it was when I left and still continues to be today. I can recall many times sitting in Greg’s office and him always asking me, “What is INK?” Even after I graduated I still came back and sat down again and again in the same chair telling him about the newspaper I run today in the small rural county of Westmoreland, and he still gives me the helpful advice he always gave when I was a student. I’m very happy for you Greg and I’m sure you won’t stop being a mentor to many up and coming journalists for years to come.

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