Dear VCU Faculty and Staff:

I write today to share with you a student-centered decision to extend the implementation of VCU’s racial literacy requirement and the steps we will take with our faculty, through the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UUCC) to better position the institution to enact this requirement.

Two years ago, the UUCC adopted the racial literacy requirement with an intention to develop and approve courses across the university’s academic units students could take to meet the requirement, which was to begin in the fall of 2023. To date, only two such courses have been created and are being offered currently:  CSIJ 200 Introduction to Race and Racism in the United States and AMST 216 Reading Race. These classes are still available, just not mandatory.

As of the writing of this message, approximately 700 students are enrolled in those courses for this fall, which will proceed as planned.

The university needs more courses, and more course sections, to offer before this requirement can be fully implemented. When you consider the typical number of entering, first-time students and transfer students, VCU has an annual need of approximately 5,000 student seats. We cannot, in good faith, require of students something they have no opportunity to meet.

We will work with the UUCC, when they convene in just a few weeks, to develop an academic planning framework to consider university requirements. This shared governance process will inform not only this particular issue but also other curriculum decisions bearing university-wide implications.

We encourage and support the efforts of faculty members to create additional courses, and to continue collecting data for assessing the impact and learning outcomes of their courses. Such data will allow the university to examine implementing this new requirement while ensuring sufficient capacity for our learners to meet the obligation being placed on them.

By extending the implementation of this requirement, we forge an opportunity for VCU’s academic community to work together to create the necessary course capacity our students need to meet this requirement.

The racial literacy requirement was created and adopted to advance VCU’s Quest 2028 strategic plan which calls for the university to “nurture an institutional culture and climate that is diverse, inclusive, equitable and engaged,” and to ensure that “all students engage in inquiry, discovery, innovation, experiential learning, civic engagement and creative expression to prepare them for the future of work.” 

I want to thank the VCU Student Success team who has reached out to students enrolled in CSIJ 200 and AMST 216 to explain this change to the requirement, and that the course can satisfy the ConnectEd Diversities in Human Experience requirement, if needed.

In closing, I want to thank you for all that you do for VCU and the students we serve by working together.


Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.

Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Categories Academic Affairs, Provost, Racial Literacy