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VCU named bike-friendly university by League of American Bicyclists

University cites RamBikes and other programs providing easier bicycle access for students as contributing factors.

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By Patrick Kane

As president of the Cycling Club at VCU, Alan Hartmann has an eye for all things two-wheeled.

“Everywhere I look, I see something that encourages cycling,” he said. “I’ve been very impressed with VCU’s desire to have safe cyclists.”

The League of American Bicyclists agrees, awarding Virginia Commonwealth University silver-level recertification as a Bicycle Friendly University. VCU is the highest-ranked Virginia college or university under this program.

“We are very pleased to reach the silver-level distinction yet again, while still holding the highest rating of any university in the state of Virginia,” said Craig Willingham, fleet and interim transportation manager in the Office of Parking and Transportation. “The certification process is not easy, which is why I am proud of our team’s efforts and dedication to this process.”

VCU was first certified in 2012, and improved to silver in 2014.

RamBikes, part of Parking and Transportation, is a major contributor to VCU’s cycling culture. RamBikes offers a workshop at 201 N. Belvidere St., where students, faculty and staff can work on their bicycles and receive help from technicians. Technicians also conduct bike safety classes, group rides, maintenance clinics and safety checks. RamBikes also oversees the university’s bike share program, housed near the Cabell and Tompkins-McCaw libraries.

Hartmann cites the Outdoor Adventure Program as another campus resource supporting cyclists of all abilities and experience levels.

“If someone’s going to say they can’t ride a bike on this campus, it’s because they haven’t tried,” he said.

The nomination process included a community survey, published in TelegRAM, on the RamBikes website and shared on social media.

“We applaud this round of BFUs for raising the standard and being innovative in making bicycling a safe, convenient and enjoyable option for students, staff and visitors alike,” said Bill Nesper, programs director for the League of American Bicyclists.

It means that we’re working together to make cycling safe and fun in the Richmond area.

VCU cycling club members compete in the racing disciplines of mountain biking, cyclocross and road cycling, but also host weekly rides starting on campus. One matches the pace of the slowest participant, making it relaxed and all-inclusive. They also advocate for opportunities for all athletes in what is generally a male-dominated sport.

“We’re trying to break down some of the barriers that, for a long time, cycling has had up,” Hartmann said. The award is “a great draw for the campus and it’s a huge compliment to the students and the school. It means that we’re working together to make cycling safe and fun in the Richmond area.”

“We will continue to build on this momentum and work to create an even larger bike culture here at VCU,” Willingham said.

The certification speaks to VCU’s commitment to alternative transportation options for those traveling on and off campus, said Erin Stanforth, VCU’s director of sustainability.

“We are extremely proud to have this recognition. It further cements our commitment to alternative transportation,” she said. Parking and Transportation staff led the recertification process.

VCU’s Sustainability Plan outlines support for cycling and cycling infrastructure as a mean of reducing single-occupancy vehicle use. VCU also earned a silver rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating Systemin 2015, earning two of two possible points in the Support for Sustainable Transportation category.

VCU hosted the Bicycle Urbanism Symposium II in fall 2015, which focused on the urban planning, public policy and wellness ties cycling.

Perhaps the biggest event on two wheels hit campus last fall, the Richmond 2015 UCI road cycling championships. It drew hundreds of international cyclists to the city and inspired several cycling-themed 1-credit courses at VCU.

“I believe that the bike race really heightened awareness of alternative transportation, specifically bicycling, in Richmond,” Stanforth said. “Many neighbors, in and around VCU, are more comfortable with active cycling on a continuous basis.”

Hartmann said drivers across Richmond are aware of cyclists, which encourages more people to ride.

“We’re trying to bridge that gap to let everyone have a say at the table, and talk about the safety issues involved,” he said. “Richmond has a huge cycling community, and they are very supportive for each other and set good examples.”

The city of Richmond, which encompasses both of VCU’s campuses, is itself rated as a bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community. Current citywide plans include 10 potential projects to improve roads for cycling and pedestrian use.

 

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RPS Summer Fest on Saturday

Join RPS students, parents, teachers, and administrators to learn more about the fall reopening plans and how to enroll your preschool to 12th-grade students.

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This Saturday, July 31 from 11 am to 3 pm, Richmond Public Schools’  will host its Summer Fest event at Broad Rock Sports Complex (4825 Old Warwick Road).  Join RPS students, parents, teachers, and administrators to learn more about the fall reopening plans and how to enroll your preschool to 12th grade students.  Summer Fest will also be full of family fun, food, prizes, and more.  Learn more about the event here.

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Ridge Elementary’s Erin Rettig named Virginia’s 2021 Elementary School Counselor of the Year

Rettig was surprised by Henrico County Public Schools leaders and members of her family at an April 30 announcement at Ridge. She will be recognized at the Virginia School Counselor Association’s annual conference in October.

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The Virginia School Counselor Association has named Erin Rettig, a school counselor at Ridge Elementary School, its Elementary School Counselor of the Year. Rettig was surprised by Henrico County Public Schools leaders and members of her family at an April 30 announcement at Ridge. She will be recognized at the Virginia School Counselor Association’s annual conference in October.

This is the second straight year the award has been presented to an HCPS school counselor. Last year Lila Hiltz of Donahoe Elementary School won the statewide honor.

“I love anything that brings attention to Ridge,” said Rettig. “It’s a very special school. It has a great school climate, it’s very inclusive. We have students from all different backgrounds and staff from different backgrounds … I love being at a school where all are welcome.

“I was very surprised … I really didn’t think about the nomination after it was submitted. I have always had the mentality that it’s students over everything — what’s best for them is the priority. So I really wasn’t doing anything different or trying to earn an award. I’m very thankful that they honored me and it really affirms the important work I’m doing at Ridge Elementary.”

Originally from Virginia Beach, Rettig joined the staff at Ridge in 2004 after earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from James Madison University and a master’s degree in school counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2020, she earned certification in school counseling from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the profession’s highest mark of accomplishment.

The annual awards for elementary and secondary school counselor of the year are based on implementation of a comprehensive school counseling program and the American School Counselor Association’s guiding national model.

In naming her the commonwealth’s elementary school winner, the Virginia School Counseling Association said, “Your application and letters of recommendation clearly showed that you not only support the national standards for school counseling within [your school division], but also advocate for the profession throughout your community. Your dedication to your students and increasing efforts at collaboration with fellow educators are admired and appreciated!”

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PHOTOS: University of Richmond celebrates in-person graduations

The University of Richmond awarded more than 1,100 degrees during a series of in-person, school-specific ceremonies May 7th through 9th.

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The University of Richmond awarded more than 1,100 degrees during a series of in-person, school-specific ceremonies May 7th through 9th.

The University awarded the following degrees:

  • 783 undergraduate bachelor’s degrees from the School of Arts & Sciences, Robins School of Business, and Jepson School of Leadership Studies,
  • 32 bachelor’s degrees and 95 master’s degrees, through the School of Professional & Continuing Studies,
  • 25 MBA degrees through the Robins School of Business,
  • and 137 juris doctor degrees from the Richmond School of Law.

The University of Richmond provided an in-person, residential educational opportunity for the entire 2020-21 academic year. Most students completed their classes in person with about 300 studying remotely.

From Chicago to Amsterdam and San Francisco to London, graduating seniors are heading to jobs and graduate schools around the world. The class of 2021 has secured jobs at highly-coveted companies and organizations, including Tesla, Teach for America, and the U.S. State Department. Students are continuing their education at some of the world’s premiere graduate institutions, including Yale, Harvard, and Oxford.

By the Numbers

  • The Class of 2021 includes 63 international students who represent 24 countries.
  • More than 230 students in the School of Arts & Sciences conducted undergraduate research in the arts, social sciences, humanities, and sciences.
  • The Robins School of Business’ Student Managed Investment Fund’s growth and value fund grew to a combined value of more than $1M this year, the first time the fund has hit this milestone since it was established in 1993. This year was also the first that Robins School students will graduate from UR with a business analytics concentration.
  • 22% of law school graduates earned the Carrico Center Pro Bono Certificate for completing 120 hours of service throughout their three years, collectively performing more than 6,000 hours of service.
  • The 81 members of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies Class of 2021 logged about 26,000 hours fulfilling their course service-learning requirements and Jepson internships. Three seniors were also named Jepson Scholars and awarded full scholarships to pursue one-year master’s programs at the University of Oxford.
  • For their capstone projects, Master of Nonprofit Studies students in the School of Professional & Continuing Studies conducted more than 2,800 hours of original research, engaging a wide range of nonprofit and civil society stakeholders in the Richmond area, throughout the U.S., and in Afghanistan.
  • Even with fewer study abroad experiences available in 2020 and 2021 due to travel limitations related to the pandemic, 61.7% (483 students) from the class of 2021 completed study abroad, research, and internship programs around the world with university support. Some of these experiences were virtual.
  • According to the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, 27 graduating Bonner Scholars logged 23,457 hours of service throughout their four years.

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