January 3, 2017
Center News

Every seven years, VCU Centers and Institutes undergo an extensive external evaluation process to ensure that each institute and center is contributing to the overall mission of the university. After preparation, the Center on Society and Health underwent our seven-year external evaluation on November 22, 2016. Paula Braveman, MD, MPH, Director of the University of California at San Francisco’s Center on Social Disparities in Health; Marc Gourevitch, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Population Health at New York University School of Medicine; and Henry Brownstein, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and Director of the Center for Public Policy at the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs kindly served as external evaluators.

Danny Avula speaks to Center evaluators and staff during a panel on cross-sector collaborations while his fellow panelists Alex Krist, Sheryl Garland, and Ann Nichols-Casebolt and panel moderator Steve Woolf listen in.

This evaluation offered the Center an opportunity to reflect on our past work and prepare for our future endeavors. We spent the fall preparing for the evaluation by writing a report outlining our history, mission, goals, projects, and plans for the future. On November 21, our evaluators arrived in Richmond for a welcome dinner hosted by Dr. Frank Macrina, VCU Vice President for Research and Innovation. Dr. Macrina introduced Drs. Braveman and Gourevitch to VCU and prepared all our evaluators for the whirlwind day ahead.

The evaluation day started early in the morning with an introductory breakfast presentation by Center Director Steven Woolf. Over the course of the day, Drs. Braveman, Gourevitch, and Brownstein toured the Center office suite and saw several presentations by staff on topics ranging from community engagement and strategic communication to advanced analytics and sustainability. The evaluators also asked questions of two panel discussions on the Center’s contribution to cross-sector collaboration and community engagement, which the reviewers found compelling and cited as the highlights of the day. Dr. Woolf closed the presentations with a conversation about the Center’s future before leaving the evaluators to privately debrief with Dr. Macrina.

As the evaluation day came to an end, Dr. Woolf took a moment with Center staff and supporters to express his thanks and pride for the work that the Center has accomplished so far. Since its inception in 2007, the Center has received funding for 32 grants totaling $6,350,834; written hundreds of articles, issue briefs, policy briefs, blogs, and book chapters; spoken to academic, government, and business audiences; established a lasting academic-community partnership in Engaging Richmond; and connected the dots between several sectors to move the needle on health in America. The Center will continue this work to raise awareness about the importance of factors outside of health care that shape health outcomes and to explore ways to improve population health and well-being.

Community Engagement Panelists Amy Howard, Chimere Miles, Gwen Corley-Creighton, and Albert Walker, III sharing a laugh.

The Center would like to thank our evaluators, panelists, and friends who traveled near and far to be with us on our evaluation day, including Paula Braveman; Marc Gourevitch; Henry Brownstein; Gwen Corley-Creighton, Director, Richmond Promise Neighborhood; Albert Walker, III, Healthy Communities Liaison, Bon Secours Richmond Health System; Chimere Miles, Community Researcher, Engaging Richmond; Amy Howard, Assistant Vice President of Community Initiatives and the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement, University of Richmond; Alex Krist, Associate Professor, Fairfax Family Medicine Residency, Co-Director, Ambulatory Care Outcomes Research Network, VCU Department of Family Medicine and Population Health; Sheryl Garland, Vice President, Health Policy and Community Relations, VCU Health System and Director, VCU Office of Health Innovation; Danny Avula, Director, Richmond City Health District; Ann Nichols-Casebolt, former Senior Associate Vice President for Research and Development, VCU Office of Research and Innovation. We also would like to thank RaShel Charles, MPH, and the VCU Institute for Women’s Health for your guidance during this evaluation process. Thank you all for your support.