To the VCUarts Community,

I am writing to update you regarding an incident that took place on October 25 in our Painting and Printmaking department at the School of the Arts, which led me and my administration to ask VCU Equity and Access Services to conduct an inquiry into the matter.

The inquiry has now concluded, and in the coming days, I will be meeting with the parties to discuss the results and also briefing the administration. To the extent that I am permitted by VCU’s policy and the law, I will keep you updated about this situation.

Regardless of what I may or may not be able to say about this specific situation, I think this is an important moment at VCUarts. I want to let you know that I have heard you and that we, collectively as a school and as a community, need to work harder to create an environment where no one feels marginalized or unwelcome. Too often, those who have been subjected to overt or implicit bias have had to stand alone to challenge systemic oppression. VCU must be a place where those voices are heard and supported.

As President Rao has so eloquently stated, “Our diversity makes us one.” The School of the Arts has always been a place where we welcome, value, and celebrate diversity in all of its forms; support thoughtful, informed and inclusive action; and are committed to empowering community values in which individuals of different perspectives, life experiences, cultural backgrounds, and social identities are welcomed. This is our diversity statement and this is the community we are committed to creating, upholding, and advancing.

As a community, we are not always perfect. Even though it is difficult, during the times when our values and our community are challenged, I ask you to see these moments as an opportunity. It is an opportunity for all of us—and especially for those of us in positions of power and privilege—to speak louder, work harder, and energize a stronger commitment to our shared values, so that we may continue to build together a community that embodies the very best of our ideals.


Shawn Brixey
Dean | School of the Arts
Special Assistant to the Provost for the School of the Arts in Qatar
Professor | School of the Arts
Affiliate Professor | College of Engineering


November 9, 2018