L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Supporting Students in Extraordinary Times

In an effort to help support students through these extraordinary times, the Wilder School is working to connect students with a range of resources designed to support the many dimensions of their lives, including academic financial, counseling referral and advising services. Here’s a glance at a few of those resources:

Electronic Communication

Each week, Wilder School undergraduate and graduate students receive electronic updates on the university/school response to the COVID-19 outbreak through a streamlined edition of a new publication called the "Communique.” In addition, announcements regarding professional development, funding opportunities, and internship/career information continues to be sent via the OSS Newsletter each Monday. 

Listening Sessions

Last Friday, Interim Dean Susan Gooden convened two listening sessions focused on the concerns of students adjusting to the challenges of remote learning. The Zoom sessions, targeted at Wilder School undergraduate and graduate students, also included attendees from the Office of Student Success, the school’s advising units, faculty, and Cabell Library. The topics included continued advising, experiential learning and career development opportunities, refunds and service fees, dissertation policy changes, pass/fail grading details, and graduation options. In addition, Stephanie Rodgers from VCU Cabell Library joined to share resources available to students, faculty and staff.

Below are some additional resources including emergency funding opportunities for students at VCU and the Wilder School:

VCU Cabell Library – Accessing Online Materials

Robust online services are available to support research and alternative instruction, including access to the libraries’ extensive online collections of ebooks, licensed streaming media, digitized primary resources, and journal articles. See library guide on COVID-19 for details and updates. 

Emergency Funding for Students - COVID-19

Niraj Verma Student Assistance Fund

The Niraj Verma Student Assistance Fund provides emergency funds to deserving students to aid them in completing their degree programs in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs.  


  • These funds support student needs that may not be foreseen during the academic year.
  • These funds will be awarded throughout the year to one or more full-time undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in degree programs offered by the Wilder School - at the discretion of the School’s Dean.
  • These awards are based on financial need and may be renewed. 

For more information, or to apply for this fund, contact Shajuana Isom-Payne at sipayne@vcu.edu.

VCU Student Life and Learning Fund

Administered by the Office of the Provost, the VCU Student Life and Learning Fund, which was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provides unrestricted dollars to support emergency needs of students. Emergency grants and loan funds are available to current VCU students who have experienced one of the following circumstances:


  • Unexpected travel expenses due to not being able to reside in a residence hall
  • Unexpected travel expenses to care for yourself or a family member diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Loss of income due to cut work hours, which has led to needing assistance with living expenses (i.e. housing, food, gas, etc.)

To be considered for emergency funding, students will need to complete an application and provide an explanation of their circumstances along with documentation (travel expense receipts, COVID-19 medical diagnosis, etc.). Students can apply for emergency funds through VCU Student Affairs or VCU Financial Aid.

Are you concerned about a student? 

Refer a VCU student for support: The purpose of this form (Refer a Student) is to allow VCU faculty, staff, and students a platform to communicate concerns about VCU students. Or send this form directly to students and they can submit questions or self-referral for needs (Self-Referral/Unanswered Questions).

The Provost's office will continue to send additional information. Below are two resources in particular that I’d like to bring to your attention:

Pass/Fail Option Adopted for Spring 2020 Semester 

Earlier this week, Provost Hackett announced that the VCU Incident Coordination Team (ICT) subcommittee on Academic Continuity, the VCU Faculty Senate and the Office of the Provost have finalized a temporary pass/fail grading option for undergraduate and graduate students to address the challenges of moving to a remote academic experience. Additional information, including an FAQ, is on the Spring 2020 Pass/Fail Option webpage.