L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs



Welcome to the 2023-24 Academic Year!

Dear Wilder School Alumni, Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to the 2023-24 academic year! As we step into the Fall semester, we do so full of pride for our numerous achievements and in anticipation of yet another first-class year at the Wilder School. 

As we greet our students — both newcomers and those returning — we remain steadfast in our journey, celebrating our continuing success as the premier public affairs school in the commonwealth and recognition among the top 15% of public affairs schools nationwide. We’re proud to reflect on the past year as we also look ahead.

Academic Excellence in Service to Society

The past academic year showed us just how much we can achieve. We stayed true to our mission of scholarship and public service, and the results are clear. We nominated faculty for 11 national and statewide awards, and we're proud to have won 8 of them, marking an impressive 72% success rate. 

Additionally, our collaborative book, "Racial Equity, COVID-19, and Public Policy," was published and several of its co-authors shared their research at national conferences across our academic disciplines. Our faculty's external research efforts attracted support from many respected organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Economic & Social Research Council (UK), the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Virginia Office of the Attorney General, the Virginia Department of Social Services, and the U.S. Department of Defense, to name a few.

Events That Left a Mark

The past year wasn't just about accolades. It was about robust experiences, connections and waves of insight — from conversations with renowned figures like our namesake Governor L. Douglas Wilder on the first heart transplant in the segregated South to conversations with British Ambassador to the U.S. Dame Karen Pierce DCMG and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. Our notable recognition of Senator Charles Robb for a lifetime of public service at the 2023 Excellence in Virginia Government Awards (EVGA) was a proud moment. Meanwhile, our CNN-recognized Commonwealth Poll continues to be an influential tool in shaping opinions and decisions across various levels of governance.

Elevating Our Standards: Legacy, Excellence, and Accountability

Our previous year's accomplishments serve not just as a testament to our capabilities but as an inspiration to scale even greater heights. We've amplified our commitment to student success, as reflected in our initiatives focused on retention and engagement. Our courses, hands-on experiences, and executive training all bear the hallmark of our dedication to molding the future of public service. Furthermore, our efforts in easing the financial strain on our students, exemplified by the establishment of the new Dr. Sesha Joi Moon Endowed Scholarship, signify our continued commitment.

Our Resolute Core

The Wilder School is proud to continue to provide leadership in making sure public policy advances the needs of all. Our commitment to equity, whether through our Research Institute for Social Equity (RISE), our academic programs, our research and service, or our community programming, continues to underscore its importance. With the forthcoming Wilder Symposium on Thursday, September 28, set to address the pressing challenges faced by HBCUs, we're reminded of the gravity of our mission and the potency of our collective efforts.

A World-Class Team

As we commence this academic year, I'm thrilled to introduce our newest members, including two new faculty in our doctoral program, Luisa Nazareno and Charity Scott.

  • Noah Bateman - Research Administrator, Survey Evaluation Research Laboratory (SERL)

  • Ryan Brown - Executive Assistant to Distinguished Faculty member, Governor Wilder 

  • Jason Burkett - Senior Research Analyst, Center for Public Policy (CPP) 

  • Robert M. Chandler - Adjunct Faculty Director, Land Use Education Program (LUEP) 

  • Vickisha D. Harris - Senior Program Associate, Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute (GEHLI) 

  • Wendy J. Hyland - Undergraduate Academic Advisor & Student Services Coordinator

  • Ronald Jones, Jr. - Event & Administrative Support Coordinator, GEHLI

  • Luisa Nazareno, PhD - Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Administration and RISE (Research Institute for Social Equity)

  • Charity Scott, PhD - Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Administration and RISE (Research Institute for Social Equity)

  • Jessica Smith - Project Director, Evaluation of Violent Crime in VA Project

A Look Ahead

As we gear up for the academic year ahead, here are some key events:

  • Wilder Symposium – HBCUs and the Absence of Support Sept. 28, 5:00-6:30 p.m., W.E. Singleton Center

  • Gulak Lecture – Cultural Expression in the Built Environment with Zena Howard, Principal and Managing Director with the architecture and design firm Perkins+Will,  Oct. 19, 3:00-4:30 p.m., University Student Commons, Commonwealth Ballrooms

The 2023-24 academic year is upon us, and the promise it holds beckons. Your unwavering commitment to our students and the broader mission of public service, especially in the face of increasing divisiveness and unprecedented challenges to democracy, is indispensable. Thank you for investing in this communal journey. 

Let’s step into this new academic year, fueled by our past accomplishments and the boundless possibilities that lie ahead. Together, we’ll answer this call with vigor as we continue to serve, innovate, and excel. 

Warmest regards, 

Susan Gooden
Dean, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs