Yesterday, I pointed the hood ornament of my certified pre-owned, fully-optioned Buick Park Avenue south to Richmond, Virginia. It was my first road trip in months, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Before I passed historic Occoquan, about 30 minute’s ride from home in Vienna, I had written five different blog posts in my head.
BFF Robert J. Holland, consultant extraordinaire and PR adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, invited me to guest lecture to his PR principles class. VCU is a remarkable institution. It is the largest university in Virginia and ranks among the top 100 universities in the country in sponsored research.
VCU has about 32,000 students in 205 certificate and degree programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-five of the programs are unique in Virginia, with many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 15 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University compose the VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers.
The School of Mass Communications offers a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications with specialization in one of three sequences — advertising, journalism, and public relations. The school offers three graduate programs – multimedia journalism, strategic public relations, and advertising through the VCU Brandcenter.
One of the coolest things about VCU is its location. It is situated on two downtown campuses in Richmond. I taught in a building adjacent to the historic Fan district, an 85-block Victorian residential neighborhood immediately west of Richmond’s downtown commercial area. It is a lovely area with a cool modern classroom building effectively and unobtrusively set near colorful Victorian homes. The juxtaposition works well, with architectural styles complimenting, never detracting, from the others.
According to the Fan District Association, most of the homes in the Fan were designed and built by a few local architects and contractors. A wide variety of styles and building treatments contribute both to the Fan District’s distinctive quality and cohesive identity. Among the styles represented are Italianate, Richardson Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival, plus Tudor, Second Empire, Beaux Arts, Art Deco, Spanish, Gothic, Bungalow, and the American Arts and Crafts Movement.
The Fan District was a fashionable address through World War II, but as with other cities, over time many of the homes were subdivided or faded from their once glorious state. Fortunately, the Fan has seen a renovation and revitalization boom in past years due to its attractiveness and close proximity to Richmond’s commercial area.