Constance Relihan, Dean of University College
Constance C. Relihan became Dean of University College in July, 2018. Prior to her arrival at VCU, she most recently served as the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies at Auburn University and Director of University College. She has been committed to the continuous improvement of the undergraduate academic experience through improving general education, strengthening academic advising, and ensuring that undergraduates are provided with the academic opportunities they need to succeed. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with an AB in English, and earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota. She was a faculty member of Auburn University’s English Department since 1990, and the primary focus of her research has been on the structural nature and cultural impact of prose fiction written in England during the early modern period. She is the author of two books, Cosmographical Glasses: Geographic Discourse, Gender, and Elizabethan Fiction (2004), and Fashioning Authority: The Development of Elizabethan Novelistic Discourse (1994); and is the editor of Framing Elizabethan Fictions: Contemporary Approaches to Early Modern Narrative Prose (1996) and coeditor of Prose Fiction and Early Modern Sexualities (2003).
Felecia Williams - Associate Dean and Director of the Common Book Program
Felecia Williams was an assistant professor in the Focused Inquiry Department prior to her current academic appointment. She also was an associate professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Virginia Union University. She has taught courses in American Government, research methods, comparative politics, urban and metropolitan politics, media and politics, international relations and public administration. She also previously taught as an adjunct at the University of Richmond and at Piedmont Virginia Community College, where she was selected as a Virginia Council for International Education faculty delegate to the United Kingdom. Dr. Williams also has served in local and regional government as a program manager and administrator and has consulted with nonprofit organizations on issues of performance and program evaluation. She earned her Ph.D. from the Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University and her MPA from the University of Virginia. Her research interests include internationalization of college and university campuses, disparity issues, and issues affecting urban populations.
Melissa Johnson - Chair of Department of Focused Inquiry
Melissa Johnson began teaching Focused Inquiry as an Assistant Professor in the University College in 2007, served as Curriculum Coordinator for UNIV 111/112 from 2009-2014, and was promoted to Associate Professor and elected Chair of the Department of Focused Inquiry in 2014. She teaches UNIV 111, 112, 200, 211, ENGL 215 and ENGL/WMNS 384. Previously, Dr. Johnson was Writing Center Director and Assistant Professor of English at Newberry College in Newberry, SC where she taught composition, literature, and creative writing courses. She earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (poetry) and a Ph.D. in twentieth-century British literature and Women’s Studies from the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include the scholarship of teaching and learning, cultural studies, gender and Modernism, postcolonial literature, and poetry.
Zach Hilpert - Director of Interdisciplinary Studies
Zach Hilpert joined the Interdisciplinary Studies Program in August of 2017 after teaching in VCU’s Department of Focused Inquiry for seven years. A native South Dakotan who has made his home in Virginia for more than a decade, Dr. Hilpert earned his Ph. D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary in August of 2014, specializing in American history, urban studies, and visual culture. His diverse scholarship has explored topics ranging from the visual depiction of urban disaster in the United States, to presidential visits to the state of Mississippi. Dr. Hilpert has taught courses ranging from “Interdisciplinary Foundations” and the BIS Senior Capstone at VCU, to “The History of the American South” and “History and Memory in the Urban Landscape” at previous institutions. An enthusiastic teacher and interdisciplinarian, he works to draw real and sustainable connections between the vital skills built in the college classroom, and the world outside the university’s walls.
Harris Hall, 5116f
As the Focused Inquiry Learning Lounge (FILL) Director, Hannah Franz develops resources and programming to support student success and belonging in the Dept. of Focused Inquiry. She also teaches courses in the Focused Inquiry curriculum. Dr. Franz has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership from the College of William & Mary. Her scholarship focuses on equity and inclusion in high-impact practices, such as undergraduate research and writing-intensive courses. Her co-authored book, The Indispensable Guide to Undergraduate Research: Success in and Beyond College (Teachers College Press), is written for first- and second-year college students committed to inclusion in the academy. Dr. Franz is currently working on a Research Initiative Grant from the Conference on College Composition and Communication to create guides for students and faculty on navigating and improving the process of grading college student writing. Read her full CV.
Ciera Harris - Director of Human Resources and Finance
Ciera Harris returned to VCU in April 2019 to serve as the Director of Human Services and Finance for University College & Online@VCU / ALT Lab. With over 9 years of experience in higher education administration, she specializes in providing crucial financial and HR leadership to help drive operational efficiencies in the delivery of quality education. Ms. Harris is passionate about helping others, as well as, finding creative and effective ways to better support students, faculty and staff members. She is committed to being a life-long learner and believes it is the key to personal resiliency, innovation, and making a positive impact on your area of influence. Ms. Harris holds a BS in Business from Old Dominion University and an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University- GO RAMS!
Hope Walker - Coordinator of Human Resources
Hope Walker currently serves as the Operations Coordinator for University College. She has been with VCU in many different administration capacities since 2013. She currently provides essential support to the college in human resources personnel management, recruitment, payroll/timekeeping operations, guest travel, purchasing and financial management. She holds a BS from Liberty University and is currently working on her MBA at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Last Updated: June 24, 2019