Constance Relihan, Ph.D.

Relihan named dean for the University College at VCU

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Constance Relihan, Ph.D., has been named dean for the University College at Virginia Commonwealth University, effective July 9.

Relihan comes to VCU from Auburn University, where she currently serves as associate provost for undergraduate studies and director of University College. She has been on the Auburn faculty since 1990 and holds the rank of professor in the Department of English.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Relihan join VCU,” said Gail Hackett, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at VCU. “Her extensive experience in programs and activities for increasing student success aligns perfectly with VCU's vision for the future as well as the upward trajectory of the University College.”

Relihan has held her current position since 2011 and is responsible for a variety of programs focused on undergraduate student success including The Honors College, University College, undergraduate research, first-year experience activities and programs, the Auburn Connects! common book program, academic counseling and advising, and cooperative education.

In addition to advocating for and securing internal funding to support student and faculty success in these areas, she worked with the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project to gain approval from the U.S. Department of Education to participate in the Second Chance Pell program. Auburn was one of 67 universities selected to participate in the program, which permits inmates to use Pell funds to take courses and earn a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Relihan previously served Auburn as interim director of The Honors College, senior associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, and assistant head of the Department of English.

“I was drawn to VCU’s obvious commitment to the solid foundation and interdisciplinary inquiry that are provided by both the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree and the Focused Inquiry program,” Relihan said. “VCU’s emphasis on innovation, excellence, engagement and access mesh with my own determination to provide students with the opportunities they will need to achieve their academic and professional goals.”

Relihan holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and received both an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.