Divisions of the VCU Center for Public Policy

Ph.D. in Public Policy
and Administration

Survey and Evaluation
Research Laboratory

Virginia Center for
Urban Development

Management Group

Transportation Safety
Training Center

Grace E. Harris
Leadership Institute

Commonwealth Educational
Policy Institute

Commonwealth Poll

Virginia Family Impact

Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration 
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The purpose of the Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Administration is to prepare students for scholarly and leadership roles in government, universities, research organizations, and other settings where knowledge and research skills in public administration and policy are needed. The Ph.D. program is committed to accomplishing this mission by creating a broad spectrum of academic disciplines.

The Ph.D. program is structured around a core curriculum designed to provide a solid foundation for the pursuit of theoretical and applied research in administrative and policy studies. The program offers three concentration areas in health policy, public management, and urban policy. Students in the program often have the opportunity to participate in the ongoing research projects of the Center. 

Survey & Evaluation Research Laboratory 
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The Survey & Evaluation Research Laboratory (SERL) conducts surveys and provides research and evaluation support for governmental units, public and private non-profit agencies, the mass media and for VCU's faculty and administration. The SERL's research enables clients to:

  • provide accurate descriptions of citizens' attitudes and behaviors to advance the understanding of society;
  • to obtain information based on scientifically valid surveys so that the researcher may determine the needs of specified populations;
  • to plan new programs that address major social issues;
  • to monitor the implementation of health, mental health, and educational programs; and
  • to evaluate the outcome of social service and other related interventions.

Virginia Center for Urban Development 
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The Virginia Center for Urban Development (VCUD) was originally created by the Virginia General Assembly and is now a division of Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Public Policy.  

It's purpose is to enhance the development of Virginia's urban areas by:

  • providing basic and applied research on areas of critical importance to Virginia's rural areas
  • providing a permanent base through which the resources and expertise of Virginia's colleges and universities can be assessed and utilized for matters relating to urban development and revitalization
  • providing assistance, technical support and training to community groups and local and state government officials involved in urban development matters, and
  • by bringing together policy-makers, business leaders and community groups to focus on cooperative approaches to revitalizing Virginia's urban areas.

The Center's staff members are available to conduct statistical modeling, perform economic impact analyses, develop industry profiles, and design geographic maps for business and government clients. 

Performance Management Group  (PMG@VCU)
previously known as the "Office of Public Policy Training" 
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The Performance Management Group (PMG) augments the public service mission of the Center for Public Policy by addressing the special training, research, and technical assistance needs of government and nonprofit organizations in the Commonwealth.  PMG fulfills its missions by designing and arranging a variety of activities such as training programs, conferences, colloquia, seminars, technical consultations, data management and analysis, and survey research.  In addition, this group offers management training for personnel at all levels of government and nonprofit organizations, and technical assistance for enhancing the quality of community life.

PMG conducts its activities in a manner that is collaborative, interdisciplinary, and non-partisan.  It is committed to meeting the needs of its clients by tailoring programs to identified needs, by maintaining a competitive fee structure and by offering flexibility in scheduling and site delivery. 

Transportation Safety Training Center  
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The Transportation Safety Training Center (TSTC) was established in 1971 to assist Virginia's local and state transportation safety agencies and organizations with attaining their transportation safety goals through training, curriculum development and technical assistance. Each of TSTC's faculty provide regionally conducted training and technical assistance in matters related to transportation safety. The TSTC works closely with local police and sheriff's offices, policy training academies, fire departments, hospitals, and other interested groups to provide up-to-date training and technical assistance. The TSTC provides software to aid localities with the analysis of local motor vehicle crash data. The TSTC is home for the Virginia Crash Investigation team that investigates selected highway crashes. Data from these investigations are used by highway safety professionals to improve the driving environment for citizens of the Commonwealth. 

Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute 
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The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute was established in 1991 in honor of  Dr. Grace E. Harris's 32 years of service to Virginia Commonwealth University. As former Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs she was the highest ranking  women and African-American in VCU's history. The Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute helps to promote the development of current and emerging leaders in academic institutions, other public, private and nonprofit organizations, and communities. The Institute is committed to identifying and nurturing the next generation of leaders who will impact public policies and institutions.

Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute
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The Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute is a joint venture between the School of Education and Center for Public Policy. The institute is committed to the expansion of public dialogue and participation in the important issues facing K-12 public education. The institute provides research, analysis, training and service to education policy-makers, school systems, citizens and the larger school community.

Commonwealth Poll

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The Commonwealth Poll is a public opinion survey of Virginia residents conducted by the VCU Center for Public Policy. The first Commonwealth Poll was conducted in 1985. Questions about upcoming elections and public policy issues facing the state are asked regularly. Custom-designed questions can also be added to the Commonwealth Poll, in order to meet specific needs of a client.  Each survey is administered by telephone with a randomly-selected sample of adult Virginians. Interviewing is conducted by a staff of professionally trained, paid interviewers using computer-assisted telephone interviewing software.

Virginia Family Impact Seminars
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Family Impact Seminars were created to better connect research and policy in an effort to promote a family perspective in policymaking. The model includes developing a partnership with key state legislators to join with university faculty in identifying family related state-level problems, possible policy solutions, and political feasibility. This partnership culminates in a topic specific annual seminar, with briefing reports and discussion sessions, and serves as a resource for state policymakers by providing them with access to nonpartisan, solution-oriented research on a current policy issue that they are actively debating, such as education, health care, mental health care, and child care. For example, the 2008 Seminar focused on truancy and dropout prevention policies. An executive summary and briefing book from the seminars are available on the VFIS website.