VCU Office of Health Equity

You can count on us to be VCU's hub for health equity initiatives in the learning, training, research and patient services environments at VCU and VCU Health. 

Understanding health equity principles is the first step to improving health outcomes. We're working to infuse health equity principles into education, training and research to remove barriers that create health inequities  those related to geography, education, and social and financial resources.

Our mission

We are driven to develop and implement initiatives at VCU and VCU Health that introduce the principles of health equity into education and training, research, and patient services activities.

As the hub, we connect the talent and expertise that exists at the university and the health system with that of community organizations to develop and build partnerships focused on addressing health inequities and disparities. We hope our work will substantially reduce the negative impact of defined social determinants of health. We'll do this by:

  1. Preparing health care professionals, including VCU Health team members, and students to apply the knowledge and principles of health to their everyday work.
  2. Increasing the quantity of high-quality equity research that generates new knowledge for the community and related disciplines.
  3. Expanding the capacity for VCU, VCU Health and community partners to collaborate and address health inequities.

Message from the executive director

Sheryl Garland is the executive director of the Office of Health EquityVCU Health’s mission to preserve and restore health for all people of Virginia and beyond means engaging with patients to address their overall health — not just their condition, illness or injury. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition is also a mindset, and adopting it means addressing barriers, such as economic and social hardships, and removing obstacles that prevent our patients and community members from living the healthiest lives possible.

In 2016, VCU and VCU Health joined with community members to develop the Health Equity Initiative to help improve health for populations and communities by integrating the principles of health equity into our mission through patient care, education and training, and research. In June 2021, the Health Equity Steering Committee determined that the core mission had been achieved, however, the projects and initiatives launched needed ongoing management and support.

Our team is pleased to take on the management of this initiative and build on these prior accomplishments by continuing to develop educational programs and activities, expand on the university and health system’s initiatives to address social determinants of health that impact the communities we serve, and increase the quantity and quality of health equity research.

I encourage you to connect with our team, as we look forward to continuing our vital work of addressing health equities together.

Thank you,

Sheryl L. Garland, MHA, FACHE
Executive director, VCU Office of Health Equity
Chief of health impact, VCU Health System

East Marshall Street Well Panel Unveiling

Join us Friday, Sept. 24 at 12:30 p.m. 

VCU leaders and members of the East Marshall Street Well Project Family Representative Council, planning committee and implementation committee will participate in the ‘unveiling’ of four panels outside the Kontos Auditorium telling the history of the 19th-century human remains discovered in an abandoned well on the MCV Campus. The unveiling will be followed by a facilitated discussion/engagement.

Registration and more information about the Unveiling event is available here.



VCU Health Sciences students bow their heads in front of the ancestral remains of individuals recovered from the East Marshall Street Well during a prayer given by Del. Delores McQuinn. Nov. 25, 2019.