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Letters from readers (Spring 2023)

The Monroe Park Campus’ first computer center, Terry Austin’s farewell concert, and a William Howard Taft reference

A sampling of notes from readers over the past months …

The Cary  Street Gem

Just a quick note to say I enjoyed your article on “The Franklin Street Gem.” It brought back a few memories, as does the history of Cary Street Gym, where President Taft once spoke. The entire campus has changed since I roamed those streets. The Village Cafe is still there, though. — Jan Norris (B.S.’90)


A note to congratulate the magazine team on a beautiful publication. I loved the profile on Terry Austin (my husband played at his farewell concert!) and learned a lot from the interview with Carlos Smith. I can honestly say this is the first university-related publication I’ve actually sat down and read — and my husband got his master’s and Ph.D. at two different universities, so we get a lot of them! — Ariana Estes (B.S.’09)

Very nice, but you missed something

Really enjoyed your article entitled “The Franklin Street Gem.” In the section “A Misfit With a Story,” you mentioned the “gym became a hub, home to physical education, art classes, offices, student dorms, a swimming pool, wrestling rooms, and basketball courts that doubled as concert venues.” Omitted were mentions that the building also housed the School of Business and dean’s office and the first computer center on the Monroe Park Campus. In addition, Barney Groves, Ph.D., initiated a daily noontime faculty health program in the gym. It was so popular that [VCU] President Warren Brandt and I received certificates for completing 1,000 miles of running way before the running-for-health craze began. I could go on with many other activities that took place in that GEM of a building. — Edwin E. Blanks (B.S.’62, M.S.’66), business professor emeritus

Course correction

I was not a good college student. In 1960, the University of Denver “suggested” I take a couple years off to “mature.” I did and returned to graduate. It was a few years later that my wife and I moved from [Los Angeles] to Richmond, where she began to pursue a master’s in social work. Her fellow graduate students often met in our Monument Avenue apartment. I began to think maybe I, too, could be a graduate student. With their encouragement, I walked into Franklin Street Gym at registration time and sat down with who I recall was the business school dean. He suggested I take a couple courses. I got two As, checked back with him, and he, looking at me with a smile, said, “I knew you could do it.” I will always remember his comment and wish I could recall his name. Thank you for the article about Franklin Street Gym. It brought back memories and inspired me to thank that VCU business school dean. He enabled me to find a course in life. — Edward Ned Porges, Ed.D. (M.B.A.’76)