VCU reflection room promotes student wellness
Free Press staff report | 12/7/2023, 6 p.m.
A new, multipurpose space on the second floor of Virginia Commonwealth University’s James Branch Cabell Library will provide students a quiet area for meditation, contemplation and prayer.
The Reflection Room is an extension of VCU Libraries’ StudyWell campaign introduced in 2021 to support students returning to campus life following COVID-19 closures. StudyWell’s programming focuses on the connection between students’ health and wellness and their academic success. The roughly 400-square-foot Reflection Room is designed to be a calming environment where students can take a pause to restore their mental and spiritual balance.
“Our Reflection Room is a space that recognizes that being a student today is an extremely stressful experience,” said Kelly Gotschalk, who led fundraising for the project as VCU Libraries’ director of development and major gifts. “This Reflection Room is a place, a physical reminder, to stop, check in with themselves, see how they feel [and] practice mindfulness.”
The $370,000 project was first envisioned by John Ulmschneider, former dean of libraries and funded entirely by donations — donations that Ms. Gotschalk said were spurred on as a way of honoring Mr. Ulmschneider when he retired in 2020 after 21 years at VCU.
Since opening this semester, Laura Gariepy, associate dean for research and learning for VCU Libraries, noted that the Reflection Room already has seen plenty of student use.
“We’ve been pleased to see uptake for the room for its intended purpose,” Ms. Gariepy said.