VCU Update #3


Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Health System

Office of the President

October 16, 2009

TO: The VCU and VCU Health System Communities
Michael Rao
VCU Update #3

Here’s another update for the university and health system communities.

Budget update

On September 8th, Governor Kaine announced that VCU would be required to absorb $25.2 million in additional reductions, as part of an effort to address the most serious state budget situation in at least 50 years. For this year, the $25.2 million is expected to be offset by about $11.8 million in federal stimulus funds. We are awaiting details on additional state budget actions, such as the proposed one-day employee furlough and reductions in employee retirement contributions. With this most recent reduction, state support for VCU has been reduced by a total of $65.5 million since FY 2007-08. Reduction targets have been distributed to each vice president, and detailed plans are being developed to reduce existing budgets by the amount assigned. Those plans will be brought to closure in November.

The university is also beginning to plan for how it will respond long-term to the serious challenges posed by declining state support. With that in mind, I have charged the academic vice presidents with assembling a representative group from VCU’s key constituencies to help develop a financial plan for FY 2010-11 through FY 2012-13. This will inevitably assist in setting priorities based on VCU’s mission as a research university and from competing objectives included in VCU’s strategic plan, VCU2020. I remain deeply concerned about our faculty, and in particular about how the number of faculty can be increased. Financial assistance for our students is of equal concern.

VCU named a top 25 “Best Neighbor” University

Virginia Commonwealth University has been named a Top 25 “best neighbor” university for a second time in a national survey that recognizes revitalization, cultural renewal, economics and community service and development. The survey pointed to VCU’s implementation of a nationally recognized engagement program, “VCU Community Solutions,” that included the 2008 40th anniversary “40 Acts of Caring” awards to projects, activities or initiatives that partnered VCU employees, students or alumni with local, regional or national/international communities. The “Saviors of our Cities: A Survey of Best College and University Civic Partnerships” was announced at the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU) conference in Philadelphia.

VCU Health System again among “America’s Best Hospitals”

The VCU Health System for the third consecutive year ranks among “America’s Best Hospitals” according to U.S. News. The VCU Health System specifically was noted in the 2009-2010 annual report for excellence in heart and heart surgery, ranked 44th in the country. It also ranked 44th in the country for treating people with kidney disease, 45th in the country for orthopedics and 20th in the country for rehabilitation. The VCU Health System was the only medical center in Central Virginia to be ranked in the report. It was one of 174 medical centers to be ranked among the best out of survey of about 4,800 hospitals.

NSF ranking

The National Science Foundation released its FY ’08 data on academic research and development funding. VCU Research & Development expenditures rose 11% to $148.7M and VCU’s national ranking is 108. Federal R&D expenditures rose 6% to $95M, and VCU’s rank is 104.

Year of the Environment

VCU announced The VCU Year of the Environment, a year-long series of events that will highlight the leading contribution that universities can make to increasing awareness of and improving sustainable practices. A kick-off event took place at the VCU Rice Center on October 1. All events and activities are being publicized on VCU’s on-line “Calendar for the Environment” so be sure to follow this site for the many workshops, lectures and other happenings available to VCU and the greater Richmond community. University-wide involvement is vital to ensuring that this initiative promotes the mission and values of VCU, and I commend the many students across the campuses who have already participated. Please consider being a part of this Saturday’s Carver neighborhood cleanup. To find out about the events and other Year of the Environment happenings, visit the Web site at

Green Report Card 2010

The College Sustainability Report Card was released last week. VCU has continued to improve its score, rating a “B” overall. For the first time, VCU was designated a Campus Sustainability Leader, which means that in all the campus rating factors – administration, student involvement, food and recycling, climate change and energy, transportation, and buildings – VCU had an A- average. Only 80 of 325 institutions achieved this designation. To see the breakdown of the ratings and compare VCU to other VA schools and SCHEV peers, visit

Dining Center

VCU’s Shafer Court Dining Center has been named a Dining Hall of Distinction by University Business Magazine, which praised the dining center’s abundant food options, warm atmosphere and environmental sustainability, among other qualities. The Dining Center, which is operated by ARAMARK, was the winner in the Public Institution category. University Business Magazine chose four winners out of 65 higher-education institutions from across the country. VCU was the only public institution to receive the honor.

Crime statistics

The Clery Act requires universities participating in federal financial aid programs to publish information about crime on and near their campuses. Between 2007 and 2008, crimes against people, such as assaults and robberies, have decreased and property crimes, such as theft, have increased. The Clery report is available at, and the annual security report at [PDF].


With H1N1 flu now widespread in Virginia, VCU and the VCU Health System are implementing plans to deal with student, patient and employee illness. A steady stream of students with flu-like symptoms has visited University Student Health Services over the past several weeks; none of the cases has been serious. As of today (Oct. 16), Student Health Services reported 110 probable H1N1 cases since the start of Fall semester. VCU and the Health System conducted seasonal flu vaccination clinics in September, and Student Health Services continues to offer seasonal flu vaccinations at both campus clinics during walk-in immunization hours while supplies last. The VCU Health System began H1N1 vaccination clinics for health care providers this week, and Student Health Services will announce clinics for students when the H1N1 vaccination is available. Faculty have implemented contingency plans for completing course work in the event of student or professor illness. H1N1 updates are available to the university at and the VCU H1N1 hotline at 828-9011. The VCU Health System is working with the Virginia Department of Health and area health systems on a regional public education campaign advocating flu prevention tips, including vaccinations, and information on when to seek medical attention.