VCU Update #4


Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Health System

Office of the President

November 17, 2009

TO: The VCU and VCU Health System Communities
Michael Rao
VCU Update #4

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

Budget Update

The VCU Board of Visitors received a sobering report about the budget during its regular quarterly meeting on November 12.  It is clear that the board shares my concern relative to sustaining VCU’s important mission as a major public research university in light of current revenue streams that include continuing, significant reductions in state support.  Finance Vice President John Bennett will arrange presentations before the end of the fall semester for the Faculty Senate, the Staff Senate, and the VCU and MCV Student Government Associations, so that these university leadership groups can ask questions and share information about VCU’s budget challenges with the entire university community.  More information on dates, times and locations will be forthcoming from the groups once they are made final.

Our advocacy with elected officials, legislators, business leaders, alumni, donors, community members, and other stakeholders remains focused on the importance of recruiting and retaining the strongest staff and faculty members at VCU.  VCU must continue to diversify revenues through fund-raising, partnerships, and increased engagement with alumni, business leaders, boards and trustees, and all the members of the VCU community.  We also seek to more closely partner with the state in support of the case for greater support of higher education.

As difficult choices become inevitable, information from students — gathered through student input, including recent surveys — and faculty and staff will be used to help VCU make decisions.  I very much appreciate the university community’s support and continued enthusiasm for VCU and its future as a national-caliber university. 

Opportunity VCU

The leadership of the VCU Alumni Association and the MCV Alumni Association of VCU recently accepted a challenge that has been talked about with local alumni throughout the Richmond area.  On November 6th, the alumni associations kicked off “Opportunity VCU” campaign with the goal of raising $50 million for undergraduate and graduate scholarships and graduate fellowships across all academic units.  Raising these funds over the next few years will help elevate the academic profile of the university and provide much needed aid for the best and most motivated students who wish to attend the University, which is especially vital during these tough economic times.  Alumni association leadership fully recognizes the need for collaboration and looks forward to working closely with deans, directors of development and foundation boards, and the entire VCU community to achieve this goal through a series of structured area campaigns conducted throughout the nation.  Learn more about Opportunity VCU.

Facilities Construction Projects

Several construction projects will be completed in the next month at VCU.  The MCV Larrick Recreation Center has recently opened with its full service Starbucks, and the full food service venue will be opened in the spring semester.  The Cary Street Recreation Center is expected to be complete about 3 months early, and also open in the spring semester; this 125,000 square feet venue will include four basketball courts, two swimming pools, over 250 pieces of fitness equipment, an indoor track, two racquetball courts, and a multi-purpose gym.  The conversion of the former Ukrops Supermarket, 500 Academic Center, is nearing completion and will include six classrooms ranging in size from 52 seats to 84 seats, while another portion of the building will be used for library stack storage for low demand books.  The relocation of these library stacks will allow for expansion of technology and study space onto the second floor of Cabell Library.  Additionally, the One Stop Student Center, located on the first floor of Harris Hall, which will provide convenient academic services in one location for students, will be ready for the spring semester.  View some of these projects on the RAMCAM, or check for updates on these and other projects in the planning stages.  

Year of the Environment Student Kick-off

Update #3 included information on The VCU Year of the Environment, a year-long series of events to highlight the leading contribution that universities make to increasing awareness of and improving sustainable practices.  A university-wide kick-off event, including broad community involvement, was held at the VCU Rice Center on October 1.  On Wednesday, November 18, from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., students will be holding a “Year of the Environment Student Kick-off” event on the Commons Plaza, which will be divided into four quadrants, one for each season of the year.  Green Unity for VCU, a student organization devoted to promoting environmental awareness and education, the VCU Student Government Association, and the VCU Center for Environmental Studies are collaboratively sponsoring the event, which includes free food, educational activities, games and prizes, a rock climbing wall, a DJ, and more — rain or shine. Additional information is available at  Also, to get more information or to volunteer, e-mail or view the group’s Facebook page at Green Unity 4 VCU.

National Association of Schools of Dance Commendation

The National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD) Commission on Accreditation has accepted the University’s latest progress report and commended VCU and the Department of Dance and Choreography for “creating an innovative and unique program that has benefited the department and attracted a new population of students.”