VCU Update #8


Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Health System

Office of the President

March 18, 2010

TO: The VCU and VCU Health System Communities
Michael Rao
VCU Update #8

Diversity and Nondiscrimination

I am very proud of the response by the university community in support of VCU’s commitment to diversity and nondiscrimination, including sexual orientation. I again thank Provost Gottfredson for his excellent work in leading the forums held last week. These forums were well-attended by faculty, staff, and students and communicated the integrity and thoughtful and caring nature of our university community. The student rally showed the region and the nation VCU’s strength as an institution of higher education that embraces and celebrates diversity of all types, including sexual orientation. The VCU Board of Visitors and I remain committed to diversity and to the university’s long-standing nondiscrimination policy that specifically states that VCU does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, political affiliation, veterans’ status, sexual orientation or disability. Please take a few minutes to review the diversity expectations that I posted on our website in January ( In our environment, we must respect and embrace our differences. We all have much to learn from others, particularly those who are different from us. The university must remain steadfast in its commitment to providing a learning environment that embraces all human beings. As the university’s real commitment to diversity is authenticated through the entire community, I again express my gratitude to all who sensitively advanced their concern for everyone in our community.


The General Assembly adjourned on March 14, 2010, having completed work on the state budget for the remainder of this fiscal year and the next biennium. A preliminary summary of how the state budget impacts Virginia Commonwealth University is available for your review: Analysis of the Impact of the Final State Budget on VCU 031510.pdf.

Based on the approved budget and pending Governor McDonnell’s signature, VCU faces in FY12 the expiration of $23.2 million in federal stimulus funding, along with a reduction of $19.2 million in state support. Additionally, our team is working with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to assess the fiscal impact of reductions to the Medicaid program on the VCU Health System, which serves many Medicaid patients.

It is very important to note that even before these additional cuts, VCU operates in the current year with about $13 million less in state support than it received 10 years ago, despite enrolling nearly 8,500 more students. While there are many indications of the pressures that extremely low revenues create, one is that the university now has only 68 faculty members per 1,000 students; ten years ago, there were 88 faculty members per 1,000 students. The university also has about one-third of the service and professional staff of its peer institutions and meets less than two-thirds of the financial aid needs of its students. The time has come for bold choices to ensure that the university is able to serve its students and Virginia well among the state’s few research universities.

Children’s Hospital

The VCU Health System and Children’s Hospital are in formal discussions to explore opportunities to jointly address the critical need for advancing the full range of specialty pediatric care in the greater Richmond area. A due-diligence process is underway to assess the financial, operational and programmatic issues involved in joining our two organizations under the VCU Health System umbrella. Read the press release at: As one of eight priority health care areas that I identified upon my arrival, I am very pleased with the opportunity to realize our potential to expand our commitment to children’s health.


CommonHealth provides a variety of free health and wellness programs to Virginia state employees and their covered family members over the age of 18 who live in their homes. It is also open to retirees. These programs help employees stay healthy and fit. Each quarter, a different health topic is offered to employees. More information on this benefit and the current quarterly program, “Fitting in Fitness,” may be found at the CommonHealth@VCU website: While wellness is important for all people, it is important for the entire VCU community to help model healthy behaviors and choices, particularly since we represent the state’s largest academic medical center.

Board of Visitors

The Board of Visitors unanimously re-elected Panny Rhodes to serve another term as Rector. Panny has been a tremendous asset during my first year. I am very grateful for her support through an unprecedented fiscal crisis in Virginia.

Online Learning

The Online Teaching and Learning and Resource Guide has been developed by the Center for Teaching Excellence to assist faculty members in thinking through the transition to online teaching. The guide consists of materials and resources to support course design, the use of technology and the development of online teaching practice. In addition, a white paper has been published on the site to facilitate a conversation exploring online teaching at VCU:

A committee of faculty, staff, and administrators are meeting this semester to consider the state of online education at VCU and where we want to be in the future. Part of the current plans includes supporting a cohort of faculty interested in developing online courses through the summer and fall with a $3500 stipend.

Information Technology

Information technology (IT) impacts nearly every aspect of our everyday lives. This is certainly true in our academic and administrative activities. VCU Technology Services and IT support units in the schools and departments provide a variety of technology tools and services to help you in your courses, labs, and offices. IT tools and services are frequently upgraded or expanded. A good source of up-to-date information about the current offerings is the Technology Services Web site: Check this site often for news and updates.

VCU Technology Services actively seeks your feedback on its services and offerings. In addition to the “Feedback” tab on their Web site, the office conducts customer satisfaction surveys annually. Survey results, action plans for critical issues identified in the surveys, and periodic progress reports are posted at:

I am pleased that VCU Technology Services is also updating its IT strategic plan — the roadmap for technology at VCU for the next five to 10 years. The office has developed draft goals, objectives, and initiatives. These proposals are currently being presented to various University constituencies for their review and feedback. The review process will continue through the spring semester and a final plan is expected by July 1. The proposal is available for your review and comments here:

VCU Health System Named to Top 50 Companies for Executive Women

The Virginia Commonwealth University Health System has been named to the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) Top 50 Companies and 10 Nonprofits for Executive Women. This is the fourth time the VCU Health System has been recognized by NAFE. The list recognizes organizations with policies and practices that encourage women’s advancement and whose numbers at the highest levels of leadership demonstrate that commitment.

Breast Health Center receives national accreditation

Providing high quality, multidisciplinary care for women with diseases of the breast, the Breast Health Center at the VCU Massey Cancer Center was awarded accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), which is administered through the American College of Surgeons.


On March 25, Dr. Clifton Poodry, Director of the Division of Minority Opportunities in Research for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), will lecture at VCU and conduct interactive discussions as part of the Office of Research and the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research’s NIH Workshop series. This workshop will run from 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in Larrick Student Center.

VCU will hold the 2nd Annual Undergraduate Poster Symposium for Research and Creativity April 28 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. in the University Student Commons Ballroom. The poster symposium has been established to show the breadth of undergraduate research at VCU, to provide students experience developing their presentation skills, and to recognize faculty colleagues who mentor undergraduates in research experiences. Last year’s symposium show cased undergraduate scholarly work and creativity submitted by 68 undergraduate students.

Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran

The Supportive Education for the Returning Veteran (SERV) program is an innovative strategy for building an environment within the academic institution that can assist the veteran to successfully transition to student life. With the passage of the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the numbers of veteran students has been growing on college campuses. VCU will sponsor two special workshops on April 14 to learn how to better serve its students who are veterans. These workshops will introduce participants to the SERV program and its potential for VCU. You can register for Session 1 at and for Session 2 at