VCU moves forward in new academic year


Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Health System

Office of the President

August 31, 2010

TO:The VCU and VCU Health System Communities
Michael Rao
VCU moves forward in new academic year

Welcome back to the 2010-11 academic year. This is a challenging, yet exciting, time for VCU as we embark on new, grand initiatives designed to enhance the student experience and engage the entire university in its research mission. There is nothing like a research university and its commitment to learning through research — engaging students and faculty at all levels in discovery and creative expression

VCU is off to a tremendous start, enrolling about 32,250 students this fall including 3,650 freshmen. The freshman class continues the trend of increased academic quality, with a higher average of SAT scores and grade point averages than the previous year.

First day of classes, Aug. 26, 2010
First day of classes, Aug. 26, 2010

VCU remains one of the largest and most diverse universities in the commonwealth. It also continues to educate more Virginia residents than the state’s other public universities, with 88 percent of the freshman class from localities across Virginia.

In the midst of continued economic uncertainty, VCU is stable. Revenues from the tuition increase, to just below the average of four-year public colleges and universities, will be used in part to hire more than 90 additional faculty members. This semester, 57 new faculty positions have been filled and nearly 300 course sections that will be opened during the academic year to address instructional needs. Additionally, institutional financial aid has been doubled to provide access to students who have the greatest need, the ability and motivation to attend VCU.

Please visit for answers to questions about how VCU uses tuition dollars. Budget information will be updated regularly on the Budget Update website.

VCU 2020 Recalibration

VCU 2020: A Recalibration of a Vision for Excellence

In order to address many of the challenges facing the university, the VCU 2020 Recalibration Task Force worked hard over the past 10 weeks to re-examine VCU’s strategic plan. The Task Force has completed an interim report [PDF]. The entire university community will have the opportunity for input into the final plan. The Board of Visitors will meet in the next few weeks to review the report. Focused discussions with key leadership groups such as the Faculty and Staff Senates and SGA will be conducted this fall as well as university-wide forums for students, faculty and staff. Look for regular updates on the Recalibration website at

Learning and living environment

VCU goes greener this fall and also more convenient with several energy efficiency and money-saving projects including zip cars, carpooling incentives and solar hot water. The sustainability projects are part of VCU’s Climate Action Plan and moving VCU forward as a model for sustainability.

West Grace Street Parking decks
West Grace Street Parking decks
Laurel Parking Deck
Laurel Parking Deck
West Grace Street student housing
West Grace Street student housing

Students will enjoy a much-needed improvement to their academic work space with the opening of the Learning Commons in Cabell Library. The 13,000-square-foot expansion provides a state-of-the-art study and computing environment that supports small group collaborative study.

Construction begins this fall of the West Grace Street student housing building that will include a parking deck and space for retail outlets. The 162,000-square-foot student housing building will provide 459 beds. It also includes living-learning space, providing an academically based community building experience for students and faculty that focuses on community engagement themes. The new facility, located on the south side of Grace Street between Shafer and Laurel streets, primarily will house upper classmen. The 212-space Laurel Parking Deck also will accommodate street level retail outlets. The Laurel deck is expected to be completed in July 2011 and the West Grace Street housing completed in summer 2012.

Construction began this summer on the West Grace Street Parking decks, located east of Belvidere St. on the north side of the 400 block of West Grace Street. The parking decks will provide about 750 parking spaces and are expected to open in summer 2011.

Construction of the new School of Medicine Building will begin in mid-October. Demolition of the A.D. Williams building concludes this week, with site preparation underway for the next 40 days. Building completion is expected in spring 2013.

Leadership update

I am pleased to welcome the following individuals who have been appointed to the VCU Board of Visitors and the VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors:

VCU Board of Visitors

  • Kamlesh N. Dave, M.D., FACC, of Chester; cardiologist and president, Heart Care Associates, P.C.; member of Gov. McDonnell’s transition team – economic development and real estate
  • William Michael Ginther of Midlothian; retired corporate executive vice president at SunTrust; VCU School of Business of Alumni Board; former president VCU Alumni Association
  • Kay Coles James of Midlothian; president of the Gloucester Institute; former director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • Alex McMurtrie Jr. of Midlothian; attorney in the Law Office of Alexander McMurtrie; VCU Foundation Board member
  • W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S., of Richmond; president of W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S., and Associates Ltd.; former rector of the VCU Board of Visitors; former member of the VCU Health System Board of Directors

VCU Health System Authority Board of Directors

  • Katherine Elam Busser of Richmond; executive vice president and chief operations officer of Capital One
  • Anton J. Kuzel, M.D., M.H.P.E., of Richmond; professor and chair of Family Medicine at the VCU School of Medicine
  • Lakshmi Challa of Richmond; managing attorney at Challa Law Offices PLC
  • John O’Bannon III of Richmond; neurologist; delegate, 73rd District, Virginia House of Delegates
  • Robert M. Blue of Richmond; senior vice president, Dominion Resources, Inc.
  • Stuart C. Siegel of Richmond; retired chairman S&K Famous Brands; VCU Board of Visitors
  • Thomas G. Snead Jr. of Richmond; retired president Southeast Region, Wellpoint, Inc.; VCU Board of Visitors

I am also pleased to announce that Mark E. Rubin, J.D., has been appointed executive director of government relations, effective Sept. 1. Mr. Rubin most recently served as gubernatorial counselor. He has extensive experience in legislative relations and mediation as a lawyer in the private sector. Mr. Rubin also has served as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Virginia, College of William and Mary and the University of Richmond School of Law. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Moving research forward

The Virginia Commonwealth University Presidential Research Incentive Program has announced its inaugural round of internal funding awards totaling nearly $910,000 to support faculty engaged in new, emerging or continuing research. The faculty response to the program was robust, with applications covering a wide range of topics that reflect the growing base and diversity of VCU’s research enterprise.