Making the grade


Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Health System
Office of the President

Nov. 4, 2010

TO: The VCU and VCU Health System Communities
FROM: Michael Rao
SUBJECT: Making the grade

Virginia Commonwealth University students, faculty, staff and alumni can be proud of recent recognition in scholarship and sustainability. The Chronicle of Higher Education announced VCU as a top producer of U.S. Fulbright Scholars among research universities. With five faculty awards for this academic year, VCU ties with Harvard and Stanford, among other prestigious research universities.

VCU goes green logo

VCU is the only college in Virginia to receive a grade in the A range from the national Green Report card — an independent evaluation of sustainable campus operations. VCU received an A- and is considered to be one of 52 overall college sustainability leaders in the U.S. and Canada.

The City of Richmond’s AA+ bond rating is attributable largely to VCU, according to Moody’s. The national rating agency states that the area’s economy “has gained strength from education and health services, anchored by VCU, which has invested $665 million in the city’s downtown since 2006.”

In the meantime, the university is conducting a survey to get a clear picture of VCU’s economic impact on the region and across the state. If you haven’t done so yet, please take 5 to 10 minutes to complete the survey by Nov. 16. The results will reinforce the significance of the more than 55,000 students, faculty and staff members in the economic vitality of the Richmond area.

Building the faculty

Recruitment is underway for 94 tenure-track positions to be in place for the 2010-11 academic year. Many thanks to all of my colleagues who are working to help ensure that we recruit into these positions the very best and most diverse people who are firmly committed to the research university mission.

Diversity at VCU

Recruitment efforts provide an opportunity to improve the diversity of the VCU faculty, and are part of the overall diversity plan, additions to which will be presented to the VCU Board of Visitors for approval at its quarterly meeting next week. The additions include a goal to enhance student diversity and community partnerships. The diversity expectations I issued more than a year ago remain stronger than ever. Diversity is a hallmark of VCU that truly differentiates us as an institution of higher education.


VCU 2020 Recalibration

VCU 2020: A Recalibration of a Vision for Excellence

The final VCU 2020 Recalibration forum to gather input from the university community about VCU’s strategic plan is scheduled for Nov. 8. Next step in plan development — work groups consisting of faculty, staff and students are being pulled together to begin developing strategies and associated metrics for each of the major themes of the draft plan Get Adobe Acrobat Reader. I expect the revised plan in January 2011, with the final plan to be presented to the Board of Visitors for consideration in May 2011.

Leadership update

VCU 2020: A Recalibration of a Vision for Excellence
Niraj Verma, Ph.D.

Dr. Niraj Verma is the new director of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. Dr. Verma is an internationally recognized expert in urban planning and public management and comes to VCU from the University at Buffalo.




Service excellence

Deborah Weir with president Rao
Dorris Douglas Budd award winner Deborah Weir with VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.

The recent annual service award receptions and the Dorris Douglas Budd award ceremony were wonderful occasions to recognize superior service and commitment to VCU by staff and faculty members. An integral part of service excellence at VCU is maintaining the highest levels of ethics and integrity in pursuit of academic excellence. A good way to keep updated on policies and best practices about ethics and compliance at VCU is to read the online e-newsletter The Compass from the Office of University Compliance.



Learning and living environment

Members of the Movers and Shakers
James Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., (center) VCU Parkinson’s Disease Center director, with David Reynolds (left) and Charles Bryan, members of the Richmond-area advocacy group, the Movers and Shakers

VCU and the VCU Health System celebrated the opening several new facilities that enhance student and faculty learning, research and patient care. These include the newly renovated Center for Human Simulation and Patient Safety, the VCU Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Multidisciplinary Research and Clinical Center and a major facelift of the School of Pharmacy’s Smith Building.

Construction on the new School of Medicine building continues, with caisson work underway for about the next six months. Building erection starts soon on the West Grace Street Parking decks, and site work has started on the Laurel Parking deck at Grace and Laurel streets.


Research update

The results are in and VCU achieved a record $255 million in sponsored research awards in fiscal year 2010.  VCU will look to improve upon that total this academic year, with increased effort towards interdisciplinary research. A good example of that is VCU CERSE, the VCU Center for Rehabilitation Science and Engineering. CERSE is a close partnership of the VCU schools of Medicine, Allied Health Professions, Education, Engineering and Social Work, along with external partners including the state Department of Rehabilitative Services and the McGuire VA Medical Center.