Fall semester sets rigorous pace for 2010-11 academic year


Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Health System
Office of the President

Dec. 14, 2010

TO:The VCU and VCU Health System Communities
FROM: Michael Rao
SUBJECT: Fall semester sets rigorous pace for 2010-11 academic year

December 2010 Commencement

Congratulations to our 3,100 fall semester graduates, and a special thank you to my faculty colleagues for their exemplary research and teaching that continue to produce outstanding student success. Some examples include the VCU School of Business team that recently placed in the top 5 in the national College Fed Challenge and the recognition of VCU’s Department of Interior Design as one of the 10 best undergraduate programs in the country.

Commission on Higher Education and VCU 2020 Recalibration

The 2011 General Assembly session is fast approaching and lawmakers will consider the governor’s proposed budget amendment for an additional $50 million for higher education. This is a down payment on the initiatives recommended by the governor’s Commission on Higher Education Reform. In general, the recommendations focus on providing Virginia students with the tools necessary to obtain top flight jobs. The commission’s report encourages enrollment growth in four- and two-year institutions, increased funding for research and development, enhanced use of technology in instruction and more student financial aid. The goal also is to create a stable funding mechanism for higher education in the future.

The recommendations closely parallel the major themes of the VCU 2020 recalibration plan and their potential strategies, such as the recruitment of eminent faculty, acquiring research-related equipment, intellectual property commercialization, seed funding to jump-start research, transfer agreements with community colleges, innovative course redesign, increased student financial aid and more. The Recalibration Task Force has established four work groups focused on the proposed themes that will provide recommendations of strategies to accomplish the goals. The Task Force will provide an updated report to the president in January and to the Board of Visitors at its February meeting.

VCU’s research mission advances

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced late last week that his formal budget recommendations will include a $5 million budget amendment to support the expansion of research at the VCU Massey Cancer Center. That announcement came on the heels of a $6.5 million award from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for VCU’s Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, Department of Psychology, to work with the City of Richmond and Richmond Public Schools on reducing youth violence in Richmond. The VCU School of Education has received a $5.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to improve science teaching and student learning, especially in high-need schools in Central Virginia. The VCU School of Medicine has received a second Donald W. Reynolds Foundation Grant worth about $1 million to train medical students in geriatrics.

Youth Violence Prevention Grant announcement ceremony, Dec. 1, 2010

Etti Baranoff, Ph.D., associate professor of insurance and finance, has been appointed as the research director of the Geneva Association insurance and finance program. Kathleen Graber, assistant professor of English, and two alumni from the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Anna Journey and Allison Titus, have received National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowships. VCU and two of its international partner universities have received nearly $1 million to create a transatlantic degree in cinema and language.

A total of 90 applications involving 118 faculty members were submitted in the second round of the VCU Presidential Research Incentive Fund (PRIP). The applications represented every VCU school, the College of Humanities and Sciences, Life Sciences and the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies. Sixteen PRIP awards will be made. With the PRIP allocation and the matching dollars from the awardees’ units, more than $650,000 will be allocated to faculty researchers through the PRIP program.

Another milestone for Children’s Hospital of Richmond

Pediatric emergency room ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dec. 8, 2010

Less than six months after the VCU Health System and Children’s Hospital joined to form Children’s Hospital of Richmond, a new pediatric emergency room is now fully operational. The $4.2 million pediatric emergency room is the only one in Central Virginia to offer 24-hour pediatric specialists for the care of critically ill and injured children.



Leadership update

David Sarrett, D.M.D.

David Sarrett, D.M.D., is the new dean of the VCU School of Dentistry, effective Dec. 1. Dr. Sarrett had served as interim dean since earlier this year.

The search for Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is underway. The position was posted Dec. 2 and the search website is available at http://www.positionsearch.vcu.edu/provost/index.html.




Grateful tribute

John Fenn, Ph.D.

I want to note the passing of VCU’s Nobel Laureate, chemistry professor John Fenn. Even at 93 years of age, Dr. Fenn never slowed down in his zeal and enthusiasm for learning and discovery. He truly represents the great potential that exists at so many levels at VCU, and we will never forget him for that.