One university with one vision


VCU welcomes several new academic leaders

I am very proud that, as we continue to implement our Quest for Distinction strategic plan, Virginia Commonwealth University is one major university with one clear vision.

More and more, we are seeing our focus on high standards drive us to transform the human experience as we know it. We recognize that our future is about our people, including talented and diverse faculty, staff, students and alumni who are committed to leading in their fields. I am grateful that our greatest successes are fueled by each of you. Thank you.

We have accomplished much together as a university, and now welcome several new leaders who, in the academic year that begins in a few weeks, will help raise the bar even higher.

Earlier this month, Bill Ginther began his term as rector of the Board of Visitors. Bill, a retired bank executive, has been on the board since 2010 and served as vice rector last year. Bill also sits on the VCU Health System Authority board of directors and previously served on both the boards of the VCU School of Business Alumni Society and VCU Alumni, serving as president of the latter group in 2003. He is a founding trustee of the School of Business Foundation and is a 2000 recipient of a VCU Alumni Star award. He and his wife, Marsha, support the Ginther Family Merit Scholarship in the School of Business and many other initiatives across the university. Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1969 and his master’s degree in 1974, both from VCU.

I look forward to his counsel and leadership of the board and appreciate his generosity and service to his alma mater.

Bill Royall has also just begun his term as vice rector of the board. Bill, who has been on the board since 2011, is chairman of Royall & Company, a firm focused on student recruiting and advancement services. He and his wife, Pam, have long been tremendous supporters of VCU, especially our Institute for Contemporary Art.

Bill Ginther and Bill Royall will be joined by four new members of the board, whose four-year terms begin immediately.

  • Nancy C. Everett, from Richmond, Va., is BlackRock managing director and head of U.S. Fiduciary Management Solutions. Nancy, a VCU accounting graduate, is a founding member of the VCU School of Business Foundation.
  • Hon. John W. Snow, from Richmond, Va., is chairman of Cerberus Capital Management. John served as the 73rd U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush. He also was chairman and CEO of CSX Corporation.
  • George Richard “Rick” Wagoner, from Birmingham, Mich., is a former chairman and CEO of General Motors. Rick formerly served as chair of the Duke University Board of Trustees and is a member of several international business advisory boards.
  • Steve Worley, from Harahan, La., is president and CEO of Louisiana Children’s Medical Center, which includes Children’s Hospital, New Orleans. Steve graduated from VCU with a B.S. in business management and a master’s in business administration.

These exceptional individuals are excellent additions to an already outstanding governing board. I look forward to working with them to advance VCU as a nationally competitive research university.

I also deeply appreciate the service of those board members whose terms expired at the end of June: Rector John C. Doswell II, D.D.S.; Lillian L. Lambert; W. Baxter Perkinson Jr., D.D.S.; and Stuart C. Siegel.

The leadership of the Board of Visitors will help us move more solidly into the top 50 among the nation’s public research universities, along with the Board of Directors who govern the VCU Health System, a separate authority that includes representation from the university’s leadership. Five of the 21 VCU Health System board members also serve on the Board of Visitors.

Several other colleagues have new roles:

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson, will join VCU as a faculty member in the Department of English in the College of Humanities and Sciences, beginning Aug. 15. Claudia will teach creative writing workshops and courses in literature and poetics. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2006 for her third collection of poetry, “Late Wife,” a series of poems examining one woman’s emotional and personal overlap of past and present. In 2008, she was selected by then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as Poet Laureate of Virginia.
  • Bill Decatur, J.D., was nominated vice president for Finance and Administration and will begin Sept. 16. He brings nearly 30 years of experience to VCU, most recently as executive vice president for finance and administration at Rhode Island School of Art and Design. I am excited about working with Bill and am grateful for Pam Currey’s leadership as acting vice president during the transition period.
  • Anne Chandler, Ph.D., is interim dean of the VCU Honors College, following Tim Hulsey’s departure last month. Anne, who will serve in this role as a national search is conducted, has been associate dean in The Honors College for seven years and serves as a faculty member in the VCU Department of Rehabilitation Counseling in the School of Allied Health Professions. Please join me in welcoming Anne to her new position.
  • Hong Cheng, Ph.D., was named director of the VCU School of Mass Communications in the College of Humanities and Sciences. Hong comes from Ohio University, where he was a tenured professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His research interests center on international communication, cross-cultural advertising and social marketing, and his works have been presented at national and international conferences since the early 1990s. I am pleased to welcome Hong to VCU.


Significant recognition for VCU Medical Center

Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU garners Virginia’s first Level 1 pediatric trauma center designation

The VCU Medical Center recently celebrated two very significant successes:

We also announced that the VCU Health System is seeking approval to construct a pediatric psychiatric facility that would provide state-of-the-art clinical care for children from across the state. The current facility, which is 50 years old, will be replaced by a new, state-of-the-art pediatric behavioral health center to be built on the Brook Road Campus of Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, pending approvals, and will provide additional beds for inpatient care as well as expanded outpatient capacity.

The Strategic Advisory Committee to Consider a Freestanding Children’s Hospital has begun holding a series of public meetings to gather input regarding a VCU Health System management proposal for a freestanding children’s hospital in Richmond. The first meeting was held last week; additional meetings are at 6 p.m., Aug. 14, at the Richmond Marriott (500 E. Broad St.) and 6 p.m., Aug. 22, at The Westin Richmond (6631 W. Broad St.).

As the committee considers its options for a freestanding children’s hospital, the VCU and VCU Health System communities are invited to participate by attending these meetings or submitting feedback through the Advancing Children’s Health website.

Presidential Research Quest Fund

Presidential Research Quest Fund totals more than $850,000 to support faculty research

The Presidential Research Quest Fund, or PeRQ Fund, (formerly the Presidential Award Incentive Program) has announced its fifth round of internal funding awards totaling more than $850,000 to support faculty who are engaged in new, emerging or continuing research.

For 2013, 18 awards involving 23 faculty members received funding, supporting projects across the institution from the schools of Allied Health Professions, Arts, Business, Dentistry, Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Social Work and Pharmacy, and from VCU Life Sciences and the College of Humanities and Sciences.

The entire list of awards can be found online PDF.

This fund provides new opportunities to researchers at VCU, at all points in their careers, and reflects our growing research enterprise. Our investment is made knowing that the work that begins with the support of these resources will go on to receive significant external research funding and advance important scholarship and research.

Innovation at VCU

Virginia BioTechnology Research Park

VCU is pleased to be a significant partner of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park and has appreciated the great leadership of Robert T. Skunda, who will retire as the park’s executive director, president and CEO in December.

The BioTech Park is an authority that is a distinct subdivision of the commonwealth of Virginia. The BioTech Park is considering its new leadership and focus while VCU works in parallel to better leverage our innovations and discoveries that can help elevate the entire Richmond region.

We are working to develop an innovation system that will be an important part of our future in terms of strengthening transfer and commercialization of technologies and great ideas coming out of VCU. As we move more solidly into the top 50 public research universities nationally, this is a logical and necessary next step that aligns with the priorities of Quest. It is also a collaborative and interdisciplinary effort that relies on the academic leadership of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Beverly Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., FACSM,  and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of the VCU Health System Sheldon M. Retchin, M.D., M.S.P.H., working with all of our academic deans, and Vice President for Research Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D.

There are several resources already in place at VCU that could be shaped into an innovation system, including our research innovation functions and infrastructure, entrepreneurship resources such as the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation and those resources that have already been invested into our partnership with the BioTech Park.

I will provide more information on this exciting development soon.

Quest for Distinction

Many thanks to all of you who are advancing the values of the Quest for Distinction strategic plan. Here are just a few examples of VCU’s commitment to excellence:

Student success
Research excellence
  • A new study shows that the way children behave before they turn 5 years old may predict their alcohol use as teenagers. There are few studies that chart developmental pathways from early childhood to adolescent alcohol-related outcomes, but an international research team, led by Danielle Dick, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the School of Medicine, evaluated the impact of childhood temperament on later alcohol use and problems.
  • The Institute of Education Sciences awarded a $2.4 million grant to VCU’s Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences to examine the “efficacy of an organizational skills intervention for middle school students with ADHD.”
Human health
  • Daniel Coelho, M.D., co-director of the VCU Medical Center’s Cochlear Implant Center, is the first surgeon in Central Virginia to implant a new bone-conduction hearing device that restores hearing.
  • The National Institutes of Health awarded VCU a grant totaling $1.8 million to study the biology of allergic disease, work that may one day point researchers to the development of therapies to fight asthma, allergy and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart disease. The five-year grant will be led by John Ryan, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Biology in the VCU College of Humanities and Sciences.
Community engagement
  • Congress’ proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps, may ultimately increase premature deaths and potentially generate health care costs that exceed the budget savings, according to a new report from VCU researchers. Steven Woolf, M.D., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, is the report’s lead author.
  • Middle school students from Richmond-area schools learned firsthand about some of the responsibilities of nurses and other health care professionals while participating in a one-week community outreach program called “Jump Rope to Stethoscope.”