Diversity and Inclusion Update


Dear VCU and VCU Health community,

As the spring semester closes, I write to update you on our most recent progress related to making Virginia Commonwealth University more diverse and inclusive. Most notably, the university’s draft Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan will go before the Board of Visitors this week for approval.

The Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Action Plan is an important step for VCU. It is one of many. Other progress of note:

  • Substantial upgrades have been made to the Division of Inclusive Excellence’s website, including more resources for our faculty, staff and students who are LGBTQIA+. This includes the locations of gender-inclusive restrooms at VCU; an “Out at VCU” directory; resources to help ensure the university uses proper gender, name and pronoun; and more education and training opportunities for our community. This website is now a remarkable resource for everyone at VCU.
  • We completed our diversity and inclusion climate survey, which was presented earlier this spring at the follow-up to the president’s forum on social justice. This survey shows us where we are doing well and what areas need more focus. For example, 88 percent of respondents believe that VCU is committed to diversity, 91 percent feel advancing diversity and inclusion is their responsibility, and 50 percent feel they have a voice in important decisions that affect them.
  • Side by Side, an organization supporting LGBTQIA+ youth in Richmond, honored VCU with its prestigious Catalyst Award. Specifically, they noted initiatives such as the Lavender House, Lavender Graduation and VCU Safe Zone training; several student organizations, including Queer Action, oSTEM and Medicine with Pride; and academic programs in the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies and elsewhere.
  • Recently, my senior leadership team met with a nationally renowned consultant regarding ways to ensure that diversity and inclusion are priorities across VCU, not isolated in certain areas. In parallel, a search is underway for our next vice president for diversity and inclusion.
  • More than 3,000 VCU faculty and staff members have now received Safe Zone training to help make our university safer and freer for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.
  • Building on the successes of this spring, several Building Inclusive Communities workshops are planned for the fall semester. These education sessions are designed to support our efforts to become a more engaged and inclusive campus community.


Many thanks to all of you who continue to advance VCU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. You make a real difference and make our university a better place for everyone.


Michael Rao
President, VCU and VCU Health