An inspiring start to the new year

Dear VCU community,

Welcome back!

Our new academic year is off to an inspiring start. I was pleased to join many of you at Ram Camp, Move-In Day, New Student Convocation, and several other events throughout the first week. And already, you have renewed my energy and given me a glimpse of the many ways we will advance our mission in the new year as one of the nation’s premier public research universities.

We come from across the world to a university unlike anyplace else. What we do here together—the discoveries we make, the answers we pursue, the creative innovations we pioneer, the ways we dedicate to equity and mobility for all people—creates the model for what a 21st century research university can be.

As we begin this work together again, we have much to look forward to.

This fall, we welcome more than 30,000 students, including 6,000 new undergraduates beginning their academic careers at VCU. About 57% of our new students are from minority populations, making this the most diverse class in VCU’s history. And 32% percent of our new students are the first person in their families to attend college. I am proud that we continue to educate and graduate more first-generation and Pell-eligible students than our peer institutions in Virginia combined. No matter where they begin, our students face an exciting future:  Since 2012, both our 4- and 6-year graduation rates have improved by more than 14 percentage points, and both now exceed the national average.

We comprise a community with diversities seen and unseen, and we commit to the success of all of our people. In other words, we truly are the place where American Dreams come true.

In this new year, our students will continue succeeding in amazing ways, and we will continue fueling their success. This includes through our largest-ever capital campaign, the Make It Real Campaign for VCU. So far, more than 105,000 donors have supported our campaign, including nearly 32,000 alumni who have given to support our future alumni. Collectively, the investments in the work we do continue to transform our university and empower those we serve.

Our progress is also fueled by a strategic plan and facilities master plan that come together to ensure our community of scholars can achieve whatever they imagine. In parallel, Vision by Design builds upon the successes of our educators, clinicians, researchers, and caregivers at VCU Health who commit to a commonwealth that needs them. Because of their dedication and excellence, our inpatient satisfaction scores climbed 17% last year, and we are now in the top quintile of all academic health systems nationally.

VCU is a remarkable institution in so many ways; this is only a snapshot of what we have achieved together and what we will celebrate together in this new year.

Wishing you breakthroughs and unbridled success. Wishing you a great year ahead.




Michael Rao

President, VCU and VCU Health System