President’s Posts

Michael Rao, Ph.D.

Official seal for VCU in black and gold.

To the VCU and VCU Health System Communities:

Virginia Commonwealth University proudly champions diversity and inclusion as a core value, and engages in initiatives that create and nurture a dynamic and inclusive learning environment in which individuals of differing cultural backgrounds, identities, abilities and life experiences are embraced, engaged and empowered to drive excellence and success.

Every person and organizational unit recognizes and contributes to the advancement of an inclusive environment, which is an integral part of VCU’s mission. Annually, the university honors individuals or organizations who have made significant contributions toward enhancing VCU’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by presenting the Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment.

As such, I am pleased to ask for your nominations for the 2020 Presidential Awards for Community Multicultural Enrichment (PACME). The awards will be presented on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, at 3:00 p.m., in the University Student Commons, Commonwealth Ballroom.

To recognize members of our university community for their outstanding service, four separate awards are given:

  • Academic and Administrative Leadership Award (includes administrators, directors, and university organizations)
  • Faculty Award (includes teaching, research, and adjunct faculty)
  • Staff Award (includes classified, hourly, and part-time staff, and university and academic professionals)
  • Student Award (includes graduate and undergraduate students, post-docs, and student organizations)

Each award winner will receive $500. In addition, one of the four recipients will be selected to receive the capstone award – The Riese-Melton. This special award is given for contributions made in advancing cross-cultural relations. The awardee will receive an additional $250 gift.

The Riese-Melton award is a long tradition at VCU and is named for two pathfinders in our institution’s history who dared to reach across the racial divide during less enlightened times. Dr. Walter J. Riese served as professor of neurology and psychiatry at our medical center. During his tenure, he championed the rights of African American employees during a time when it was unpopular to take a stand. One of these employees was Mr. Herman Melton, who worked at the medical center for more than 50 years. We continue the award because it reminds us of these individuals in our own past who created a culture of diversity that endures to this day.

Nominations should be submitted electronically, and are due on or before March 6.

Instructions and the nomination forms can be found on the Office of the President’s site,

Please help to recognize the members of our community who create a more inclusive community by nominating a deserving individual or organization at VCU for the PACME award. The creation of a more diverse and inclusive educational community can only be achieved through a concerted effort that engages the participation of a broad and diverse community of people. Thank you for taking time to nominate your fellow colleagues, students, and organizations, and for supporting my personal passion to advance inclusion at VCU. Your dedication to embracing diversity and inclusion at VCU is appreciated.

Best wishes,

Michael Rao


VCU and VCU Health System

Categories 21st-Century University, Community, Diversity, Health, News, To VCU
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