President’s Posts

Michael Rao, Ph.D.


Dear students, faculty and staff,

Congratulations on ending a spring semester that began with COVID challenges but ends with the expectation that we will be together again this fall. I am pleased to share with you a message of optimism and celebration as we end the academic year on a high note.

Despite personal, academic and professional obstacles, you have been relentless in your pursuit of excellence. And it is the pursuit of excellence — the striving for it — that helps us become our best selves.

Because VCU is committed to making college degrees accessible and affordable, I am grateful that the Board of Visitors approved a 2021-22 budget with no tuition increase for in- and out-of-state undergraduate, graduate and professional students. This is the third consecutive year the board has voted to freeze undergraduate tuition, and is possible thanks to careful and strategic budgeting and increased support from our wonderful legislative partners.

The board also voted to increase some mandatory student fees by $153. The increased fees will support multiple areas of the university, including technology, advising, mental health and veteran services.

The budget adopted by the board also includes an average 5 percent raise for eligible university faculty and staff, effective July 1. This well-earned and well-deserved raise reflects our faculty and staff’s resilience, tenacity and commitment to provide the best student experience in the most difficult of circumstances.  Many thanks to our state legislative and executive level partners for contributing to VCU’s ability to award this raise to eligible members of the VCU team.  

I offer my most sincere gratitude to our faculty and our staff for their dedication, focus and flexibility in uncertain times.  

Celebrating Today and our Future

What a year for our students!  We all pulled together to make this academic year possible.  Tomorrow, we will celebrate the outstanding achievements of our students, including the 5,200 who will graduate.

As expected, VCU students demonstrated fierce resolve to complete their courses — and their degrees — with distinction, despite the pandemic’s unbelievable stress and challenges.

Among our outstanding graduates are aspiring entrepreneur Jay-Dee Samonte, lifelong learner and world traveler Joyce Swenson, former rodeo champion Sara Holston, and Jordan Howard Thomas, whose engineering degree is a tribute to his grandfather 27 years in the making. 

Learn more about the Class of 2021 here.

VCU is also embarking on one of the most transformative six-year capital plans in our history. The plan will promote innovative transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary achievements; increase student enrollment and persistence; enhance VCU Health patient experience and healing; and support community partnerships. 

Projects in the plan are prioritized by need, and, due to the density of VCU’s urban campus, some projects in earlier phases must be complete or underway before projects in later phases can begin. I hope you are as excited as I am about how our growing campus is evolving to meet our student, faculty, staff and community needs. 

We have also launched a six-year strategic research plan to guide our research priorities. The plan, developed by faculty and staff members, will help to advance societal impact through investments and commitments made in research and development, specifically in disparities among people as well as population-based research including community engagement. 

This has been a challenging but successful semester thanks to a university and health system community committed to working together. Through continuing our safety and health measures — and with COVID-19 vaccines more widely available than ever — we know that this fall we will be ONE VCU: Better Together

During the next several weeks, we will share more information about what to expect this summer and fall as we transition to a more robust on-campus experience. 

Please take a few moments to reflect and take pride in what you have accomplished this semester and the good you have done for each other and humanity as valuable members of the ONE VCU family.

Thank you for how you have honored our mission.

With high regard,

Michael Rao
President, VCU and VCU Health System

Categories 21st-Century University, Community, Periodic update, To VCU
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