President’s Posts

Michael Rao, Ph.D.

Dear VCU Community,

Welcome to the start of the Fall 2021 semester!

Though we begin this academic year in the continuing shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will not be defined by it. Our One VCU: Better Together plan is guiding how we create a robust campus experience in ways that promote and protect our individual and community health.

As of today, more than 90 percent of students and 86 percent of faculty and staff have reported vaccinations, a remarkable achievement that far surpasses the national vaccination level. Thank you for supporting our plan, which is based on the expertise of our own medical and health leaders and local, state and national experts.

We will adapt our plan based on pandemic conditions and the advice of our medical and health care partners. Please stay vigilant and alert throughout the semester.

VCU has designed welcome back events across campus, and I am really excited to be in Monroe Park at 4 p.m. today for our new student convocation, after which we will conduct our traditional Ram Spirit Walk across campus.

My confidence in the success of this semester starts with each of you and the resiliency you have demonstrated throughout the pandemic. Supporting the success of all students is the heart of our mission at VCU — as evidenced by our student graduation rate increasing last year despite the challenges of COVID.

That increase is a testament to the talent and tenacity of our students and the dedication and determination of our faculty and staff to help students achieve their goals.

I am also proud of how our institution lives its commitment to providing students the best possible experiences, including academics, health and wellbeing, safety and financial.

For example, VCU has distributed more than $39 million in emergency COVID relief funds to students, and this spring was lauded for removing barriers standing between students and funding. Additionally, our Board of Visitors voted to freeze tuition for this academic year, the third consecutive year we have done so for undergraduate tuition.

In the State of the University address earlier this year, I spoke about my hopes for the fall. At that time, I said the fall semester “may not be exactly the way it was pre-COVID, but it will be much closer to what we’ve known. And, in some ways, it will be better than the previous normal because of what we have learned and experienced together that provides greater insight, compassion and hope for the future.

May our insight, compassion and hope guide us all in our pursuit of a successful fall semester. I look forward to seeing you on campus in the months ahead.

Thank you … and Go Rams!


Michael Rao
President, VCU and VCU Health System

Categories 21st-Century University, Community, Health, Periodic update, Uncategorized