President’s Posts

Michael Rao, Ph.D.

Earlier this month, I gave a talk at the Association of Public Land-grant Universities’ annual meeting in Denver. I attend this conference most years, but this year it felt different – because it seemed like everywhere I turned, VCU was engaging people’s attention.

We were one of four finalists nationwide for APLU’s 2022 Degree Completion Award, which recognizes public universities that are increasing degree completion rates while improving educational access, quality and equity. 

VCU also earned APLU’s Innovation and Economic Prosperity University designation. The IEP designation is awarded to universities that are committed to significant and sustainable economic engagement. 

These recognitions speak to our mission to increase access and deeply engage our communities. I’m grateful to everyone whose tireless work and dedication powered these accolades.

Prioritizing your well being

While at APLU, I was invited to help lead a discussion about the mental health of staff and faculty – something that has continued to be on my mind. The American Psychological Association (APA) last month published a survey that said more than a quarter of U.S. adults say they’re so stressed they can’t function. 

Meanwhile, the APA says mental health providers are in increasingly high demand, as more people seek treatment for anxiety and depression than before the pandemic. 

I’m very concerned by those statistics – and by the anecdotes I hear across campus and the health system that tell me our folks are stressed and anxious, too. And, I’d be remiss to not mention that I’m concerned about the stress levels faced by our providers, including those supporting the mental health of others.  

We talk about having a culture of care; that means a culture of empathy as well. I expect all of us to treat each other with civility, professionalism and respect – and yes, with empathy and consideration for others. 

Let us remember that kindness is a choice we can make every day – and that we should extend that kindness to ourselves as well. Finding time for self-care and recharging helps us be mindful of what is truly important in our lives. VCU students and employees can find mental health and wellbeing resources – including our new TimelyCare virtual care tool – at VCU Health team members can find resources on the intranet.

Thanksgiving is an opportunity to focus on gratitude. I am grateful for you. You are what makes VCU all of what VCU is to so many people.  Please  have an enjoyable Thanksgiving, and accept my warmest of wishes from my family to yours.

Categories 21st-Century University, To VCU, Uncategorized