Dear colleagues:

I hope you had an amazing summer and that you’re as excited as I am to begin a new academic year brimming with promise and potential at VCU – Virginia’s Changing University. As our campuses come alive, with an increasing number of first-year students and stabilizing overall enrollment, so does our pursuit of Quest 2028, VCU’s strategic plan and our roadmap for transformation that makes our university one that matters for the future.

Student Success: Ignite student success through curricular innovation

Dozens of faculty and staff members worked together over the summer as members of the One VCU Academic Repositioning Task Force. Their charge is to consider VCU’s existing academic enterprise and propose changes to it that are future-focused, responsive to society’s changing needs, and more attractive to students. I applaud their efforts to date and look forward to the recommendations they will propose this fall, and I urge you to follow the regular updates on their progress.

In addition to the task force’s work, Academic Affairs is strengthening VCU’s shared governance practices, ensuring more voices are heard in a timely manner as they support the university’s academic strategy, planning, and innovation, and they will lead VCU  through its 10-year SACSCOC accreditation review.

Diversity Driving Excellence: Support a climate where excellence and success for all people are valued and differences are celebrated

As clearly stated in Quest 2028, VCU is dedicated to the mission of diversity, equity, and inclusion that drives the university’s academic enterprise.The recent ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding college and university admissions does not change that mission.

Further, we are committed to attracting and retaining first-class faculty members. We want VCU to be the place where our faculty comprise a diverse and vibrant community of scholars.  A community where faculty are supported to grow and realize their aspirations, and where extraordinary performance is rewarded.

Our Faculty Affairs office is launching a series of training and development sessions geared for new faculty members, term faculty members, associate professors, new department chairs and others. While many of those opportunities are designed for individuals in specific roles, some are aimed at helping faculty members become more familiar with growing trends, like the usage of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in teaching and learning. And, they are assembling a new task force of faculty members to examine and update VCU promotion and tenure policies to ensure that they evolve with the changing nature of teaching and learning.

Research: Innovate together to improve lives and address societal challenges

VCU’s rapidly-growing research enterprise has reached historical heights and is gaining national and global recognition. Last year, VCU received more than $400 million in sponsored funding, a 49% increase in just five years and the highest figure in the university’s history. And the 2021 NSF Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) survey ranked VCU in the top 50 public research institutions in America, the highest ranking VCU has ever achieved.

That success carries with it tangible benefits. The VCU Rice Rivers Center, in partnership with NASA, recently hosted scholars from across the nation for an unrivaled experiential learning opportunity. Thanks to a $19 million Gates Foundation grant, VCU’s Medicines for All Institute is working on 14 new global projects, using innovative manufacturing to improve affordable access to life-saving drugs for people around the globe. And the VCU Massey Cancer Center has earned the most elite designation possible from the nation’s principal authority on cancer research and training, placing Massey in position to influence new standards of care through research, education and community engagement.

Thriving Communities: Solving social and health inequities in partnership with communities

VCU’s Division of Community Engagement is now part of the Office of the Provost. In support of their important work, we will soon seek representation from all academic units to a newly-formed Community Engagement Council to support the alignment of community engagement activities across VCU.

As integral parts of the Division of Community Engagement, the VCU Health Hub at 25th and the Mary and Frances Youth Center exemplify VCU’s place-based assets, offering invaluable educational and wellness programs to East End residents and Richmond youth, respectively. These assets offer invaluable opportunities for student experiential learning and serve as conduits for engaged research partnerships between faculty and community members.

Throughout the course of the coming year, I will continue to communicate with you regarding these priorities, and others, on our office’s blog.

Beginning what will be my third year as VCU’s provost, I’m even more encouraged by what we can achieve by working together. With VCU’s talented faculty and staff, and our shared focus on excellence, impact, and access, we have everything we need to build our institution into the university of the future!

Best wishes for an incredible semester and year,

Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D.
Provost and senior vice president for academic affairs

Categories Provost


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