As shared with the VCU Faculty Senate on October 3, 2023.

Message from the Provost

At the beginning of the academic year, I shared a message that articulated the progress being made across our campuses in pursuit of VCU’s strategic plan, Quest 2028. Just over a month into the year, we’re already seeing some results of our shared efforts to transform VCU into the university of the future. The bullet points below are just some of the highlights of how VCU really is Virginia’s Changing University.

  • Thanks to the work of VCU’s faculty and staff, the university has set a new record for sponsored research funding, totalling $464 million. That includes growth in every single academic unit across our campuses and in total represents a 71% increase over the last five years.
  • Speaking of research, deadlines are soon approaching for internal VCU funding opportunities for projects that support the university’s One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan. Learn more about the One VCU Research Strategic Priorities Plan FY 2024 Request for Applications (RFAs) and don’t forget to register for upcoming virtual office hours for internal funds Q&A will be held on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Faculty and staff success is further increasing VCU’s reputation for innovation. In fact, we’ve improved that ranking each of the past two years, rising from the top 30 to number 19 of public universities in the U.S. News & World Report 2024 Best Colleges rankings. We’ve also seen tremendous growth in our overall U.S. News rankings over last year, rising to number 76 among all public institutions. That’s to say nothing of VCU’s 29 graduate, online and undergraduate programs that rank among the nation’s top 50.
  • The One VCU Academic Repositioning Task Force has created more than 120 recommendations for how we can make VCU’s academic enterprise more efficient and become a pipeline for exciting and dynamic offerings. The task force workgroups will spend October deliberating and prioritizing those ideas. Beginning next month, and lasting into the spring, we will begin sharing those ideas and hosting unit-level conversations to continue and expand engagement on these faculty- and staff-created ideas with more of our colleagues.
  • VCU President Michael Rao recently announced the launch of a two-part faculty-led task force to update VCU’s Promotion and Tenure (P&T) Policy.One part will consider tenure eligible/tenured faculty members and the other will address term faculty members. The university’s existing P&T Policy was created more than a decade ago.

Celebrating VCU Faculty

  • Faye Belgrave, Ph. D., associate dean for equity and community partnerships in the College of Humanities and Sciences, has been named vice president and chief diversity officer at Virginia Commonwealth University. Equity and inclusion have always been an essential element of Belgrave’s teaching, and has said she is committed to systemic change at VCU as reflected in the university’s strategic plan.
  • Sarah Golding, Ph.D., an associate biology professor in VCU’s College of Humanities and Sciences and director of undergraduate research, and Carlos Escalante, Ph.D., associate professor and assistant graduate program director in the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Physiology and Biophysics co-direct VCU’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, formerly called VCU’s Initiative for Maximizing Student Development undergraduate scholars program. The NIH has awarded the program $3 million to continue research training of undergraduate and graduate students underrepresented in the sciences for five years. The highly competitive NIH grant has been awarded to fewer than 150 institutions since 1986. VCU is one of only two in Virginia to offer the program and one of only a handful across the country to train both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Garret Westlake, Ph.D., associate vice provost for innovation and da Vinci Center executive director and professor says, “the talented faculty and staff of the da Vinci Center who are committed to academic excellence and the student experience,” are to credit for the VCU’s Shift Retail Lab earning Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Award. Part of the da Vinci Center, the lab supports students and local businesses while reimagining how entrepreneurship is taught.

Leadership Updates

  • Dr. Constance Relihan, dean, University College is stepping down from that position at the end of the current semester and will resume her role as a VCU faculty member. An interim dean will be announced later in the semester.
  • Dr. Gabe Willis, associate vice president and dean of Student Advocacy, Division of Student Affairs Dr. Willis brings 15 years of higher education experience, marked by his expertise in behavioral intervention, student conduct, student advocacy, and Title IX compliance. He most recently served as Dean of Students and Deputy Title IX Coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana University. Dr. Willis began his new role on September 25, 2023. He will provide leadership for the units focused on student conduct and academic integrity, fraternity and sorority life, family programs and hazing prevention while also leading the implementation efforts for the new Office of Student Advocacy.

Current initiatives:

  • VCU has officially entered its SACSCOC decennial reaffirmation of accreditation period with the submission of our compliance re-certification report on September 8, 2023. Next, there will be an external review, followed by an opportunity for VCU to address reviewers’ feedback. Further information will be shared with you before the onsite visit scheduled for the last week of February.
  • A group of representative stakeholders is finalizing a draft of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for our SACSCOC reaffirmation. It will be vetted with the Faculty Senate and others through October.
  • A special call has been made for new racial literacy courses for the next academic year. Follow that link to learn more about the course criteria and submission process.
  • Academic Affairs is offering guidance regarding course modalities at VCU.
  • Soon, the Office of the Provost will be announcing a new committee for assessing teaching effectiveness. The introduction to, and progress of, that committee will be accessible on the committee’s web page.
  • The Office of Student Advocacy was created to serve as a one-stop shop for students who are navigating policies, procedures, and challenges during their time at VCU. This office takes a more involved and intentional approach to assisting students. They will not only walk students through a specific process or situation, but also walk them to a specific resource or service to make an introduction so that their concern can be addressed. The OSA team will directly assist students, with the goal of teaching them to develop self-advocacy skills.
  • The Office of Student Affairs has concluded its ad hoc committee work, which began last February, to update DSA’s strategic pillars, mission, vision, and values

Subscribe to the Office of the Provost blog

Events Calendar
A full list of events and opportunities for faculty is now online.

Categories Monthly Academic Update