VCU office of the provost

Message from the Provost

Dear VCU faculty and staff:

You are inspiring!

I cannot count the number of deep and meaningful conversations I have enjoyed with you, and our colleagues, since I launched the One VCU Academic Repositioning Task Force in the spring of 2023. We’ve talked about broad societal changes that are reshaping our lives and communities. We’ve discussed how those forces challenge the future of higher education, and the vital role that our university plays within it. And we’ve connected over the commitment we share to the students we serve together.

No question, the chance to engage with you so deeply has been the highpoint of the nearly three years in which I’ve had the honor of serving as VCU’s provost.

There is nothing easy about an academic repositioning. It can be uncomfortable to look in the mirror, embrace our strengths and acknowledge where we have opportunities to improve. Throughout this process, your ideas, perspectives, and aspirations helped us find and define our path forward.

The ideas offered by the faculty and staff members who served on the task force – and the many responses they generated from our campus communities – taught us so much. You showed us how some early thoughts weren’t right; you confirmed the promise of other ideas. Most importantly, you advocated for amazing ideas that we had never before considered. 

I cannot overstate how powerful a resource VCU’s collective intellectual capacity truly is.

Your hard work and exciting ideas will fuel VCU’s ascent as we emerge among the nation’s most influential and impactful universities. Published on my office’s blog, this draft list of final recommendations:

  • Cultivates an inclusive and welcoming environment where a dynamic and diverse community of learners of all backgrounds can thrive and meet tomorrow’s challenges;
  • Empowers our excellent faculty and students to make an impact through advancing transdisciplinary research that will change lives, elevate lives, and save lives; and
  • Prepares our graduates to be future-focused, creative problem-solvers, and lifelong learners, by implementing and expanding experiential educational opportunities that break through disciplinary silos and continuously adapts to meet their needs and those of communities.

The 52 faculty and staff members who served on the task force created a total of 100 ideas. Since those recommendations were shared with the VCU community in early December, they have attracted more than 27,000 engagements and more than 2,500 written comments on the web portal hosting them. Further, more than 1,300 faculty and staff members came to discuss these ideas, and others, at the 18 sessions I hosted across VCU’s Richmond campuses.

Those community conversations continue as I return to the VCU Faculty Senate, Student Government Association, our deans, and other shared governance groups to discuss these draft final recommendations and the steps required before they can be implemented beginning in fall 2025.

I am grateful to the individuals who served on the task force, our deans who led the process, and all of you who engaged with the recommendations on the website, wrote comments about those ideas, and came to town hall meetings to discuss them.  I am impressed by how much you accomplished all while continuing to manage the many responsibilities of your jobs. 

Thank you. You are a credit to VCU.

Warm regards,


Celebrating VCU Faculty

Leadership Update

Current Initiatives

  • VCU spotlights Research and Innovation in April. VCU Research Weeks 2024 celebrates VCU’s groundbreaking discoveries and continued quest to improve the human condition, including a keynote address from Rochelle Walensky, M.D., former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, VCU is holding its inaugural Innovation Month celebration this month to foster collaboration, showcase achievements and inspire individuals from diverse backgrounds to embrace innovation across the university.
  • FAFSA Update: The Federal Department of Education continues to slowly but surely make progress toward completing their financial aid processing improvements. Our SEMSS team is actively engaged with prospective students and their parents, system vendors, internal VCU partners, the Department of Education and national professional organizations to stay abreast of developments. 
  • Since March 13, VCU has received 20,940 Institutional Student Information Records (ISIRs). We expect to begin awarding need-based financial aid for NEW students in late April or early May (compared to January of last year) and continuing students in June similar to prior years. Subsequently, offers accepted for freshmen are running lower as compared to last year as issues with the Department of Education FAFSA delays are impacting the rate at which students are accepting offers of admission.
  • Dr. Michael Rao, VCU’s president, recently released a video to students to help them understand what’s happening with their financial aid applications.
  • Positive Enrollment News: Overall enrollment reported in the spring semester 2024 Census II increased by 1.1% (+291) over spring 2023 Census II. The spring 2024 retention of fall semester 2023 continuing students also improved by .8% (+188) over spring 2023 retention. In addition, new spring 2024 Master’s student enrollment increased by 11.7% (+27) over 2023. Finally, I am especially pleased to note that our continuing success at retaining full-time second semester first-year students remains above 90% (94.3%).
  • Faculty members, mostly from the Focused Inquiry department, spoke at the March meeting of the VCU Board of Visitors. The Office of the Provost responded in a blog post statement.
  • At that same meeting, the Board requested further information about VCU’s racial literacy requirement.
  • The Office of the Provost is seeking faculty comments on the university’s proposed new LMS policy.
  • We will launch the Convergence Labs @VCU – AI+ on April 10th, 1-2:30 pm, which includes a corresponding webpage.
  • Beginning this summer, we will begin Integrating iCubed cores into the Convergence Labs @VCU model.
  • VCU political analysts, at a “Civil Discourse” event hosted by VCU Libraries, offered their take on what’s shaping up the early goings of the 2024 presidential election.

Quest 2028 Data Point

Did you know… IRDS publishes a public data dashboard? If you have a question about VCU data, make the Data Digest your first stop. Explore the tabs for admissions, enrollment, retention and graduation, and employees, and try out different filters. To practice, delve into the college/school details to see if you can identify any trends with transfer applications, or examine the differences in retention and graduation across different student demographics. The Data Digest is a great jumping off point for developing research questions that can lead to impactful change for our students. 

Data highlights from the latest dashboard update include the following quick facts:

  • The first-time freshmen admission rate for the Fall 2023 entering cohort was 87.6%;
  • The first-time freshmen yield rate for the Fall 2023 entering cohort was 25.7%;
  • The six-year graduation rate for first-time freshmen in the Fall 2017 entering cohort was 65.6%;
  • Among all students enrolled in Fall 2023, 34% were from underrepresented, minoritized backgrounds; and
  • Among freshmen enrolled in Fall 2023, 36.5% were first-generation students. 

 Find these stats and more at

Categories Monthly Academic Update
Tagged , , , , , ,