June 3, 2020
Dear members of the VCU community,
As we prepare to return to VCU for our fall semester together, we face two challenges simultaneously. COVID-19 continues its prevalence in our nation and commonwealth, and health experts predict inevitable waves to come. And we have all been horrified and dismayed by recent violence against our fellow human beings, especially the very public killings of African Americans across our nation.
Both of these issues are, of course, top-of-mind as we plan our return to campus. Our priorities are the health, safety, and wellness—both physical and emotional—of every member of our community.
We know you continue to face innumerable challenges with tremendous ingenuity, resilience, and determination. VCU is strong because we respect every member of our community, and I believe that we can learn, work, and live together when we all come together responsibly. I trust everyone to promote and exhibit safe behavior.
When we moved to a remote experience more than two months ago, we promised to update our students regarding Fall 2020 plans by early June. For all of us, the world has changed in profound ways during these two months, but we know you need to move forward with making personal plans and understanding what to expect as we come back together this fall.
Based on our values and the science, the administration has determined that we will begin a phased on-campus opening of the university in June, starting primarily with the health sciences schools and college and research faculty, staff, and trainees, and culminating with the official start of the fall semester Aug. 17.
I know you will have questions and concerns as we move forward together. I hope this video and this website will be resources to help answer some of those questions about how and when we can return, how life will be different once we are back, and what our responsibilities will be before and after we return.
Even in uncertain times, we have proven to be a community that quickly and successfully adapts and pivots to respond to the unforeseen. We will all need to be prepared to demonstrate that same flexibility as circumstances may change going forward. We have also had the great benefit of many minds coming together singularly on the COVID-19 challenge, and we have been able to strategically leverage the expertise and resources of our academic health system — all coming together as One VCU.
Now we have the opportunity to prove that we can be responsible together in our commitment to foster the health and welfare of everyone in our community. We can pursue our academic, research, and clinical care dreams and goals by caring for each other as One VCU.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Michael Rao, Ph.D.
VCU and VCU Health System