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Our Core Values

Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017

Dear VCU and VCU Health Communities,

In recent weeks, I have heard from many members of our community who are concerned about the civil and human rights implications of recent executive branch actions affecting immigrants, LGBTQIA+ community members and others.

In light of these concerns, I write to reaffirm once again Virginia Commonwealth University’s commitment to the long-standing core values and principles of equity, inclusion and fairness that define, guide and unite us. As a university, we will continue to demonstrate these values. Our commitment to them is unbreakable. To honor this commitment, we must provide a living-learning-working environment that considers and respects the needs of all members of our community.

We will continue to invest in diversity and inclusion, building pathways and bridges of access and helping every person who comes to VCU to feel respected and emboldened to succeed. We will always be a place relentlessly focused on integrity and accountability.

We will continue to value and champion the freedoms that have made our nation and our university exceptional: the freedoms of speech and peaceful assembly, the freedom to be proudly who you are, the freedom to pursue academic truths, the freedom to create and discover, the freedom to respectfully question and disagree and the freedom to listen to and learn from each other.

We will always ensure that our community of scholars can widen the arc of human knowledge protected by academic freedom within a supportive and inclusive environment. At VCU, you can always conceive what’s new, create what’s beautiful and do what’s difficult. In fact, it is your charge.

We will do so in accordance with the state and federal laws that govern us as a public university. Within this framework, we will do everything we can to protect all members of our community and their rights to live, learn and work here, including protections of privacy through FERPA and other federal and state laws.

That is why we recently reaffirmed our support of students who are protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It’s why we have continued to bolster efforts under Title IX to stop sexual violence and gender-based harassment. It’s why we have found ways to address the real and compelling needs of transgender faculty, staff and students. 

For important resources and information available to the VCU community, please visit

VCU has been committed to compliance in the areas of rights and liberties, but our dedication to supporting the civil and human rights of all members of our community is a matter of principle that need not — and will not — waver. These efforts and commitments make real what I continue to remind people of: VCU embraces all people. 

I appreciate the many voices I hear across VCU who are committed to ensuring that all members of our community feel welcome, safe and empowered. And I encourage you, as private citizens, to continue to advocate for the principles and actions that you believe are right, whether they are here at the university, in your broader communities, or in the nation or world.


Michael Rao
President, VCU and VCU Health