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Our Limitless Potential

Friday, Jan. 19, 2018

Dear VCU Community: Fifty years ago, the Wayne Commission report set into motion the establishment of what we now call Virginia Commonwealth University. We remain faithful to the commission’s charge of being a university that “concentrates on meeting the needs of an urban population living and working in an urban environment.” I am proud to say that we are also focused on serving others beyond our urban center — we are a university dedicated to advancing knowledge and student success, no matter one’s geographic location.

As they have since the days of the Wayne Commission, our core values continue to guide our mission. They make us a premier, urban research university with an academic health center dedicated to preserving and restoring the health of all people seeking care.

In the year ahead, we have much to achieve together. What we must accomplish this year may seem daunting at times, but our potential is limitless when we collaborate and work across disciplines.

We have reached the final year of our strategic plan, Quest for Distinction. Our new strategic plan will launch in August 2018. As a member of the university community, your voice is needed as we develop the next strategic plan, Quest 2025: Together We Transform. Town halls will be scheduled for this spring and will be announced soon, and all members of the VCU community will be invited to attend and provide feedback. The plan goes to the Board of Visitors for final approval this spring.

An integral part of Quest involves the facilities in which we live, learn, create, teach and heal. The VCU Master Site Plan will ensure that we will have the facilities we need to continue to accomplish our mission of education and service. 

The university’s redesigned human resources system started with the new year. The process of creating an improved human resources system for university employees involved great precision and deliberation. I am grateful to every person who helped develop and launch the Great Place: HR Redesign.

The Office of Budget and Resource Analysis has entered the second year of a budget redesign for VCU. This initiative will transform our planning and budgeting process to accelerate our progress as a 21st-century public research university. It marks a fundamental change in how we will align our resources with our priorities as stated in Quest for Distinction and future strategic plans. For updates on the process, go here.

The Make It Real Campaign for VCU has passed the $572 million mark and continues to progress toward a final goal of $750 million. It is the largest university-wide fundraising campaign in VCU’s history.

Our search for a vice president to lead our Division of Inclusive Excellence continues. The university has also launched a search for a new vice president of research and innovation.

As a comprehensive academic health center, VCU Health remains steadfastly dedicated to the preservation and restoration of health for all people through innovative research, education and clinical delivery. This is reflected in the development of VCU Health’s strategic plan, Vision by Design. The plan, which goes to the VCU Health System Board of Directors for approval late this spring, will align and optimize the already esteemed faculty, staff and caregivers who make up the health system.  

With the ribbon cut last November, the Virginia Treatment Center for Children officially opens to patients in early 2018. It is important that we provide children of Richmond and the commonwealth with high-quality mental healthcare delivery and facilities, just as VTCC does.

On the former VTCC site, construction of an adult outpatient facility and parking structure will begin this spring with completion scheduled for 2020.  Construction will also begin this year on a 114-bed rehabilitation hospital in Goochland County, part of VCU Health’s joint venture partnership with Sheltering Arms Rehab Institute and part of our health system Strategic Master Facility Plan.

On April 21, the Institute for Contemporary Art will open. It will serve as a welcome center to the arts district, as a point of connection between VCU and the community, and will help put Richmond on the map as a premier destination for contemporary arts.

2018 also marks the 399th year of the Virginia General Assembly, the oldest continuous legislature in the United States. I look forward to working with Governor Northam, his leadership team and the General Assembly as we work to educate and prepare the commonwealth for a promising future.

Finally, I invite you to my State of the University address at 11 a.m. on Jan. 25 in Cabell Library 303. The address will also be livestreamed via Facebook and posted to my blog.


Michael Rao, Ph.D.

President, VCU and VCU Health System