Friday, Oct. 14th marks the inauguration of newly appointed Virginia Commonwealth University president, Michael Rao, establishing and recognizing him as the fifth head of the university since the school’s founding in 1968.
Formerly serving as the president of Mission College in California from 1994 to 1998, as well as Central Michigan University from 2000 to 2009, President Rao possesses an uncanny ability to thrive in a university atmosphere. Through his selfless vision of student excellence and his thorough belief in a strong academic foundation, Rao looks to progressively change the dynamic of the university by focusing on more extensive research studies and encouraging more community engagement. A new face and a determined ideology will not only prove to solidify VCU as one of the top institutions in the state of Virginia, but it will also help to ensure a more secure direction for the university, by providing students, faculty, and the city of Richmond an opportunity to prosper tremendously.
An overwhelming sense of promise and confidence has swept across the university in recent weeks, causing feelings of joy and excitement among students and faculty in anticipation for the formal introduction of Dr. Rao this week. Lindsey Hamby, 20, is a Socialism major at VCU, who exemplifies the optimistic spirit that has ardently been infused into the university’s aura. “It’s incredible to see how many strides the university [VCU] has made in only the last couple of years. An experienced president who is working to improve both academic standards and social consciousness is an important step in the continuing growth of the school,” she said. Hamby’s view has been echoed throughout the city, stretching even amongst Richmond locals and VCU employees’.
“It’s awesome to see how much this guy [Dr. Rao] really seems to care about the entire VCU body. I’m really interested to see what steps he’s going to take to expand the university and give back to the community,” said Cliff Bagley, 29, a manager at Subway in the VCU Commons and resident of Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond.
As the executive for both the Monroe Park Campus and the MCV Campus, President Rao will embark on a quest to distinguish VCU in a variety of ways. Anne L. Buckley, the University Relations Coordinator for the Office of the President, expressed full confidence in Dr. Rao’s ability to effectively run the university and propel the school to new heights. “The inauguration of Michael Rao as VCU’s fifth president marks a shift in the direction of the university. It’s a formal installation of a new president with a new vision for the university, one that is focused on academic excellence and student success, research, human health and community engagement,” she said. Buckley emphasized how important it was to Dr. Rao to establish VCU as one of the top research institution’s in the nation and to expand masters and doctoral degree programs that will help ensure student achievement.
“We [VCU] have a full head of steam moving forward, and I’m confident in President Rao’s vision to make the university a more unique place to learn,” said Ryan Mikula, 21, a senior Accounting major at VCU.
The inauguration of Dr. Rao will commence with the company of several prestigious guest speakers, including U.S. Secretary of Education, Anne Duncan, and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Furthermore, the Board of Visitors, a selective presidential advising group, will present Dr. Rao with a medallion to celebrate his new role as president of the university. Finally, nearly two full weeks of activities have been planned after the inauguration, focusing on fundraising and academic goals for the upcoming year. Dr. Rao’s principal philosophy of academic success and unity among the university’s body will allow VCU to further blossom. A vigorous sense of pride and humility has been implemented amongst our diverse university family, and Dr. Rao’s presence will act as a stepping stone to improve the well-being of VCU in all aspects.