With a total student population of more than 31,000, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a public research university located in the capital city of Richmond, VA. The VCU Health System is an urban teaching hospital and is home to VCU Medical Center, the #1 ranked medical center in the Richmond metropolitan area with the only Level I trauma center in central Virginia. Together they make VCU the largest employer in the city of Richmond (22,888 including VCU and VCU Health System employees).

Founded in 1838 and currently belonging to the elite group of R1 – Doctoral Universities with Highest Research Activity by Carnegie Classification, VCU enrolls students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 108 countries. Students choose from 59 undergraduate, 69 master’s, 42 doctoral programs, three first-professional programs and 44 certificate programs offered by 11 schools and three colleges. With two main campuses on 173 acres in the historic downtown area, as well as satellite campuses located across the state and internationally, VCU boasts a diverse campus community, including approximately 43 percent of the student body identifying as minority, as well as an 18:1 student-faculty ratio, and more than 500 student clubs and organizations.

One of the largest academic health centers in the nation with a 52-acre footprint one block from Capitol Square, VCU Health System also maintains over 2.5 million square feet of facilities in satellite locations surrounding the city, including research space at the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park. In addition to VCU Medical Center, the $3.2 billion health system includes Community Memorial Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, the Virginia Premier Health Plan (a 220,000-member non-profit Managed Care Organization), and the MCV Physicians (a faculty practice plan with more than 700 members and 770 residents and fellows).

The Position

Responsibilities of the Position

Reporting to the associate vice president for public safety for VCU and VCU Health System, the chief of police works closely with VCU Police department staff, academic campus and medical center constituents, and the local community to direct and administer the overall policing initiatives, as well as promote a safe and secure environment, for the campus and medical center communities of Virginia Commonwealth University.

The chief provides comprehensive leadership, strategic vision, and general oversight for patrol operations, investigations, community policing, crime prevention strategies, community outreach, educational services, crime statistics, federal compliance reporting, and programs. Managing an award-winning, 24-hour/365 day-a-year, internationally accredited and full-service law enforcement agency, the chief leads a staff of 99 sworn police officers and approximately 200 security personnel, all housed in a brand new headquarters and state of the art emergency operations center.

In a recent survey 95.5% of students, faculty, and staff reported feeling “safe” or “very safe,” so expectations are extremely high for the chief to maintain and continue to improve upon these standards. Additionally, the chief manages the $11.1 million annual budget; develops the department’s goals, objectives, policies and procedures; enforces local, state, and federal laws; maintains an awareness of IACLEA best practices, national trends, and innovative technology related to safety/security and legal issues impacting both higher education and health systems; works closely with local, county, and state public safety officials to ensure the safety of the entire community; and tracks crime statistics to ensure compliance with college, state, and federal reporting responsibilities. The chief fosters and maintains collaborative and proactive relationships with students, patients, faculty, and staff, as well as external agencies such as law enforcement and emergency management agencies, in an effort to address community policing programs, safety and security priorities, and educational outreach as they support and correspond with the missions of the university and the health system.

Characteristics of the Successful Candidate

The position requires a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, public administration, public safety, or closely related field, and at least ten years of demonstrated progressive leadership in law enforcement, security operations, or higher education, including increasing level and scope of responsibilities, command supervisory experience, budget management, and operational/programmatic responsibilities for safety. A master’s degree and graduation from a recognized law enforcement senior leadership program such as the FBI National Academy is preferred. The successful candidate will demonstrate a vision for building a cutting-edge law enforcement agency with an emphasis on best practices in higher education and healthcare, a highly visible presence, and demonstrated commitment to community policing and other 21st century policing practices. The successful candidate will also possess excellent communication skills and experience in media relations, and will exhibit a previous record of success at a command level in a residential, university campus, academic medical center, or similar environment. It is highly desired that the successful candidate demonstrate proven success in working with stakeholders with diverse backgrounds, including students, patients, parents, visitors, faculty, and staff in university and academic medical center settings, as well as proven success in the recruitment, development and retention of diverse workforce units. It is also preferred that the successful candidate have experience working in an accredited police department; experience working in a hospital healthcare environment, preferably a Level 1 Trauma Center; and trauma-informed sexual assault investigations experience in conjunction with experience dealing with the intersection of Title IX and the Clery Act. The successful candidate must also be certified by the Virginia State Department for Criminal Justice Services to perform police duties in the Commonwealth of Virginia or be able to obtain Virginia certification within 12 months of accepting this position.

In addition to the minimum academic and experiential requirements indicated in this document, other desired characteristics, skills, actions, and/or abilities noted from discussions with institutional stakeholders include;

  • a progressive background in law enforcement, preferably in a large, complex, higher education setting; a large urban municipal force; a health care environment; or some combination of the three;
  • because relationships are so important in this environment, the chief must be a great collaborator with internal departments and external colleagues, with the ability to understand the importance of interconnectedness;
  • strong leadership abilities that inspire and develop staff, providing professional and personal development opportunities and promoting unity and teamwork throughout the department;
  • deep knowledge of community policing, a focus on needs of both students and patients, and able to integrate that philosophy into the culture of the police department;
  • a comprehensive commitment to a customer service philosophy that promotes unity and bridge building;
  • demonstrated skills as an advocate and champion for diversity, equity, inclusivity, and social justice, and a willingness to stand up for these values;
  • an excellent and transparent communicator with the ability to reach all levels of the department, the university, and the health system, including the ability to effectively speak to the press, parents, and the campus community;
  • experience with trauma management, experience in a trauma center and working in a hospital environment;
  • demonstrated experience in embracing and utilizing new and innovative technology, embracing creativity and innovation;
  • able to listen carefully, ask knowledgeable questions, learn the department and its intricacies, accept input from staff, and then make well-informed decisions that are best for the students and patients;
  • possess strategic vision and able to motivate all levels of staff to support that vision;
  • possessing problem solving skills, with the ability to determine needs, address issues, and manage change effectively;
  • demonstrated knowledge and experience in compliance and associated reporting requirements, particularly the details of CLERY;
  • adaptable to significant changes on the spur of the moment, not reactive, and able to address situations with a cool and collected demeanor;
  • an understanding of the history of the city of Richmond, VA, and how that translates to a strong working partnership with the community, the local police, and the adjacent neighborhoods;
  • a highly visible individual who is willing to get out of the office and interact with stakeholders;
  • a strategic and data-informed decision maker who is also able to see the “umbrella” perspective (vs. tunnel vision);
  • strong marketing skills, with the ability to tell the story of VCU police;
  • ethical, with the utmost integrity;
  • strong budgeting and finance skills, and able to be strategic in all budgetary decisions and recognize at all times the limits of the state budgeting system;
  • an innovator with a futuristic orientation, willing to try new opportunities, remain informed on new trends and best practices, and lead significant change processes;
  • strong political savvy and tactfulness to operate within a large state institution and health system;
  • possessing a positive attitude, stamina, and charged with energy for the job;
  • possessing an understanding of mental health issues, as well as the value of having officers trained as mental health officers and being front-line contacts in this area;
  • the ability to make difficult decisions when necessary and to balance the needs of the people with the needs of the organization;
  • a proven record with staff retention efforts;
  • a strong practitioner of an “open door” policy for staff and constituents; and
  • experience with crisis management, emergency operations, law enforcement training, the federal incident command system, and continuity planning.

History of the Position

Virginia Commonwealth University’s current Chief of Police, John Venuti, was recently promoted to Associate Vice President for Public Safety for VCU and VCU Health. This is a new position designed to support the ONE VCU concept of unifying the university and health system and provide institutional public safety oversight, strategy, and policy development for both entities.

Chief Venuti joined VCU in 2010 after a 26-year career with the Richmond Police Department. In that time, VCU Police has increased in size to 99 sworn officer positions, decreased officer involved use of force by more than 66 percent, and led the relocation of VCU Police headquarters mid-way between VCU’s academic and medical campuses in support of the ONE VCU concept.

Likely Opportunities, Priorities, and Challenges of the Position

The next chief of police must possess a broad and deep understanding of national best practices with regard to community policing, hospital security, large and urban campus culture, modern technology, and staff development. The chief should be an experienced leader capable of managing crises and complex situations, unwaveringly committed to customer service, and equipped to contribute at both a strategic and tactical level to a large, vibrant, and dynamic state institution of higher education and comprehensive hospital/health system environment.

There is a great sense of unity among VCU stakeholders in support of identifying a competent and visionary individual who can promote the team, set departmental priorities, and lead into the future with technology and innovation. The following were identified as possible opportunities, priorities, and challenges that will face the new Chief of Police at VCU and VCU Health.

  • The scope of responsibilities of this department is wide, and the new chief will need to quickly become familiar with all aspects under their purview in order to develop a comprehensive list of priorities. With a large and growing campus, as well as an extensive health care system, the VCU police department has an extremely wide scope of responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of students, staff, faculty, patients, administrators, and the community. The scope of jurisdiction is growing, and with that growth will come added emphasis on partnerships both within VCU and with the neighboring communities. The new chief will need to prioritize a great deal of time upon arrival for learning the nuances and priorities of the campus and health system, discovering the internal needs of the staff and the department, and beginning the process of reaching out and establishing themselves in this position. Emphasis on emergency preparedness, business continuity, community engagement, and overall safety should be expected.
  • Consequently, there is a great opportunity for an experienced law enforcement professional to put their own professional mark on the university police department program and build it to a higher level based on their experience, their innovative abilities, and national best practices. There is tremendous support and high expectations for the new chief from the administration on both the academic campus and in the health system, and there will be a supportive supervisor who will empower this individual to enact change (as he has done for the past eight years in this position prior to being promoted to Associate Vice President). Addressing new issues that arise and being adaptive to a changing environment, along with maintaining forward movement on issues already at hand, will provide ongoing success for the new chief.
  • It will be essential that the new chief commit to a comprehensive culture of collaboration and partnering across campus for maximum effectiveness. VCU and VCU Health System are committed to building relationships as a foundation of the campus culture, and strong collaboration is an absolute necessity in all endeavors to ensure success. The police department touches a vast number of individuals, departments, and other entities, so it will be crucial that the new chief quickly reaches out across both areas to build strong relationships and partnerships to foster ongoing positive relationships and continue being a “connector” in all instances. These connections are absolutely essential in order to assess real needs, provide client-specific programs, and offer high-end customer service at all times. Additionally, the VCU police department works closely with local police and sheriffs’ departments in a number of situations, so the new chief should be prepared to continue to foster strong collaborative relationships with these entities at all times.
  • Community policing is an essential core value at VCU, and the current chief refers to this as, “policing with a purpose.” While already present within the police department, an even stronger community policing philosophy will allow the chief and the other officers an opportunity to be seen more as functional members of the campus community. Officers should be visible, accessible, and proactive with the student body and the hospital patients, consistently networking with the faculty and administration, interactively involving the campus in safety and security endeavors, and generally providing a positive representation of the department. The new chief should use IACLEA best practices, innovative new trends, and other professional networks to inform the further development of this community policing philosophy.
  • Because VCU Health System is so important to the Richmond community, it will be imperative that the new chief understand the nuances of their responsibilities in this area in addition to the academic campus. The constituents in the health system are generally patients and those who care for these patients, so a keen understanding of security in a health care setting will be required. Speed of response to emergencies, mental health concerns, and understanding the unique needs of an inner city population are several of the emphases the chief will undertake within the health system. Being able to effectively navigate both the academic and health system environments will be essential to the new chief’s success.
  • As a large state research institution, VCU is on the move, with tremendous growth and an exciting atmosphere looking toward the future. Since 2009, the campus has added 5 million gross square feet, and the new plan will add another 6 million square feet in the near future. The Health System sees upwards of 100,000 emergency room visits in a given year (300 a day), with 4 million square feet of jurisdictional space of oversight and 120 staff (not including sworn officers). Upon arrival, the chief should expect an extremely fast pace, as well as a vibrant environment in which to work. With this fast pace also comes high expectations, so the new chief should be ready to be on the move and actively involved in campus and health system life at all times.
  • With a deep and previously established service-oriented culture within VCU police, the new chief should prepare to spend a great deal of time intently listening to the members of the current staff and others across campus, understanding the depth of the commitment to serving others, and then developing a plan for further enhancing this commitment into the future. It will be essential that the chief ensures that the same level of service is provided to both the VCU campus and the VCU Health System.
  • Innovation is a focal point within the police department at VCU, so there is a great deal of support for new ideas, cutting-edge technology, and national best practices. The previous chief has been unwavering in adopting new technology and national best practices into the department, so the new chief will also find great support in bringing new ideas and advancements to the table. While funding is not unlimited and not all new proposals can be undertaken, the new chief will find that well-researched ideas with comprehensive data backing them up will be considered and given thorough vetting. Seeking out best practices at other institutions and remaining current on IACLEA and other professional benchmarking opportunities will be greatly encouraged.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important parts of the VCU community, and the chief should be a leader in supporting, understanding, embracing, and nurturing these concepts. There are a large number of underrepresented populations within the institution and the health system, and the police department, with the chief at the helm, needs to be a model for maintaining a strong sense of equity and an unbiased working environment at all times.
  • The VCU police department operates its own accredited police academy, located on site in the relatively new, cutting edge command center, and this proves very advantageous in providing a high number of well-trained officers in-house. The new chief will be integral in continuing support for this initiative and building it to even greater heights.
  • Across the board, the staff reiterated how much they liked working at VCU and for the police department. The staff is very supportive of each other, enjoy the vibrancy of the university, and feel there are many opportunities to make a big difference in this role. The new chief should be prepared to provide ongoing and specific professional development opportunities for the staff and commit to supporting the continued development of a strong and cohesive team.

Measures of Success for the Position

At an appropriate interval after joining Virginia Commonwealth University, the items listed below will initially define success for the new Chief of Police.

  • Staffing levels are at or near allocated levels and employee climate surveys within the department show high satisfaction and retention levels.
  • Campus climate surveys show that perception of the police force and the services provided are positive and rising.
  • Relationships have been established between the new chief and key stakeholders and partners on the VCU campus, within the health system, and in the neighboring communities.
  • Internal communication is consistent and comprehensive, while external communication is clear and transparent.
  • Officer attrition is minimized, while retention rates are high and rising.
  • Police officers are consistently present with both students and patients, and the Police Department is viewed as an active and participatory part of the VCU community.
  • Responsiveness is consistent and timely.
  • The needs of the academic campus and the health system are adequately and equitably addressed to the satisfaction of both.
  • Professional development is provided for staff on a regular basis and team development is stressed at all times.

An Overview of VCU Police Department

The mission of the VCU Police Department is to provide a safe and secure learning, living, and working environment for the students, faculty, staff, and visitors of Virginia Commonwealth University. Led by the Chief of Police, the VCU Police Department serves the Monroe Park Campus, the MCV campus, and the VCU Medical Center, and works diligently to protect and serve the VCU community.

Divisional Organizational Chart

Recent VCU Police Department Awards

  • IACP (International Association of Chiefs of Police) Victim-Witness Services Award, 2017
    • Honorable Mention, 2015
  • IACP Award for Public-Private Partnership (security camera system, VCU Police and SyCom Technologies), 2015
  • IACLEA (International Association for Campus Law Enforcement Administrators): Award for Administrative Excellence (Assistant Chief Christopher Preuss), 2018
  • IACLEA– Innovations in Community Policing, 2017
  • VACLEA (Virginia Association for Campus Law Enforcement Administrators): Robert C. Dillard Award, honoring “an individual who has made a significant sustained contribution to the advancement of campus law enforcement or security practices in Virginia.” (Chief John Venuti), 2016
  • RVA Retail Merchants Association: VALOR Award for VCUPD officers who demonstrated excellence in policing, 2016 & 2018
  • Campus Safety Magazine: Campus Safety Director of the Year: (Chief John Venuti), 2015
  • National Law Enforcement Challenge: First Place, 2014 (and multiple state-level 1st and 2nd place awards for traffic safety initiatives between 2010 and 2018)
  • National Campus Safety Summit: Finalist, Department of the Year (also ranked the VCU Police Department third on its 2018 Safe Campus Top 25 list)
  • VCU Health Forensic Nursing Team: Forensic Partner Award, 2018
  • VCU Title IX: Transformative Leader Award (Chief John Venuti), 2017
  • VCU’s Wellness Resource Center: two recognitions from for victim services
  • MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving): multiple awards to VCUPD Officers for their efforts to prevent DUIs
  • Governor’s Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety Award: Officer Ellsworth “Sonny” Pryor, awarded for saving the life of a patient at VCU Health, 2016
  • Public Relations Society of America – Richmond Chapter: four awards for public information/communications, 2015-2018

Leadership of the Department

Current Chief John Venuti was recently promoted to Associate Vice President of Public Safety, which is a new position, and will supervise the new Chief of Police. Currently, there are two Assistant Chiefs, Chris Preuss, Director of Police Operations, and Mike O’Berry, Director of Support Services. Other members of the Command Staff include Jonathan Siok, Captain, Support Services; E.J. Taylor, Captain, Patrol (Days); Bill Butters, Captain, Patrol (Nights); Greg Felton, Police Officer, External Relations; Lori Dachille, Director, Emergency Management; Conrad Simms, Recruiter, Volunteer Coordinator; Corey Byers, Public Information Officer; Connie Davidson, Director, Administrative Services (Business Manager); Cheri Stickels, Executive Coordinator; and Joe Burton, RMC Security Services.

Institution & Location

Institutional Background

More than 175 years ago — in 1838 – VCU was known by another name. VCU was the Medical College of Hampden-Sydney, later becoming the Medical College of Virginia. It wasn’t until 1968, when VCU merged with Richmond Professional Institute, that it was given the name Virginia Commonwealth University.

  • The first school of social work in the South
  • First organ transplants in Virginia
  • First American campus in Qatar
  • First LEED Platinum building in Virginia
  • Only university in Virginia to receive $20 million National Institutes of Health grant to support translational research
  • Only men’s basketball team to go from First Four to Final Four

Largest employer in Richmond

  • 22,888employees at VCU and VCU Health System
  • 2,739full-time classified staff members
  • 2,338full-time faculty members
  • 978part-time adjunct faculty members

No. 1 hospital in Richmond

  • VCU Medical Center is both the region’s safety net hospital and its No. 1-ranked hospital. It is the only Level I trauma center in Virginia that is verified in burn, pediatric, and adult trauma care.
  • More than 11,000 employees
  • More than 93,000 Emergency Department visits per year
  • More than 714,000 outpatient clinic visits per year
  • Nearly 38,000 inpatient admissions per year

173 acres in downtown Richmond

Branch campuses and satellite locations:

Our research and innovation:

  • Awarded $25 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to lower cost of lifesaving drugs. The College of Engineering leads this multi-department and multi-university research collaborative.
  • Interdisciplinary research strengths include neuroscience; cancer; substance abuse and addiction; the human microbiome; and nanoscience, nanomedicine, and nanotechnology
  • 21% growth in sponsored awards in a 10-year period
  • One of only 54 universities nationwide to be designated by the Carnegie Foundation
    as “Community Engaged” with “Very High Research Activity”

About Richmond, VA

The city of Richmond combines big-city amenities with southern charm and ease. Traffic usually means it takes 10 minutes to get somewhere instead of five, which is good if you’re trying to get to a reservation at a James Beard-nominated restaurant, a gallery opening, or a new exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The city is home to easy parking, restaurants that win raves from local fans and national media, and some of the best street art in the entire country. Shop at fun boutiques and vintage shops or stroll through Carytown, the city of Richmond is ready to impress.

Since its founding in 1607, the city of Richmond has always been the strategic center of commerce, innovation, and decision-making power in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The city offers low business costs, a pro-business climate, robust financial programs, and a smart, creative workforce with solid education and experience in the technical, scientific, and creative professions. It is a city founded on commerce, innovation, and decision-making power.

Distinguished as the 4th Best City in the United States for Commuters (Kiplinger.com), Richmond is well-known as a city that doesn’t waste your time. The average commute time is under 25 minutes and the Greater Richmond Transit Company’s award-winning public transportation system gives you options that allow you to spend your time and money on better things than your commute.

The City has recently experienced a revitalization of its historic theaters and museums, as well as the construction of new facilities. Below is just a sampling of the unique theater and concert venues as well as world-class museums and historical destinations located within the city of Richmond.

In 2014, several Richmond City Public Schools nationally ranked Gold, Silver, or Bronze according to the U.S. News & World Report Best High Schools 2014 Rankings. Richmond Community High School and Open High School moved up in rankings and received Gold and Silver designations. Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government and International Studies ranked as the 12th Best High School in the nation in 2014 in The Daily Beast annual rankings.

First things first. Richmond is fondly referred to as “RVA.” People love this city. Because it’s awesome. And Virginia Commonwealth University is in the middle of it all.

What others say about RVA:

For more information about Richmond, VA, visit the Chamber of Commerce website

VCU mission

As the premier urban, public research university in the state, Virginia Commonwealth University’s mission is to advance knowledge and student success through its commitments to:

  • An engaged, learner-centered environment that fosters inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global setting
  • Research that expands the boundaries of new knowledge and creative expression and promotes translational applications to improve human health
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations that bring new perspectives to complex problems and mobilize creative energies that advance innovation and solve global challenges
  • Health care that strives to preserve and restore health for all people, to seek the cause and cure of diseases through groundbreaking research and to educate those who serve humanity
  • Diversity that provides a climate of inclusion, a dedication to addressing disparities wherever they exist and an opportunity to explore and create in an environment of trust
  • Sustainable university-community partnerships that enhance the educational, economic and cultural vitality of the communities VCU serves in Virginia and around the world


Accountability: Committing to the efficient and transparent stewardship of our resources to achieve institutional excellence

Achievement: Ensuring distinction in learning, research and scholarly pursuits, service, and patient care

Collaboration: Fostering collegiality and cooperation to advance learning, entrepreneurship and inquiry

Freedom: Striving for intellectual truth with responsibility and civility, respecting the dignity of all individuals

Innovation: Cultivating discovery, creativity, originality, inventiveness and talent

Service: Engaging in the application of learning and discovery to improve the human condition and support the public good at home and abroad

Diversity: Ensuring a climate of trust, honesty and integrity where all people are valued and differences are recognized as an asset

Integrity: Adhering to the highest standards of honesty, respect and professional and scholarly ethics

Strategic Plan

Quest 2025: Together We Transform. Quest 2025 will be VCU’s next strategic plan, providing high-level guidance and direction to ensure we are all working towards common goals.

As the name implies, Quest 2025 serves as a successor to the 2012-18 strategic plan, Quest for Distinction, as we continue to make VCU the premier urban, public research university. To date, more than 100 members of the VCU community have played a role in shaping the university’s next strategic plan.

Above all, the 2025 strategic plan strives to be:

  • A plan for the VCU community, by the VCU community
  • Flexible, strategic and realistic, encompassing the values we’ve been sharing for years
  • A way for units to define distinction for themselves — to identify, and make the most of, what makes them stand out from the crowd

For a reminder of all the things that made the original Quest For Distinction great, visit our current strategic plan page on this website.

VCU Quest for Distinction

Themes and goals 2016-18

Theme I

Become a leader among national research universities in providing all students with high-quality learning/living experiences focused on inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global environment

Goals and strategies:

1. Recruit and retain talented and diverse students who will graduate at a higher rate than our Quest peers and serve as leaders in a well-educated work force
a. Develop experiential learning curriculum (Real World Experience or RWE) for full implementation with fall 2017 entering cohort (freshmen and transfer students)
b. Strengthen programs / initiatives that support access, reduce student debt, increase internal financial assistance, and speed timely graduation
c. Expand online course and program offerings
d. Improve / redesign gateway courses
e. Strengthen advising / career counseling
f. Increase internal Student financial aid (% UG need met; % 1st Professional student need met)

2. Recruit and retain progressive and diverse faculty, staff and senior leadership with the skills and talents to advance quality teaching and learning, along with high-impact research, scholarship and creative expression
a. Improve recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff
b. Implement iCubed (research pipeline, cluster hiring and retention initiative)

Theme II

Attain distinction as a fully integrated urban, public research university through contributions in human health, research, scholarship and creative expression that advance knowledge and enhance the quality of life

Goals and strategies:
1. Leverage health system/university assets to address social determinants of health

2. Increase interdisciplinary research and interprofessional education, scholarship and practice among arts, humanities and sciences

3. Improve recruitment and retention of diverse faculty and staff

4. Sustain the success of high -performing research institutes and centers and engage stakeholders in identifying promising areas of research and academic program investment
a. Receive NCI re-designation for Massey Cancer Center

Theme III

Become a national model for community engagement and regional impact

Goals and strategies:

1. Finalize design and begin implementation of the Center for Urban Communities (preliminary focus areas: K-12 education/lifelong learning and health literacy and access)

a. Complete development of C4Uc infrastructure
b. Create work/implementation plan to target identified community issue
c. Launch of Community-Engaged Partnership Map

2. Leverage and align efforts of students, faculty and staff to enhance, disseminate and integrate community-engaged scholarship, student service learning opportunities and outreach

3. Implement strategies to partner with city/region in advancing economic development
a. Articulation / establishment of key strategies in advancing economic development


Michael Rao, President

Michael Rao, Ph.D., became the fifth president of Virginia Commonwealth University and the VCU Health System in 2009 and has continued to cement VCU’s place among the nation’s premier urban, public research universities. Under the Quest for Distinction strategic plan, Rao has piloted strategic efforts focused on academic quality, student success, and research that foster regional economic development and improve lives.

As president of VCU and the VCU Health System, Rao leads a national research university with a leading academic medical center that is the largest employer in the Richmond area — with more than 20,000 employees — and the sixth largest in Virginia. Rao is responsible for one of the nation’s most comprehensive academic health centers, which is ranked among the best hospitals in the country and was named the No. 1 hospital in the Richmond region by U.S. News & World Report. VCU’s community impact, both economic and cultural, continues to grow and is evident in many ways, including the university’s renowned athletics program, a surging College of Engineering, and the landmark Institute for Contemporary Art.

Under Rao’s leadership, VCU’s place among national research universities continues to rise, with 19 graduate and first-professional programs ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, including the nation’s No. 1 sculpture and nurse anesthesia programs. He also oversaw one of the largest-ever expansions of VCU’s master site plan, including the Grace Street living-learning corridor, the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Medical Education Center, the Academic Learning Commons, and an expansion of the James Branch Cabell Library.

Rao has been in higher education administration for more than 25 years, beginning in California in 1992, when he became president of Mission College and was, for a time, the youngest college president in the nation. He went on to serve as chancellor of Montana State University-Northern and president of Central Michigan University.

Rao holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of South Florida and a PhD in higher education from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Monica, a watercolorist and graphic designer, have two sons.

Hiring Authority and Reporting Line

Meredith Weiss, Vice President for Administration

Meredith Weiss, Ph.D., joined Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016 as vice president for administration. As VCU’s chief administrative officer, she oversees human resources, facilities management, technology services, safety and risk management, capital assets and real estate, and one of the largest university police department’s in the country.

Weiss previously served as senior associate vice chancellor for finance and administration at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she oversaw the university’s financial, budget, treasury and accounting operations. During her more than a decade at UNC Chapel Hill, she also served as associate vice chancellor for business services and administration, associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management, and held positions at the university’s law school as associate dean for administration, finance and information technology and as assistant dean for information technology.

Weiss received a Ph.D. in information science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also earned a master’s degrees in business administration and information science from North Carolina Central University, a master’s degree in instructional technology from East Carolina University and a bachelor’s degree in human resources from the University of Delaware


Larry Little, Vice President of Support Services (VCU Health)

Larry Little has served in healthcare for 39 years and has worked in the VCU Health System for 13 years. Prior to his present position, Mr. Little worked for two national healthcare management companies serving clients throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, and Washington D.C. In his role as Vice President for Support Services and Planning, Mr. Little provides leadership for 13 service departments/areas and serves as the planning leader for the construction and renovation program at the Health System. Mr. Little is a member of various organizations and presently serves as the Board President for the Virginia Hospital Laundry.

In 2011, Mr. Little was appointed by Governor Robert McDonnel to serve a four-year term on the Community Integration Advisory Commission. The Commission is charged to monitor the implementation of the state and federal laws concerning community integration of Virginians with disabilities and to make recommendations to the various implementation teams when founded. Mr. Little has spoken for various national, regional and local groups on subjects ranging from supply chain utilization and management, safety and risk management practices, as well as many subjects related to construction management and the role of the Health Care Executive. Mr. Little holds an undergraduate degree in Business Management/Administration and a masters in Business Administration.

The Academic Program

  • 2,338 full-time faculty
  • 18:1 – Student-faculty ratio
  • These graduate schools and programs are ranked in the top 50
    • 1stFine Arts — Sculpture
    • 1st Nurse Anesthesia
    • 2ndFine Arts
    • 3rdFine Arts — Glass
    • 3rd Health Care Management
    • 4th Rehabilitation Counseling
    • 7thFine Arts — Graphic Design
    • 7thFine Arts — Painting/Drawing
    • 9thFine Arts — Ceramics
    • 10thFine Arts — Printmaking
    • 17th Occupational Therapy
    • 17th Pharmacy
    • 20th Physical Therapy
    • 24thNuclear Engineering
    • 26thBest Education School
    • 30thSocial Work
    • 41stBest Nursing Schools: Master’s
    • 44thPublic Affairs
    • 48thBest Nursing Schools: Doctor of Nursing Practice

These rankings are based on the most recent U.S. News & World Report information.

The Student Body

  • 31,036 students
  • 82% full time
  • 86% Virginia residents
  • 43%minority
  • 29% underrepresented minority*
  • 23% enrolled in STEM majors
  • 24,010 undergraduates
  • 5,283 graduates
  • 1,743 first professionals
  • 1,452 international students, representing101 countries
  • Top four: China, Saudi Arabia, India and Kuwait
  • 5,036 students live on campus
  • 5 million hours of service by students equaling $32 million in volunteer work
  • $1 million+ revenue, grants, and investments garnered by student startups in one year

* Underrepresented minorities include: American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American (not of Hispanic origin), Hispanic/Latino (including persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Central or South American origin), Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or two or more races (multiracial) that consists of at least one of the ethnic/racial groups mentioned above.

VCU Health

VCU Health promotes the motto, “Inventing better care, day by day by discovery.” If that sounds outrageous, it absolutely is. If it sounds impossible, that never stopped VCU Health before. Combining hard work, intense research, and collaboration with experts around the world, VCU Health is a recognized leader in healthcare. Whether it’s a patient who undergoes a new, life-saving procedure or a clinical researcher who finds promise in a new cancer treatment, exciting new medicine is happening at VCU Health.

VCU Health includes the following:

  • Five schools
  • An academic medical center
  • A Level I trauma center
  • One of only two NCI-designated cancer centers in Virginia
  • The region’s only full-service children’s hospital
  • More than 800 physicians in 200 specialties

With a community health center, dedicated research teams, facilities and valued partners in every field, the VCU Health medical teams are top notch, boasting internationally known physicians, some recognized as the best in the country, top-ranked local specialists and all-around all-stars at every level. From our very first years to its most recent advancements, VCU Health is driven to learn more, dig deeper, teach passionately and never rest in order to be a true leader in discovering what is possible in health and recovery. VCU Health is a comprehensive system of care and a pioneer of health. Read VCU Health Year In Review for more about its accomplishments.

VCU Health System volume

Fiscal year 2017

  • Inpatient discharges
    • 37,938
  • Adjusted discharges
    • 66,094
  • Emergency Department visits
    • 93,354
  • Outpatient Clinic visits
    • 714,669
  • Total surgeries
    • 23,924
  • Virginia Premier member months
    • 2,349,883

Benefits Overview

VCU and the VCU Health System consistently rank among the best places to work as judged by local and national organizations. Combined, these two organizations make up the largest employer in the city of Richmond. Whether full-time or part-time, staff members are eligible for a multitude of benefits, ranging from health insurance to tuition waivers to tax-deferred annuity plans. These benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Retirement Plans
  • Life Insurance
  • Disability Insurance and the Virginia Sickness and Disability Program
  • Work/Life Benefits
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Tax-deferred annuity (TDA) and Roth 403(b)
  • Deferred Compensation Plan (DCP)
  • Voluntary Long-term Care Insurance
  • Tuition Waiver

For a detailed look at VCU benefits, visit the website at https://hr.vcu.edu/current-employees/benefits/university-and-academic-professional-benefits/

Application & Nomination

Review of applications will begin immediately, and continue until the position is filled. To apply for this position please click on the Apply button, complete the brief application process, and upload your resume and position-specific cover letter.

Confidential inquiries and nominations for this position may be emailed to J. Scott Derrick jsd@spelmanjohnson.com. Applicants needing reasonable accommodation to participate in the application process should contact Spelman Johnson at 413-529-2895.

Visit the Virginia Commonwealth University website at https://www.vcu.edu/.

Visit the VCU Health System website at https://www.vcuhealth.org.

For more information regarding the University Police Department: https://police.vcu.edu/

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY/NON-DISCRIMINATION POLICY: As an affirmative action and equal opportunity employer, VCU promotes the full realization of employment opportunity for all persons, including minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans. VCU bases all employment decisions only on job requirements. These efforts apply to all employment actions, including but not limited to recruitment, selection, hiring, promotion, and compensation.