Q&A with President Michael Rao

Michael Rao started as the president of VCU in July. While he has been here for less than six months, Rao said he is working to understand what the university needs. In Wednesday’s interview, he spoke about the progress of his goals and plans for the university. He spoke of the changes necessary for the university to survive the down economy as well as the need for unity and pride among the VCU community.
The following are questions from Wednesday’s interview with audio responses from the president.

Commonwealth Times: When we spoke last March, you said that two of your goals as president of this university would be to expand the diversity of VCU as well as it’s research resources. What have you done so far as president to achieve those goals?

You have said before that you have a goal to improve the quality of education at VCU. How do you define an improvement in the quality of education and how do you plan to do that while also juggling a struggling budget?

Michael Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Raoclip1.mp3]

CT: One of the main concerns within the VCU community is the decreasing number of faculty members. What response do you have for people who are worried about this and what can be done?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-Clip2.mp3]

CT: Would you ever consider having qualified administration teach classes?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-clip3.mp3]

CT: One of the main reasons VCU has had to make such significant reductions in its budget is the lack of state support. Do you have any plans to appeal to the state for more funding for VCU?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-Clip4.mp3]

CT: Would it ever become an option to either cap enrollment or become a private university?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-clip5.mp3]

CT: When you’re making important decisions about the university, who do you confer with? What is your process of decision-making?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-clip6.mp3]

CT: Another issue at VCU, somewhat related to diversity, is the disparity in salaries for professors and assistant professors. Is this something you are aware of? If so, is this something you plan to address?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-clip7.mp3]

CT: Would you ever consider having a student advisory board, independent from the student government?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/rao-clip8.mp3]

CT: Has there been anything that has surprised you about VCU since you started in July?

Rao:
[audio:Rao-Dec2009/Rao-clip9.mp3]

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