VCU president Michael Rao was the highest-paid state employee in FY 2015-16

President Rao visited this year's first SGA meeting to discuss his goals for the university with students, including his strategic plan, Quest for Distinction. Photo by Briana Townsend.
President Rao visited this year's first SGA meeting to discuss his goals for the university with students, including his strategic plan, Quest for Distinction. Photo by Briana Townsend.
Michael Rao is now in his seventh year as VCU president. CT file photo.

VCU President Michael Rao is the highest paid state employee for FY 2015-16 — amassing $900,940 in total compensation — according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s annual Salary Database for State Employees.

Rao’s $900,940 figure narrowly surpassed the Virginia Retirement System’s CIO, Ronald Schmitz, who fell in second place at $895,896.

Infographic by Desiree Choe
Infographic by Desiree Choe

As of the beginning of the fiscal year in July 2015, Rao’s salary included $181,387 from the state and $321,767 from non-state sources, according to the Times-Dispatch. The Board of Visitors increased his state salary to $183,148 and non-state pay to $340,132 by the end of the fiscal year, however.

In mid-October the state supplied the Times-Dispatch with updated information for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, which included Rao’s increased salary as well as information detailing:

  • $191,500 in deferred compensation;
  • $50,000 performance bonus paid last fiscal year;
  • $72,000 annual housing allowance;
  • $50,000 for personal expenses;
  • $7,000 for tax preparation;
  • $5,000 for disability insurance;
  • $2,160 for wireless communications costs

Additionally, the Times-Dispatch also reported that the above figures do not include the cost of the automobile provided by VCU, at an annual value of $42,500.

VCU spokesperson Pamela Lepley told the Times-Dispatch that Rao’s compensation is not even in the top five at VCU when the full compensation of athletic coaches, medical faculty and others who receive sources of income that aren’t included in the database are taken into consideration.

The Times-Dispatch annually compiles the salary information of Virginia state employees through the Freedom of Information Act. This year, the state provided the Times-Dispatch with information for 105,115 employees for the July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016 fiscal year.

The Times-Dispatch removed the salaries of employees earning less than $10,000 a year before calculating the median salary; the names of employees who fall below the statewide median of $49,516 are not included in the online database.


EXECUTIVE EDITOR

Sarah King. Photo by Julie TrippSarah King
Sarah is a senior studying political science and philosophy of law. She is also a copyeditor for INK Magazine and a reporter for the Capital News Service wire. Last spring, the Virginia Press Association awarded Sarah 3rd place for Public Safety Writing Portfolio and the Hearst Awards awarded her 4th place for Breaking News Writing. Sarah was invited to the White House in April for the Administration’s innaugural College Reporter Day. She previously worked as an editorial intern for Congressional Quarterly Researcher and SAGE Business Researcher in Washington, D.C., as well as RVAmag and GayRVA.com.
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4 Comments

  1. Except for the fact that President Rao donates $100,000 or more of his salary back to VCU every year, a figure I am assuming is not included here in order to paint a worse picture of him.

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