Humanities and Sciences faces cuts, VCU looks at new branding strategy

The VCU Board of Visitors met on Friday to discuss budget due to low student enrollment. Photo by Enza Marcy

Katie Hollowell, Contributing Writer 

A number of colleges and schools will face cuts next year as a result of not achieving their enrollment goals for the 2019-20 academic year. 

The affected units are the College of Humanities and Sciences, the School of Business, the School of Engineering, the School of Pharmacy, the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Affairs, VCUarts and the School of Social Work, said Gail Hackett, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Hackett said during a board of visitors meeting on Friday that the schools and colleges need to focus on the following:

  • Growing enrollment 
  • Attracting out-of-state applicants 
  • Putting a freeze on hiring 
  • Adjusting course sizes
  • Eliminating classes

Each unit had to submit a plan for how they would cover their cuts and submit it for review. Hackett said her office is following up continuously with leaders from each on issues like student retention.

Hackett says VCU is using disaggregated data to zero in on schools with the highest retention issues.

Community engagement 

University spokesperson Pam Lepley spoke at the board meeting about the future of VCU’s brand. She outlined four “brand messaging pillars” for the university’s new recruitment ads: authentically diverse, intimately urban, academically rigorous and health-centric.

VCU is focusing on the intimately urban pillar to show the university’s connection to the city and the local community. 

Lepley said VCU students contribute about 1.3 million hours of volunteer work every year. 

Through digital advertising, the university will aim to recruit students during the period from when they start thinking about college to when they begin applying. 


  1. How can a pillar of marketing be “authentically diverse” when all the folks pictured do not convey diversity. VCU sits in an urban setting but do not enroll it’s students but rather recruit students from other countries. Let’s get serious about the systemic and institutional racism that Mike Rao and Administration perpetuate before pretending that the university is concerned about enrollment. Did we miss the part of the meeting about Rao’s bonus? And that the top 15 administrators earn over $5 million in salary alone? How about we cut back there first.

    • Right, they are amongst the top 15 that comprise the $5 million. Amazing that the composition of the basketball team is virtually ALL black but the student population, especially the medical college is mostly all white and asian. However, the marketing department wants to brand the “urban” location to increase enrollment. I would love to see how much money the VCU Foundation invests in the schools and programs that actually promote diversity. The watch dogs need to sniff out and expose the corruption and racism on Rao and VCU as they did on phony Stoney, Tom Farrell, and Navy Hill. We need more transparency on every level, starting with Rao, the board, and top administrators, at VCU, who are all complicit in a sophisticated scam bringing harm to the community, state, and tax payers.

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