VCU President's staff required to sign agreement

By Deon Guillory - bio | email
Posted by Shawn Maclauchlan

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Campus controversy at VCU this morning surrounding the university's president - what some are calling an unusual practice is raising questions.

Workers in President Michael Rao's office have been asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Now with some jobs, it's a standard practice - but not in higher education.

Once signed, staff members cannot talk about what they see and hear about Rao and his family.

The agreement covers anything that may happen in his office or his home.

Employees aren't allowed to talk to family, friends, co-workers, the media or even clergy.

According to a lawyer who spoke to the Times-Dispatch, this goes against the culture of openness and transparency in higher education.

Other universities in the state - Virginia Tech, William and Mary, the University of Virginia, Radford, the University of Mary Washington and George Mason - don't require an agreement like this.

The University of Richmond has a standard agreement for employees. There's no special one for people working in the president's office.

The details of VCU's confidentiality agreement come as Rao's job performance is being reviewed.

Last week, the university's board of visitors decided to hire someone outside the university for the review - the same consultant who helped find Rao for the job.

Rao has been president for 16 months.

An inauguration for him was scheduled as part of next month's graduation but it's been delayed.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.