VCU selects new university president

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VCU announces its fifth university president. Dr. Michael Rao replaces retiring President Eugene Trani.

Dr. Rao comes to VCU from Central Michigan University where he's said to have managed to increase faculty positions and develop academic programs despite budget cuts.

Dr. Rao says he's truly honored to now be a part of VCU. There was a standing ovation for the newest member of the VCU staff.

The VCU Board of Visitors unanimously selected Dr. Rao from a pool of 40 candidates. Dr. Rao will take over for Trani who stepped down last summer following heart surgery. Dr. Rao spent the last nine years at CMU which has a student population of 28,000.

He says he wasn't swayed by recent controversies VCU has endured including the improper awarding of a degree to Richmond's former police chief. Dr. Rao says most universities at some point have seen troubled times.

"If I didn't believe it had the future that I know it has if I didn't believe this position as well as it is there's no chance that I would have gotten involved in the search," said Dr. Rao.

Dr. Rao, who's married and has two little boys, says he looks forward to developing a vision for VCU that's meaningful to Richmond and the state of Virginia.

"There is no question if I had to pick one thing without consulting with a whole lot of folks resource development is going to be very necessary that's an area I enjoyed taking on," said Dr. Rao.

One student who was on the search committee says Dr. Rao's personality stood out the most and will serve him well.

"He's a very personable person a lot of the students will be able to relate to him I feel that people will have that trust if they see something in him they see in themselves," said senior VCU student Olakunle Idowu.

Dr. Rao will return to Richmond in a few weeks to meet again with faculty, staff and students.

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