President Michael Rao, Ph.D.
Virginia Commonwealth University’s place as the state’s premier urban, public research university has strengthened under the leadership of Michael Rao, Ph.D., who, in challenging times, is piloting strategic efforts focused on academic quality, student success and research that fosters regional economic development and improves lives.
As president of VCU and the VCU Health System, Rao leads a national research university with a leading academic medical center that is the largest employer in the Richmond area — more than 19,000 employees — and the sixth largest in Virginia. Rao is responsible for one of the nation’s most comprehensive academic health centers, which is ranked among the best hospitals in the country and the No. 1 hospital in Virginia by U.S. News and World Report’s Best Hospitals list. VCU’s community impact — economic and cultural — continues to grow and is evident in many ways, including the university’s renowned athletics program, a surging School of Engineering and, coming soon, the landmark Institute for Contemporary Art.
Under Rao’s leadership, VCU’s place among national research universities continues to rise, with 32 graduate and first-professional programs ranked among the best in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, including the nation’s No. 1 sculpture and nurse anesthesia programs.
Rao holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida.