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Picking on Rao


During the past three months it seems like Style Weekly has written as many articles about Virginia Commonwealth University President Michael Rao as it did about former President Eugene Trani in a year. In less than two years Style has gone from praising the hire to scrutinizing every move Rao makes. This back-and-forth critique is a bit perplexing, and the question has to be asked: Is all this scrutiny justified?

Richmond is notorious for being a place where people know one another and take care of their friends. It is possible that Rao doesn't share the same opinion as others on who should be appointed to key positions within the university. Maybe he is basing his decision on who is most qualified rather than favored by constituents.

Rao is justified in his argument that VCU has far more in-state students than any other major institution. The percentage at VCU is 91 percent compared with 61 percent for the University of Virginia and 68 percent for Virginia Tech. It appears Gov. Bob McDonnell really is the one punishing Virginia students by withholding money from VCU. When state funding for the school was cut by 15 percent it is easy to see why Rao and the Board of Visitors had to raise tuition. They also caught most of the blame.

Peter Galuszka mentioned in his Oct. 26 article that Central Michigan's enrollment was 20,000, when according to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics from 2009 it is actually more than 27,000. That would make CMU the third largest school for this state based on enrollment. The transition Rao made isn't tremendous but many people around here seem to think it is. Galuszka also wrote an article with a title that appeared to pin the Raos with $43,000 in expenses for overseas trips paid for with school funds and mentioned near the end of his piece that a majority of the expenses were paid for by the Qatar Foundation.

Rao has been in charge of VCU for less than two years; Trani had 19. Before people start calling for his head and bashing him maybe they should allow Rao a little more time to accomplish something. Perhaps everyone should calm down and let the man do his job.

Stephen Bury
VCU Student

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