Accolades for VCU

This school year, VCU garnered recognition for its medical research, sustainability practices and popularity among U.S. colleges

Achievement is in the air at Virginia Commonwealth University, where the school recently received accolades highlighting a variety of strengths. Several organizations, including The Carnegie Foundation, independently recognized VCU for its increased medical research, commitment to community engagement and sustainability practices.

“These diverse accolades serve as further proof of the vitality, creativity and innovative nature of VCU and our outstanding faculty, staff and students,” said Beverly J. Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., FACSM, VCU provost and vice president for academic affairs.

In January, The Carnegie Foundation elevated VCU to “Very High Research Activity” status, recognizing the university’s research expansion over the past decade.

“Growth in sponsored-programs research across the university played a major role in VCU receiving Carnegie’s highest classification as a research university,” said Francis L. Macrina, Ph.D., the university’s vice president of research. “The ranking was based in part on our most recently reported research expenditures, which amounted to $151 million — an all-time high for VCU. Underlying this number is a talented faculty whose great ideas and scholarly prowess have put VCU on the map as a public research university.”

VCU joins only 27 other public universities in the country with academic medical centers to achieve both the “very high research” designation and the community engagement classification, which recognizes the university’s efforts to promote community engagement on and off campus, from The Carnegie Foundation.

“The two classifications from The Carnegie Foundation confirm the significant breadth and scope of VCU’s research activity, as well as the university’s continued commitment to our community,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D. “To be among the elite 28 universities with both distinctions is an important achievement that has been recognized.”

The Carnegie Foundation designated VCU a community-engaged campus in 2006, the first year it offered the classification, with 62 other campuses across the country. While 311 colleges now claim this achievement, all of them — including VCU — will have to reapply for the classification in 2015. Current community initiatives at VCU include the Carver Neighborhood-VCU Partnership, School of Dentistry’s Mission of Mercy, Lobs & Lessons, VCU America Reads and Bridging Richmond. This year, more than  3,000 VCU students will participate in service-learning courses.

“Our community partners inform and enrich our scholarship, learning and service,” said Catherine W. Howard, Ph.D., vice provost of the Division of Community Engagement. “Community engagement and higher education is an evolving relationship that VCU has embraced."

Additionally, last fall, VCU became the only college in Virginia to receive an A-minus — or any grade in the A range — on the national “Green Report Card,” an independent evaluation of sustainability in campus operations and endowment practices. Most recently, VCU’s Cary Street Gym received the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification, and the entire university community recently participated in RecycleMania, a friendly competition with other educational institutions all over the country to see who can recycle the most per capita.

The Green Report Card assesses more than 300 public and private colleges and universities with the largest endowments. Of the total number assessed, seven institutions received an A and 45 institutions received an A-.

In March, U.S. News & World Report ranked several programs in the School of Allied Health Professions among the best in the country in its latest list of “Top-ranked Graduate and First Professional Programs.” The publication ranked Nurse Anesthesia as the top program in the country, while Health Services Administration is ranked 5th and Rehabilitation Counseling is ranked 7th.  Other VCU graduate programs ranked among the best in the nation are: Education, 29th; Nursing, 36th; Primary Care, 76th and Research, 75th.

U.S. News & World Report also included VCU on the list of the country’s most popular universities. The report ranks universities by annual yield, or the percentage of applicants accepted by a college who end up enrolling at that institution in the fall. According to the report, 36.4 percent of students accepted to VCU enrolled at the university in fall 2009.