Since our founding as a medical school in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University has expanded and evolved, taking a number of names and configurations along the way.
Our DNA is complicated and rich. It’s made us who we are — diverse, engaged, open-minded and ambitious.
We’re not afraid to lead the way.
VCU has a tradition of being first — a necessary practice when one is trying to provide the very best education in rapidly evolving times. We put one foot in front of the other, just like everybody else.We just happen to be one step ahead.
First school of social work in the South
The VCU School of Social Work was founded by a small group of Richmond citizens interested in improving the social conditions of Virginia’s urban and rural poor. Their efforts led to a training school for social workers, the first of its kind in the South.
Today, the school is ranked 11th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.
First organ transplants in Virginia
Over the past 70 years, VCU Medical Center physicians performed the commonwealth’s first liver, kidney and heart transplants, as well as the East Coast’s first artificial heart transplant.
Today, our transplant survival rates consistently meet or surpass the national average.
First American campus in Qatar
VCU became the first university from the U.S. to operate a campus in Qatar, which now boasts programs from five other American universities, including Georgetown and Northwestern.
In 2012, VCU opened VCUQatar House near the Richmond, Va., campus to continue to enhance our cross-cultural collaboration.
First LEED Platinum building in Virginia
VCU built the first Platinum-level LEED structure in Virginia, located at the Inger and Walter Rice Center for Environmental Life Sciences, a research field station in Charles City County.
Over the past five years, all new construction at VCU has met LEED Silver standards, at a minimum.
Only university in Virginia to receive $20 million NIH grant to support translational research
In 2010, VCU became the first and only university in Virginia to receive the $20 million Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health to fund the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research.
Our CCTR researchers serve as national leaders on research into women’s health, substance abuse and rehabilitation sciences.
Only men’s basketball team to go from First Four to Final Four
Our 2011 men’s basketball team was the first and only team to make it from the First Four to the Final Four — an NCAA Tournament run heralded as one of the greatest Cinderella stories of all time.
During Coach Shaka Smart’s first four years at VCU, the team garnered 111 wins, the second highest for any NCAA Division I head coach in his or her first four seasons.
Warren W. Brandt, Ph.D., was selected as president from a field of 200 candidates to lead the new university, formed when the Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia merged.
During Brandt’s tenure, 32 degree programs and two schools were established, and more than $20 million of new construction was completed or undertaken across campus, including the James Branch Cabell Library, the School of Business building and a large addition to Sanger Hall.
T. Edward Temple, Ph.D.
T. Edward Temple, Ph.D., joined the university in 1973 and chaired the three-man committee that briefly ran the school after Brandt’s retirement in October 1974. As president, he developed a “traveling road show” in an effort to introduce the school to the public, increasing enrollment and support throughout the state. Temple died of a heart attack just 15 months into his administration.
Edmund F. Ackell, M.D., D.M.D.
Edmund F. Ackell, M.D., D.M.D., was the first VCU president to have experience in the field of health care as well as in education and administration. His contributions include leading a major overhaul of the university’s governance system; instituting a new system for short-term and long-range university planning; revamping faculty tenure and promotion guidelines; and improving access to the community by supporting the use of the university’s research and educational resources to meet social needs.
Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D.
After a national search, Eugene P. Trani, Ph.D., came to VCU with 25 years of experience as an administrator and historian. During his tenure, VCU experienced a 200 percent increase in freshman applications and 170 percent increase in international enrollment; established 14 international partnership universities; and undertook or received authorization to undertake more than $2.2 billion in capital construction and renovation projects.
Michael Rao, Ph.D.
Michael Rao, Ph.D., became the fifth president of VCU in 2009 after a national search. He has strengthened the university’s national academic profile among research universities; increased sponsored research; helped ensure student success by focusing on enrollment management, nationally renowned faculty, and facilities and other efforts to help students graduate as leaders in their fields; and diversified the university’s resource base, including adding a major focus on fundraising and expanding alumni engagement.
Most importantly, he is committed to enhancing the student living and learning environment and advancing interdisciplinary collaborations to support the university’s research mission and to support teaching, learning and patient care.