Dear VCU and VCU Health communities,
The Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors voted today to remove racist and divisive symbols honoring the Confederacy from both campuses. This work will begin in earnest.
Their decision came after more than three years of study, review, and reflection led by the university’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Aashir Nasim, Ph.D.; university historians; and other experts who provided context to which many of us have not been exposed throughout our educational experiences. I thank this committee for its work, a thoughtful and studious process that included the entire VCU community. I also thank the Board for its resolute endorsement.
Across both campuses, more than a dozen dedicated spaces, memorials, plaques, and statues give honor to Confederate causes or members of the Confederacy. The committee’s analysis revealed a more complete story of the meaning behind these memorials and commemorations that we can neither ignore nor celebrate and that impede our mission to serve all. They are disruptive and hurtful to a diverse community of students, patients, faculty, staff, health-care team members, and alumni. More than half of our patients and nearly half of our students are minority individuals.
VCU deliberately and rightfully serves all human beings, and we do so very well. We will commit to our shared values of inclusion, equity, and diversity. We will empower and embolden the humanity in each other and honor the champions of these values.
I look forward to what’s to come.
Michael Rao, Pd.D.
President, VCU and VCU Health System