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New Faculty Orientation

Aug. 18, 2014
Commonwealth Ballroom, University Student Commons

Thank you, Tim [Davey]. You?ve put together a fantastic orientation program once again, and I really appreciate that.

Tim is one of the first people that many of our new faculty will meet at VCU, and I can?t imagine a better representative of everything that?s great about our university than Tim. Please join me in thanking Tim Davey for everything he does for VCU and our new faculty.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking across campus with a new colleague, who came to VCU from another university in Virginia. She was commenting on how nice the people here are, and what a really wonderful leadership team we have. I think that?s true. I?m grateful to John [Wiencek], Sheldon [Retchin], Frank [Macrina], Bill [Decatur], June [Nicholson] and so many others who are not only tremendous scholars and academic leaders but ? more importantly ? wonderful human beings.

As you come to know them, and many others, you will find that our colleague was right, that VCU really is a warm and welcoming place.

I think that?s because we like being here, and we like and respect each other. There?s so much to be happy about, and that?s especially true at the start of a new academic year, when you can feel the energy, excitement and vibrancy across the university. It?s one of my favorite times of the year, and that?s because of all of you and our students, and everything that I know you will contribute to Virginia Commonwealth University.

I have always had a deep appreciation for the personal level of commitment that?s so prominent at VCU. I grew up in a small town in Florida, and ? as a kid ? I always wanted to be a professor. I loved the idea that I could be part of someone else?s experience in learning something new, and I loved discovering things that I thought the rest of the world didn?t know and couldn?t figure out. It turns out that they usually did, but I was excited to feel like I was part of a great discovery.

I know you all know that feeling because you?re all in the midst of tremendous careers dedicated to discovery, and helping others to discover.

And that?s why you?ve joined the faculty at VCU.

At VCU, we have committed ourselves to the success of our people. We want you to be successful in teaching, research and creativity, service, clinical care, and advancing the human experience. Because that?s what we?re really doing, right?

We chose you to come to VCU because we know you will do well at our premier urban, public research university. We invest in only the best, and you are the best. And you will continue to advance VCU?s reputation around the world.

Recently, I joined a few colleagues in visiting some of the most well respected universities in China. Every person we met was excited about VCU?s growing reputation for excellence around the world. They lauded our 50 highly ranked academic programs, and our colleagues who have won the Noble Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Guggenheim Award and nearly every other major honor in your fields.

Throughout China, and around the world, VCU is a leading example of a great American university. We are a place of beautiful diversity and meaningful engagement. We are willing partners in innovation and entrepreneurism. And we have committed to using what we discover to advance humanity around the world.

You are joining an excellent faculty. In fact, it is the most committed, innovative faculty I?ve worked with at any place I?ve been. Our colleagues have an earnest commitment to collaboration and interdisciplinary partnership across VCU, often in creative ways among the most unlikely pairs of disciplines.

It?s a hallmark of our university. And that?s intentional.

We are most effective when we leverage every resource, talent and great idea that?s at VCU instead of working in silos. That?s one reason we have moved so quickly in becoming one of America?s truly premier urban, public research universities.

We do a lot of things well, and all of you will help us get even better in every area. But what I think we do better than almost anyone else is helping our diverse and really talented students succeed.

One reason we do that is because we have a faculty that commits to connecting with and engaging and inspiring our students. You are opening their minds as educators and shaping their lives as mentors. You are giving them the spark to change the world.

You are the most important way that VCU fulfils its responsibility to students and to society, and I thank you for that.

Some of you may have seen that U.S. News & World Report recently named VCU an ?Up and Coming University? in our nation. That was an honor, and a testament to the rapid progress we?ve made together.

Having had the chance to meet some of you, I know that I can count on you to help us continue that progress as one university with one vision working together, leveraging each other and treating each other well.

Thank you for committing to make a difference not only in your academic field, but for your colleagues, your students and your university.

I look forward to getting to know you and working with you as we continue to advance VCU as America?s premier urban, public research university.

Thank you.