Faculty, students honored at Convocation for creating 'a new kind of research university'

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s 31st annual Opening Faculty Address and Convocation honored outstanding faculty and recognized a collection of the university’s best and brightest student scholars.

Michael Rao, Ph.D., president of VCU; Beverly Warren, Ed.D., Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs; and Sheldon Retchin, M.D., CEO of the VCU Health System and senior vice president for health sciences, spoke during the ceremony, which took place Aug. 21 at the Siegel Center.

Rao told the large crowd assembled that faculty play a key role in helping VCU become a new brand of research university that’s dedicated to people.

“I know I can count on you as professors, researchers and clinicians to be catalysts of the human experience,” Rao said. “And I know I can count on you to help VCU become a new kind of research university.”

After Rao’s address, senior university leaders recognized eight faculty members who have distinguished themselves and the university through their commitment to excellence, service, teaching and scholarship.

Nancy F. Langston, Ph.D., retired dean of the School of Nursing; H.M. Lee, M.D., School of Medicine (posthumous); and James P. Neifeld, M.D., School of Medicine, received the Presidential Medallion, which is awarded for extraordinary achievement in learning and commitment to the mission of VCU.

Joseph A. Marolla, Ph.D., Office of the Vice Provost for Instruction and Student Success, received the inaugural President’s Award of Excellence. Albert D. Farrell, Ph.D., Department of Psychology in the College of Humanities and Sciences, received the University Award of Excellence.

Umesh R. Desai, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy received the Distinguished Scholarship Award. Jurgen Venitz, M.D., Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, received the Distinguished Teaching Award. John N. Clore, M.D., School of Medicine, received the Distinguished Service Award.

“Academic quality and student success is not simply a written contract or a particular enrollment strategy,” Warren said. “It is far more. It is a partnership. It is an investment. And you, the faculty, are the deciding factor in that investment.”

The ceremony also recognized nearly 1,400 University Student Scholars, who have achieved junior-level status and are on track to receive Latin honors when they reach commencement.


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