The governor and General Assembly have approved Virginia’s two-year budget for 2022-24 and several Virginia Commonwealth University-related projects along with it. Highlights include financial aid, a new regional computing hub and construction of a $181 million building for VCU School of the Arts.
While VCU will have to make up a budget shortfall of $14 million, it was still a historic year for the university in terms of the state investment and projects funded.
“The greatest takeaway from this General Assembly session isn’t so much individual projects or even the historic level of funding we received; it’s the underlying policy that guided these decisions – a policy that differentiates VCU from every other institution based on our mission and the population we serve,” said Matthew Conrad, vice president for government and external relations for VCU and VCU Health System. “We overwhelmingly serve Virginians and more of those Virginians are Pell eligible than several of our sister institutions combined. It’s a sign of the partnership between VCU and the commonwealth that they are providing funding to projects that will impact so many Virginians, whether they are students, patients or community members, here and beyond our campuses.”
Here are a few highlights of what to look for at VCU in the next few years.
Financial aid and operational funding to support students
Virginia funded a significant portion of VCU’s operating budget to support financial aid, with more than $16 million total over the next two years going to financial aid for undergraduate and graduate students, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival students. VCU offered $18,887 per year on average to full-time undergraduates seeking assistance in 2020-21. Central operating funds of just over $17.5 million per year cover many areas of the university’s operations, including the salaries of employees who support VCU’s students.
A new space for arts and innovation
Construction of VCU School of the Arts’ forthcoming arts and innovation building, at the southeast corner of West Broad and North Belvidere streets, will be the largest state-funded capital project in VCU history at $181 million in funding. The new building will bring VCU’s arts innovation programs together under one roof and will feature flexible classroom spaces, interdisciplinary performance venues and makerspaces for partnerships across arts, business, humanities and sciences, medicine and engineering.
A future without cancer
The state has provided a $25 million investment in VCU Massey Cancer Center, with the bulk of that funding going toward research, as Massey Cancer Center seeks a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center designation. In the past year, Massey has earned several grants to further study health inequities as they relate to cancer, along with a number of other studies that have the potential to impact the lives of those with cancer. This is the first time that funding for Massey reached or exceeded the long-standing goal of $20 million per year.
Advancing racial equity and social justice
The Research Institute for Social Equity in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU, an institute that has contributed to the equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Virginia among other efforts, will receive $3 million over the course of two years to continue efforts toward advancing racial equity to inform public policy, governance and practice to improve conditions for marginalized voices in society.
Virginia also approved additional funding to VCU for:
- The Commonwealth Center for Cloud Computing, a regional hub VCU’s College of Engineering is taking a leading role in establishing to train students to address the critical workforce need within the field of cloud computing.
- The RTR Residency, a teacher residency program in partnership with VCU School of Education that recruits, trains and supports teachers in schools that are considered high-need as they complete their graduate degrees.
- A building to house a new data center and replacement of technology services equipment, as the state plans to demolish the building containing its existing IT infrastructure.
- Equipment for the STEM building.
- Maintenance needs.
- The state’s share of a 5% salary increase for employees, including adjunct faculty, each year.