« Back to Announcements

President Michael Rao announces the human resources redesign

Feb. 29, 2016

To the VCU Community,

When we launched the Great Place Initiative a few years ago, faculty and staff overwhelmingly indicated the need to improve many aspects of our human resources system. There was consensus on reforming practices around compensation, awards and recognition, career advancement, performance management, professional development and more.

We have taken initial steps to address some of these needs, compensation in particular. However, to truly make VCU a great place, we must modernize our human resources practices for classified staff and administrative and professional faculty in a comprehensive way to be more responsive to employees’ and the university’s needs.

Now is the time to take advantage of our Tier III status to design and implement a new HR system that attracts and retains the talent necessary to achieve VCU’s strategic goals as a major public urban research university that also is a great place to work. Under the state’s Higher Education Restructuring Act, VCU — along with the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech and the College of William & Mary — has been granted greater administrative autonomy as a Tier III university. VCU has used this status to enhance opportunities in procurement, capital projects, leasing and information technology areas. Applying Tier III status to human resources will allow us to redesign our system to its fullest potential.

The other Tier III universities already have done this with great success. I am pleased to announce that we have hired someone with unparalleled experience in human resources redesign under Tier III to lead VCU’s efforts. Susan Carkeek has joined us as senior adviser to the president for human resources. As the University of Virginia’s vice president and chief human resources officer for ten years, she successfully developed and launched a new HR system to implement UVA’s Tier III management authority. She also led a similar successful human resources transformation at the University of New Mexico. These are just two of Susan’s significant accomplishments in a distinguished career as a human resources executive that spans more than 30 years, most of it in higher education. Her experience will be critical given our ambition to have a new system up and running within the next three years.

Susan and Cathleen Burke, VCU’s chief human resources officer, already are mapping out a collaborative and inclusive process that will engage the university in the design and implementation of a new HR system. By working together we can make VCU a great place of opportunity not only for our students, but also for our faculty and staff — a place where success is supported and careers thrive.

Thank you for your participation in this important endeavor.


Michael Rao, VCU president