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A great place to live, learn and work.

You can’t have a great place without great people and Virginia Commonwealth University is no exception. The faculty, staff and students make it the wonderful place it is today.

Focusing on HR means we are focusing on you.

The goal of the Great Place Initiative is to make VCU a great place to work — where you can do meaningful work in a place of opportunity, where your success is supported and your career thrives. We set out to create a new HR plan that aligns with VCU’s mission, core values and strategic direction. By capturing the individual and collective potential of each employee and focusing the workforce on the university’s strategic priorities, the quality of service provided to faculty, students and patients would be enhanced.

Great Place Initiative

Where we started

As part of the initiative, we invited faculty and staff to join the conversation about what already makes VCU a great place and also what they thought we could improve.

The initiative began when VCU conducted its Great Place survey of faculty and staff in 2013. The data collection also included town hall meetings and focus groups. The findings revealed how much employees loved working at VCU. They expressed their commitment to the university’s mission, their satisfaction with our many benefits and the value in being a part of the university community. Faculty and staff also reported an overwhelming need to improve many aspects of our human resources system. Over the intervening years, VCU had taken steps to address some of these needs. However, to truly be more responsive to the needs of our employees, the human resources practices for classified staff and administrative and professional (A&P) faculty needed to be modernized in a comprehensive way.

What we found

Some examples of the new HR programs asked for in the Great Place Initiative survey include:

  • Merit-based pay that recognizes outstanding service to students and faculty and rewards achievements that advance university priorities
  • Meaningful performance evaluation, with goals linked to strategic priorities and clear expectations
  • Opportunities for career advancement through visible career paths across the university
  • Increased professional development and networking opportunities
  • Greater transparency and accountability
  • Employee’s ability to influence their own pay and promotional opportunities

Great Place: HR Redesign


Data collected from Great Place survey of faculty and staff in 2013 was the starting point. While employees shared the many positive aspects of working at VCU, they also reported needed improvements. The specific areas of improvement identified— career development and advancement, more meaningful performance evaluation, market and merit-based pay — are the kinds of programs that could be adopted under restructuring authority. As can be seen by the other Tier III universities, (Virginia Tech, the College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia), it is possible to implement more updated HR practices while still retaining the strengths that public employment is known for such as strong retirement and health benefits and fair employment practices.

Launched in Spring 2016, the Great Place: HR Redesign project was charged with using the Great Place survey responses and the flexibility offered under restructuring to modernize and align HR policies and programs to support the university’s mission, vision and strategic priorities. The ultimate goal of the project was to make VCU a place of opportunity, where faculty and staff can do meaningful work, where their success is supported and their careers thrive. In doing so, VCU will be better able to hire and keep talented individuals who provide the highest quality service to students, patients and our community.


The Great Place: HR Redesign Project is focused on designing a new HR plan and policies to strategically align VCU’s human capital with the university’s mission, values and strategic priorities. The project also provides an opportunity to better respond to the growth in research, to reduce legal liabilities and to invest in more effective management through increased training and accountability.