Education: MICHAEL RAO
PRESIDENT, VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY, RICHMOND
Already one of the highest-paid officials in state higher education, Rao recently received an 8% raise. In June, VCU’s board of visitors approved raising his salary to $708,000, citing his fundraising abilities and stewardship of the university and its medical facilities since the pandemic.
Since his 2009 appointment as president, Rao has overseen infrastructure expansion at the university and its health system, as well as expanded its fundraising — according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, VCU has raised $235 million this year.
When he came to VCU at age 42, Rao had already served as president at Central Michigan University and California’s Mission College. In Richmond, he has overseen expansions of more than 5.3 million square feet at the university, including the $158 million medical education center and expansions to the Gladding Residence Center and the School of Engineering. VCU also notched its largest gift, $104 million, to establish the Stravitz-Sanyal Institute for Liver and Metabolic Health, in February from Dr. Todd Stravitz, a former VCU Health medical director.
Rao is also currently the chair of the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority and board chairman of the American Council on Education.