L. Douglas Wilder, 66th Governor of Virginia

Yesterday I was a guest of the WRVA Richmond’s Morning News with John Reid. I encourage you to listen to the WRVA interview.

We discussed the announced departure of the VCU health system CEO Dr. Art Kellermann. Frankly, he is being fired though the reason remains yet to be determined.

With respect to employment privacy laws — as taxpayers and members of the public — we have a right to know the reason for this termination. There have been no stories leading up to this decision, so what is VCU not telling us? This emphasizes my longstanding and growing concern that the VCU administration, is not being transparent about leadership decisions at the university. I’ve said it before, shared governance and accountability remains intentionally absent at VCU.

I’ve directed these concerns to the Governor’s office and will continue to do so until we can restore the necessary oversight that our public service university has promised in its charter to deliver. With all his compensation and perks, VCU President Rao does not appear at public and community events where he would be accessible to the people. He does not speak in public to the people. He seeks to control who is appointed by the Governor to the Board of Visitors, which is to provide independent oversight for the direction of VCU.

This would not continue if the public became aware of the detailed instances of this autocratic control of the university. Many of our local public officials have failed to confront this crisis at VCU. Governor Youngkin needs to become directly involved in what continues to be a rejection of shared governance at VCU.

There are many critical issues at which are not being addressed, like the declining enrollment numbers of Black students and the extremely high rates of Black faculty turnover (150%). Campus crime is another overwhelming threat facing VCU. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t receive a text alert about a campus robbery, carjacking, sexual assault, shooting or other forms of violence, or alert.

The value proposition of a higher education degree is being questioned more than ever by a new generation of students, and we owe it to them to properly represent their interests and solve the most pressing problems facing VCU.

We further discussed the shortcomings of mayoral leadership in Richmond, (for now) by Levar Stoney.

The Richmond Police Department is on its fifth chief of police since Stoney’s tenure began in 2017. It’s clear that community policing is an effective method of fighting crime, yet he has not made this a priority except by word of mouth. Fortunately, he will be out of office in two years, and the voters have long memories.

We must call on our local and state representatives and members of congress to demand effective methods to restore public safety and the trust of our communities. The Governor knows these are key issues in our capital city, and he must become more involved in finding solutions to protect the people. There are several things that he could bolster and undertake.

He can further help by bolstering the Richmond Police Department’s relationship with Virginia State Police. There are many avenues and examples of innovative and effective policing across the nation that our public servants can adopt. Those Governor’s asked to serve on his transition team would be there to help if he so chooses.

True leadership does and will always hold the voices and needs of the people at its forefront. From VCU to Richmond and beyond, we must reverse these negative and harmful trends at all levels. The people will accept nothing less.

I encourage you to listen to the WRVA interview.

Stay tuned.

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