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23. Michael Rao 

Virginia Commonwealth University President

VCU’s president seems to be settling down. A year into his new job he unnerved the governor (No. 7) with a 24-percent tuition hike last summer, and then controversy erupted in the fall when his chief of staff was suddenly let go — there were rumors that Rao’s wife, Monica, was behind the firing — but he somehow kept his job. In the spring, VCU’s Final Four run diverted the spotlight. Under Rao, the university is trying to shake its commuter-school status for one that’s more academic, but it won’t be easy. And Rao’s biggest ally on the board of visitors, former Rector Panny Rhodes, is gone.

2010 Ranking:15

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