Top VCU Official Is Out 

Wayne Turnage, chief of staff for VCU President Michael Rao, leaves the university in a haze of controversy.

After serving less than a year, Wayne Turnage is leaving his post as chief of staff at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Turnage's departure raises questions about the stability of the school's top management since Rao became president in July 2009.

Turnage will leave VCU on Jan. 31, just two weeks after his first anniversary at the university. Before assuming his post he was a high-profile figure as chief of staff for former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who now serves as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Turnage says in a statement that he is leaving as part of a reorganization of Rao's staff. University Rector Anne G. “Panny” Rhodes is quoted in The Richmond Times-Dispatch saying that there is “nothing out of the ordinary” about Turnage's departure.

But his tenure wasn't without controversy. Reached by telephone this afternoon, Turnage's former deputy, Kathy Honsharuk, says that she was forced out of her position after Monica Rao, President Rao's wife, told Turnage to fire her.

Turnage resisted firing her, says Honsharuk, a veteran university employee who became deputy chief of staff in February. She left that job in September and now works with VCU's university relations office.

While Honsharuk declines to further discuss the situation, she says that Monica Rao was involved in her transfer. “I had been with her at many meetings in my job,” she says, adding that she didn't know why she was targeted for dismissal. Turnage told her that she had been accused of being a “disloyal leak,” she says.

Reached by Style Weekly, Turnage declines to discuss matters involving Honsharuk. Questions from Style to the media relations office were referred to a spokeswoman, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

Michael Rao, formerly president of Central Michigan University, became VCU's president after a nationwide search to replace Eugene Trani, who retired.

While Rao has received praise for setting higher academic and research standards for the university and for being a good listener, he's drawn criticism for being slow in achieving his goals and in organizing his staff.


Latest in News and Features

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Peter Galuszka

Connect with Style Weekly

Newsletter Sign-Up

The Flash
The Bite
The Scoop

Most Popular Stories

  • Trash Troubles

    Trash Troubles

    A crash in the global market for recycled materials could end Richmond’s participation in the region’s recycling program.
    • Jun 18, 2019
  • French Fry Frenzy

    French Fry Frenzy

    When it comes to fast food, who delivers the superior fried side?
    • Jun 18, 2019
  • Chain of Thought

    Chain of Thought

    Food writers examine the role of corporate-owned restaurants in the local dining scene.
    • Jun 18, 2019
  • Chain Gang

    Chain Gang

    Why independent restaurant owners have mad respect for chains.
    • Jun 18, 2019
  • More »

Copyright © 2019 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation