Michael Rao (1967- ) was the twelfth president of CMU (2000-09). He received a BA from the University of South Florida and a Ph. D from the University of Florida. Before coming to Mount Pleasant, Dr. Rao Dean of (1992-94) and President (1994-98) of Mission College in California and Chancellor of Montana State University - Northern (1998-2000).
During his tenure at CMU, the University was designated a doctoral / research-intensive university by the Carnegie Foundation, there was continued growth in student population, including an increase in the number of international students, and the push for a medical school at CMU. In 2009, Dr. Rao resigned and accepted a position as President of Virginia Commonwealth University.