Virginia Union University: Wikis


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Virginia Union University
Established 1865
Type Private, HBCU
Religious affiliation American Baptist Churches USA
Endowment $14.6 million
President Dr. Claude G. Perkins
Students 1,578
Undergraduates 1,242
Postgraduates 336
Location Richmond, Virginia,
United States
Campus Urban, 84 acres (33.99 ha)
Colors Maroon and Steel
Nickname Panthers
Athletics NCAA Division II
Affiliations Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association

Virginia Union University (VUU) is a historically black university located in Richmond, Virginia. It was formed in 1899 by the merger of two older schools, Richmond Theological Institute and Wayland Seminary, each founded after the end of American Civil War by the American Baptist Home Mission Society. VUU's 84-acre (340,000 m2) campus is located at 1500 North Lombardy Street in Richmond's North Side.



Virginia Union University seeks to maximize the potential of individuals from varied academic backgrounds within the context of a challenging and nurturing academic environment, offering students the opportunity to excel as scholars and leaders.

The University was founded in 1865 to give the newly emancipated freedmen an opportunity for education of the mind in an ethical, religious environment. Excellent teaching and enlightened guidance for all students remain the institution's primary emphases. An historically black university, Virginia Union University embraces the uniqueness and contributions of the African Diaspora, celebrating the value of cultural and intellectual diversity.

Seeking to empower students for the pursuit of life-long learning, the University provides comprehensive undergraduate liberal arts programs and graduate education for Christian ministries. To this end, a guiding principle of the University's educational program is a strong focus upon moral values and ethics, and students are encouraged to engage in activities that promote self-actualization.


By late 1865, the American Civil War was over, which ended slavery in America. Approximately 4 million former African American slaves, now known as freedmen, were to become citizens, although many had been deprived of formal education and prevented from becoming literate by Southern state laws. Southern states were in upheaval after the war. Both planters and freedmen were trying to figure out what a free labor market would entail. Freedmen were so eager for education that they began to set up their own schools before the end of the war.

University presidents
Malcolm MacVicar 1899-1904 First President
Dr. George Rice Hovey 1904-1918 Second President
Mr. William John Clark 1919-1941 Third President
Dr. John Malcus Ellison* 1941-1955 Fourth President
Dr. Samuel Dewitt Proctor 1955-1960 Fifth President
Dr. Thomas Howard Henderson 1960-1970 Sixth President
Dr. Allix Bledsoe James 1970-1979 Seventh President
Dr. David Thomas Shannon 1979-1985 Eighth President
Dr. S. Dallas Simmons 1985-1999 Ninth President
Dr. Bernard Wayne Franklin 1999-2003 Tenth President
Dr. Belinda C. Anderson 2003-2008 Eleventh President
Dr. Claude G. Perkins 2009-present Twelfth President
*first VUU alumnus and African-American to serve as President of the University

Members of the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) proposed a "National Theological Institute" to educate freedmen wishing to enter the Baptist ministry. Soon, the proposed mission was expanded to offer courses and programs at college, high school and even preparatory levels, to both men and women. This effort was the beginning of Virginia Union University.

Separate branches of the National Theological Institute were set up in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia, with classes beginning in 1867. In Washington, the school became known as Wayland Seminary, named in commemoration of Dr. Francis Wayland, former president of Brown University and a leader in the anti-slavery struggle. The first and only president was Dr. George Mellen Prentiss King, who administered Wayland for thirty years (1867-97). Famous students there included Dr. Booker T. Washington and Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.

In Richmond, the efforts were more difficult. Beginning in 1867, Colver Institute, a VUU predecessor school, was housed in a building long known as Lumpkin's Jail, a former "slave jail" owned by Mrs. Mary Ann Lumpkin, the African-American widow of the deceased white owner. In 1899, the Richmond Theological Institute (formerly Colver Institute) joined with Wayland Seminary of Washington, D.C. to form Virginia Union University at Richmond.

In 1932, the women's college Hartshorn Memorial College[1][2], established in Richmond, Virginia in 1883, became a part of Virginia Union University. Storer College, an historically black Baptist college in West Virginia (founded in 1867), merged its endowment with Virginia Union in 1964.


School of Theology

Virginia Union University's Theological training program is called "The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University". The school of theology is known for producing preachers such as James Harris. This school shares some resources with the nearby Union Theological Seminary & Presbyterian School of Christian Education and Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond as the Richmond Theological Consortium. The School is also a member of the Washington Theological Consortium.[3]


Belgian Friendship Building

Virginia Union's gymnasium, Barco-Stevens Hall, is located in the former Belgian Pavilion from the 1939/1940 World's Fair in New York. Due to the outbreak of World War II, the Pavilion could not be returned to Belgium. The Belgian government sponsored a competition to determine the building's new home. VUU won, and the Pavilion moved to Richmond in 1941 as VUU's Belgian Friendship Building. Through 1997, the University's library was also located in the Belgian Friendship Building.

Student activities


Virginia Union competes in the NCAA Division II.

Men's Basketball

Under the leadership of head coach Dave Robbins since 1978, the Panthers basketball program has been to the Division II "Final Four" seven times (1980, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2006) and have won three NCAA Division II national championship titles (1980, 1992, 2005). The team was the 2006 National runner-up with a record of 30-4. The team has also captured the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association conference championship 20 times.[citation needed]

The school plays in an annual exhibition game with the Division I cross - town rival Virginia Commonwealth University. Coach Robbins' program has also produced eight NBA players, including Detroit Pistons star center Ben Wallace, and former New York Knicks power forward Charles Oakley.[4]

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference
Michael Brim National Football League player
Roslyn M. Brock 1987 Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Terry Davis Professional Basketball Player [4]
Will Downing R&B Singer
AJ English Professional Basketball Player [4]
Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. first African-American to reach the rank of Admiral in the United States Navy
Pete Hunter National Football League player
Leontine T. Kelly 1960 a Bishop of the United Methodist Church
Bai T. Moore Liberian author and poet
Charles Oakley Professional Basketball Player [4]
Wendell H. Phillips member, Maryland House of Delegates (1979-1987)
Samuel DeWitt Proctor President of VUU and president of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he made close acquaintance with then student body president Jesse Jackson
Randall Robinson Attorney
Spottswood William Robinson III Prominent Civil Rights Attorney, Dean of Howard University Law School, First African American to be appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Iyanla Vanzant motivational speaker and author
Wyatt T Walker Activist, civil rights motivator, musician, Theologian who gave letter to Dr. Martin Luther King from Coretta; close confidant and preacher
Ben Wallace Professional Basketball Player [4]
Dr. Donda West educator, and mother of Kanye West
Douglas Wilder 1951 first African-American Governor of Virginia (1990-1994) and Mayor of Richmond (2005-2009)


External links

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