Virginia State University

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Virginia State University
City: Ettrick, Virginia
Type: Public, land grant
Students: 4,917[1]
Faculty: 300
Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross-Country, Cheerleading, Football, Golf, Softball, Tennis, Track, Volleyball[2]
Colors: Orange and Blue
Mascot: Trojan
Endowment: $13.8 million[3]

Virginia State University (VSU) is one of two land-grant colleges in Virginia. It has a has a 236-acre main campus and a 416-acre agricultural research facility. The main campus includes more than 50 buildings, including 16 dormitories and 16 classroom buildings. The main campus is located close to the Appomattox River in Ettrick, Virginia.[4] Together with Virginia Tech, VSU operates the Virginia Cooperative Extension program throughout the commonwealth.


William Mahone, a Confederate general, was an advocate of educational opportunities for freedmen. After his railroad was sold to the Norfolk and Southern, he donated the proceeds to found a normal school for black teachers near his hometown of Petersburg, Virginia.VSU was founded on March 6, 1882, as America’s first fully state supported four-year institution of higher learning for Blacks. Although the Morrill Act establishing land-grant colleges was passed during the Civil War, the land-grant colleges in most southern states were racially segregated. However, in 1890, Congress passed a second Morrill Act which provided that if a state did not open its land-grant college to black students, it must establish a separate one for blacks. In response, Virginia designated VSU as its second land-grant college.

In 1935, a branch campus started in Norfolk, Virginia. This was later spun-off into an independent college now called Norfolk State University.

In response to civil rights legislation, VSU has opened its doors to non-black students and actively recruits them. At one point, the President of Virginia Tech proposed merging the two schools under the name of "Virginia State University."

Petersburg gained white state-operated Richard Bland College as a junior college in 1960. (Petersburg also has a separate local junior college John Tyler Community College founded in 1967.) When Richard Bland College proposed to expand from a two-year to a four-year college, a lawsuit successfully blocked the expansion on the grounds that it would make it difficult for VSU to attract white students. Norris v. State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. [5]

Present day

VSU faces serious financial challenges. VSU faces a $5.3 million budget shortfall for the 2014-15 academic year. Its enrollment dropped by more than 10%, and in order to fill its dormatories, it now requires all freshmen and sophomores to live on campus. There are also serious concerns about campus safety. In fall 2013, a student was fatally shot in VSU's University Apartments.[1] There was also a stabbing at its homecoming event.[1] In 2013, five VSU football players assaulted a Winston-Salem State quarterback in the bathroom during the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Championship game luncheon. The attack led to the cancellation of the championship game.[6]

Its official motto is "Building a Better World". Dr. Keith T. Miller was appointed the 13th president of VSU by the Board of Visitors in 2010.[7] In the fall 2014, 950 students signed a petition calling for Miller's resignation.[8] Miller announced his resignation effective December 31, 2014.[9] The Office of the State Inspector General then sent two agents to the campus to investigate complaints about fraud and abuse.[8] On November 13, 2014, VSU named Pamela Hammond, Provost of Hampton University, to serve as VSU interim president.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kapsidelis, Karin. "VSU ‘in trouble,’ board member says", Richmond Times Dispatch, September 11, 2014. 
  2. Retrieved September 12, 2014
  3. As of June 30, 2009. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009 (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved on February 5, 2010.
  4. About VSU. Virginia State University. Retrieved on September 12, 2014.
  5. See, Stephen C. Halpern, On The Limits of the Law (JHU Press) pages 238-39 ISBN 0-8018-4897-0
  6. 6.0 6.1 "VSU picks interim president", Progress-Index, November 14, 2014. 
  7. Retrieved September 12, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Galuszka, Peter. "Under the microscope: State agents investigating complaints at VSU", Chesterfield Observer, November 12, 2014. Retrieved on November 12, 2014. 
  9. "Dr. Keith T. Miller steps down as VSU President". Retrieved on November 8, 2014.