|Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (1882–1902)|
Virginia State College for Negroes (1902–1946)
Virginia State College (1946–1979)
|Motto||A Transformative Experience|
|Type||Public historically black land-grant university|
|Established||March 6, 1882|
|Endowment||$56.1 million (2020)|
|President||Makola M. Abdullah|
|Students||4,713 (fall 2017)|
|Campus||Suburban, 236 acres (96 ha) (main campus), 413 acres (167 ha) (off-campus site)|
|Colors||Orange and blue|
|NCAA Division II – CIAA|
Virginia State University (VSU or Virginia State) is a public historically black land-grant university in Ettrick, Virginia. Founded on March 6, 1882, Virginia State developed as the United States's first fully state-supported four-year institution of higher learning for black Americans. The university is a member school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.
Virginia State University was founded on March 6, 1882, when the legislature passed a bill to charter the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute. The bill was sponsored by Delegate Alfred W. Harris, a black attorney whose offices were in Petersburg, but who lived in and represented Dinwiddie County in the General Assembly. A hostile lawsuit delayed opening day for nineteen months, until October 1, 1883. In 1902, the legislature revised the charter act to curtail the collegiate program and to change the name to Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute.
In 1920, the land-grant program for Blacks was moved from a private school, Hampton Institute, where it had been since 1872, to Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute. In 1923 the college program was restored, and the name was changed to Virginia State College for Negroes in 1930. The two-year branch in Norfolk was added to the college in 1944; the Norfolk division became a four-year branch in 1956 and gained independence as Norfolk State College in 1969. Meanwhile, the parent school was renamed Virginia State College in 1946. Finally, the legislature passed a law in 1979 to provide the present name, Virginia State University.
In the first academic year, 1883–1884, the university had 126 students and seven faculty (all of them black), one building, 33 acres (13 ha), a 200-book library, and a $20,000 budget. By the centennial year of 1982, the university was fully integrated, with a student body of nearly 5,000, a full-time faculty of about 250, a library containing 200,000 books and 360,000 microform and non-print items, a 236-acre (96 ha) campus and 416-acre (168 ha) farm, more than 50 buildings, including 15 dormitories and 16 classroom buildings, and a biennial budget of $31,000,000, exclusive of capital outlay.
The university is situated in Chesterfield County at Ettrick, on a bluff across the Appomattox River from the city of Petersburg. It is accessible via Interstate Highways 95 and 85, which meet in Petersburg. The university is only two and a half hours away from Washington, D.C. to the north, the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area to the southwest, and Charlottesville to the northwest.
The first person to bear the title of President, John Mercer Langston, was one of the best-known blacks of his day. Until 1992, he was the only black ever elected to the United States Congress from Virginia (elected in 1888), and he was the great-uncle of the famed writer Langston Hughes. From 1888 to 1968, four presidents – James H. Johnston, John M. Gandy, Luther H. Foster, Robert P. Daniel served an average of 20 years, helping the school to overcome adversity and move forward. The next twenty years, 1968–1992, saw six more presidents—James F. Tucker, Wendell P. Russell, Walker H. Quarles, Jr., Thomas M. Law, Wilbert Greenfield, and Wesley Cornelious McClure. On June 1, 1993, Eddie N. Moore, Jr., the former Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Virginia, became the twelfth President of Virginia State University. Dr. Keith T. Miller became Virginia State University's 13th president from 2010 to 2014. In 2015, Dr. Pamela V. Hammond became the first woman to lead Virginia State University in 133 years. She was appointed as interim president on January 1, 2015. On February 1, 2016, President Makola Abdullah, Ph.D., was named as the 14th president of Virginia State University. Dr. Abdullah previously served as provost and senior vice president at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. President Abdullah is a Chicago native who is the youngest African American to receive a Ph.D. in engineering. He earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University in civil engineering and a Master of Science in civil engineering from Northwestern University.
In 2020, MacKenzie Scott donated $30 million to Virginia State. Her donation is the largest single gift in Virginia State's history.
The university has a 231-acre (0.93 km2) main campus and a 412-acre (1.67 km2) agricultural research facility known as the Randolph Farm. The main campus includes more than 50 buildings, including 11 dormitories and 18 academic buildings. The main campus is located close to the Appomattox River in Ettrick, Virginia.
This is a list of the departments within each college:
The 2017–2018 student body was 57.4% female and 43% male. It consists of 69.7% in-state and 30.3% out-of-state students. 97.2% of students live on campus and 2.8% off-campus. 91.1% of students self-identify as Black/African American, while 4.0% are White, and 4.0% are racially unreported.
Main article: Virginia State Trojans
Virginia State has 14 Division II athletic teams on campus.
Virginia State University has a very active National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) along with six other non Pan-Hellenic fraternities and sororities which include the following active fraternities and sororities:
The Virginia State University Trojan Explosion is composed of instrumentalists, Essence of Troy Dancers, Satin Divas Flag, and Troy Elegance Twirlers.
The famed “Marching 110,” was built during the leadership of Dr. F. Nathaniel Pops Gatlin and Dr. Claiborne T. Richardson. In 1984 the marching band was renamed the “Trojan Explosion” under the direction of Harold J. Haughton, Sr. and the music department began to grow. In 2013, Professor James Holden, Jr. became Director of Bands. In addition to serving as director of the world renowned VSU Gospel Chorale, Holden has served as assistant director of Bands since 1984. Arguably one of the top arrangers in the country, Holden is known throughout the musical world as an exquisite saxophonist.
The renowned Trojan Explosion Marching Band is a captivating show style band executing high intensity, musicality and showmanship on and off the field. The Trojan Explosion has been selected to attend the Honda Battle of the Bands 9 consecutive years. In addition to numerous accolades and achievements, the drum line performed at the White House for President Barack Obama during the signing of the HBCU Funding Bill. The Trojan Explosion don blue and orange for home games and blue, orange and white for away games.
Originally led by head coach Paulette Johnson, for 35 years, the Woo Woos are a nationally recognized cheerleading squad known for original, up-tempo and high energy performances. The 30 member squad is composed of young women from all over the country. The squad focuses on community service as well as promoting school spirit. Tryouts are held annually during the spring semester for VSU full-time students. Instructional camps and workshops are offered throughout the state.
In 2001, the university granted the Woo Woo Alumni chapter its initial charter. The organization has a rapidly growing membership that is actively involved in the promotion of the squad and its individual members. Shandra Claiborne, a former Woo Woo, led the team for one year following the retirement of Johnson. The squad has been under the leadership of former Woo Woo Cassandra Artis-Williams since 2013.
The Department of Music had a recording Concert Choir. In 1974, This choir recorded an album entitled The Undine Smith Moore Song Book a recording in the series of Afro-American heritage in songs. This recording was third in the series, which aspired to produce a recording each year of the works of this black composer who was a former faculty member and co-director of the Black Man in American Music Center. The choir also performed selections from this series in Baltimore at Bethel AME Church," including songs from a group of gospel selections arranged by VSC students Larry Bland, Janet Coleman, and Roger Holliman." Several graduates of VSC were living in Baltimore, and came to join the choir at the end of the program as they sang the Evening Song.
This list includes graduates, non-graduate former students and current students of Virginia State University.
|Trenton Cannon||2017||NFL running back for the New York Jets|
|Gaye Adegbalola||1978||Blues singer and civil rights activist|
|Deshauna Barber||2011||Miss USA 2016, Top 9 in Miss Universe 2016|||
|Clara Byrd Baker||Educator, civic leader, and suffragist|||
|Aline Elizabeth Black||Educator and the focus of a civil rights suit|
|Joe Bonner||Jazz pianist|||
|Herman Branson||1936||African American physicist, best known for his research on the alpha helix protein structure|||
|Rovenia M. Brock||Nutritionist, lecturer, health reporter, entrepreneur, and author|||
|Al Bumbry||Major League Baseball|||
|Larry Brooks||1971||Former NFL defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams and current assistant coach of the Virginia State Trojans football team|
|James Brown||Former NFL player|
|Pamela E. Bridgewater||Former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and current U.S. ambassador to Jamaica|
|Rufus Crawford||Former NFL and CFL player|
|Rosalyn Dance||1986||Politician, Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from the 63rd district|||
|Das EFX||attended||Rap group|
|Silas DeMary||1993||Arena Football League player|||
|Wale Folarin||DC Rapper (transferred to Bowie State University)|
|Roger L. Gregory||1975||Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit|||
|Aaron Hall||attended||Member of the Music Group Guy|
|Damion Hall||attended||Member of the Music Group Guy|
|Otelia Shields Howard||attended||English instructor at VSC from 1921 to 1945|||
|Delores G. Kelley||1956||Member of Maryland State Senate, representing Maryland's District 10 in Baltimore County, Maryland|
|Kelvin Kinney||Former NFL player|
|Reginald F. Lewis||1965||Businessman; owner of TLC Beatrice International|
|William H. Lewis||c. 1890||Former United States Assistant Attorney General|
|Naomi Long Madgett||1945||Teacher and an award winning poet, she is also the senior editor of Lotus Press, which is a publisher of poetry books by African-American poets|||
|Lucy McBath||1982||U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia|||
|Amaza Lee Meredith||c. 1926||One of the nation's first black female architects (International Style).|||
|Thomas Miller||Prolific graphic designer and visual artist, whose best known publicly accessible work is the collection of mosaics of the founders of DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, Illinois.|||
|Héctor Martínez Muñoz||First member of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico|
|Jim Mitchell||Former NFL player|
|Ora Brown Stokes Perry||1900||clubwoman, community organizer in Richmond|||
|Al Stewart||1990||Acting Secretary of labor under Joe Biden, Deputy Director of Labor|
|James H. Stith||1963||African-American physicist and current professor of Physics at Ohio State University|||
|Roslyn Tyler||Politician, Member of the Virginia House of Delegates from the 75th district|
|Billy Taylor||Jazz musician|
|Dennis L. Via||1980||Four star general, U.S. Army, Retired, 18th Commanding General United States Army Materiel Command (AMC)|
|Gladys West||1952 (BS), 1955 (MS)||Mathematician inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame|
|Ken Whitlock||CFL player, first black player for the Toronto Argonauts|||
|Camilla Williams||1941||First African-American to receive a contract from a major American opera company|
|Benjie E. Wimberly||Member of the New Jersey General Assembly|||
|Avis Wyatt||2007?||Professional basketball player|
|Bashorun Olalekan||Nigerian academic|
|Matilda Booker||1911||American educator and administrator|||