Virginia Union University
Former names
Colver Institute (1865–1886)[1]
Richmond Theological Institute (1886–1899)
Wayland Seminary (1865–1899)
Hartshorn Memorial College (1883–1932)
MottoThe Lord Will Provide
TypePrivate historically black university
Established1865; 159 years ago (1865)
Endowment$29 million
PresidentHakim Lucas
United States

37°33′45″N 77°27′4″W / 37.56250°N 77.45111°W / 37.56250; -77.45111
CampusUrban, 84 acres (34 ha)
ColorsMaroon and Steel
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division II – CIAA
Virginia Union University
Location1500 N. Lombardy St., Richmond, Virginia, United States
Area11 acres (4.5 ha)
ArchitectJohn H. Coxhead
Architectural styleRichardsonian Romanesque
NRHP reference No.82004590[2]
VLR No.127-0354
Significant dates
Added to NRHPJuly 26, 1982
Designated VLRJune 16, 1981[3]

Virginia Union University is a private historically black university in Richmond, Virginia.


Pickford Hall, Virginia Union University

The American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) founded the school as Richmond Theological Institute in 1865 shortly after Union troops took control of Richmond, Virginia, at the end of the American Civil War, for African-American freedmen to enter into the ministry.[4] The college had the first academic library at a historically black college or university (HBCU), building the library in 1865 which was the same year the college was established.[5]

Its mission was soon expanded to offer courses and programs at college, high school, and preparatory levels, to both men and women.[6] 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 Francis Wayland, former president of Brown University and a leader in the anti-slavery struggle. The first and only president there was George Mellen Prentiss King, who administered Wayland for thirty years (1867–1897). Famous students there included Booker T. Washington and Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.[6]

Beginning in 1867, Colver Institute was housed in a building long known as Lumpkin's Jail, a former "slave jail" owned by Mary Ann Lumpkin, the African-American widow of the deceased white owner. It became Richmond Theological Institute (formerly Colver) and joined with Wayland Seminary of Washington in 1899 to form Virginia Union University at Richmond.[7]

In 1932, the women's college Hartshorn Memorial College,[8][9] established in Richmond in 1883, became a part of Virginia Union University. Storer College, a historically black Baptist college in West Virginia founded in 1867, merged its endowment with Virginia Union in 1964.[10]

List of presidents
Name Term
Malcolm MacVicar 1899–1904
George Rice Hovey 1904–1918
William John Clark 1919–1941
John Malcus Ellison* 1941–1955
Samuel Dewitt Proctor 1955–1960
Thomas Howard Henderson 1960–1970
Allix Bledsoe James 1970–1979
David Thomas Shannon 1979–1985
S. Dallas Simmons 1985–1999
Bernard Wayne Franklin 1999–2003
Belinda C. Anderson 2003–2008
Claude G. Perkins 2009–2016
Joseph F. Johnson 2016–2017 (acting)
Hakim J. Lucas 2017–present
*first alumnus and African-American to serve as president of the university


The university is divided into four main schools:[11]

Theology program

Virginia Union University's Theological training program is called The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology. James Henry Harris, the early American civil rights advocate, was a graduate. The school is a member of the Washington Theological Consortium.[12]

Student activities

There are over 20 student organizations, including several fraternities and sororities.


Main article: Virginia Union Panthers

Panthers Cheer Squad

Virginia Union competes in the NCAA Division II in the Eastern Division of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The school has varsity teams in men's basketball, football, cross country, golf, tennis and track and field, and in women's basketball, bowling, cross country, tennis and track and field, softball and volleyball.[13]

In 2018, both Virginia Union University's DII Men & Women's Basketball Teams won the CIAA Championship.[14] Virginia Union plays basketball and volleyball in the Barco-Stevens Hall, built as the Belgian Building for the 1939 New York World's Fair. The building, which has stone reliefs depicting the Belgian Congo, was one of thirteen facilities designated as "unique" by NCAA News in 2005. The building was awarded to the university in 1941 and moved to its present location in 1943. The basketball team began using the facility in early 1947.[15]


It is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches USA. [16]

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Roger Anderson NFL player
James Atkins 2002 Former NFL player
Mamye BaCote 1961 Virginia House of Delegates (2004-2016)
Darius Bea attended two years Negro league outfielder and pitcher [17]
Bessye J. Bearden 1900s Journalist and social activist; mother of artist Romare Bearden
Leslie Garland Bolling 1924 Early 20th century wood carver
Simeon Booker 1941 award-winning journalist and the first African-American reporter for The Washington Post
Michael Brim 1988 former National Football League player
Roslyn M. Brock 1987 Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Homer S. Brown judge, civil rights leader, and state representative in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Henry Allen Bullock 1928 Historian, winner of the Bancroft Prize
Tamarat Makonnen 1994 Film director, producer and writer
Emmett C. Burns, Jr. Maryland House of Delegates (1995–2006)
Terry Davis 1989 Former NBA player [18]
Robert Prentiss Daniel 1924 President of Shaw and Virginia State universities for more than 30 years in total [19]
Will Downing attended R&B Singer
AJ English 1990 former Professional Basketball Player [18]
Walter Fauntroy 1955 Civil rights leader, minister, former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, from Washington, D.C.'s At-large district and was a candidate for the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination
Anderson J. Franklin Professor of Psychology at the School of Education at Boston College [20]
Samuel Lee Gravely, Jr. 1948 first African-American to reach the rank of admiral in the United States Navy
Abram Lincoln Harris 1922 Economist; chair, Economics Dept. Howard University (1936–1945); professor, University of Chicago
Pete Hunter 2002 former National Football League player
Cornelius Johnson 1967 Former NFL player
Eugene Kinckle Jones 1906 Member of the Black Cabinet under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and a founder of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Dwight Clinton Jones 1967 Mayor of Richmond, Virginia (2009–2016)
Charles Spurgeon Johnson 1916 first black president of Fisk University
Lyman T. Johnson 1930 integrated the University of Kentucky
Leontine T. Kelly 1960 a bishop of the United Methodist Church
Henry L. Marsh 1956 first African-American mayor of Richmond, Virginia and member of the Virginia Senate from the 16th district
Benjamin Mays 1916-1917, transferred to Bates College President of Morehouse College, mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Bai T. Moore Liberian author and poet
Delores McQuinn 1976 Virginia House of Delegates (2009-present)
Charles Oakley Professional basketball Player [18]
Chandler Owen 1913 Writer, editor and early member of the Socialist Party of America.
Wendell H. Phillips member, Maryland House of Delegates (1979–1987)
Samuel DeWitt Proctor 1942 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; founder of TransAfrica
James R. Roebuck, Jr. 1966 member of Pennsylvania House of Representatives, District 188
Spottswood William Robinson III 1937 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
Frank S. Royal 1961 chairman of VUU's board; director of public companies; former president of the National Medical Association [21]
Herbert Scott 1974 National Football League player, 2-time All-Pro, 3-time Pro Bowl; Dallas Cowboys [22]
Clarence L. Townes Jr. 1948 businessperson, politician, and civic activist from Richmond, Virginia [23]
Wyatt T Walker Activist, civil rights motivator, musician, Theologian who gave letter to Martin Luther King from Coretta; close confidant and preacher
Ben Wallace 1996 Professional Basketball Player, NBA Defensive Player of the Year, NBA Champion, Member of Basketball Hall of Fame; Detroit Pistons [18]
Douglas Wilder 1951 first African-American governor of Virginia (1990–1994) and Mayor of Richmond (2005–2009)
N. Scott Phillips 1983 member, Maryland House of Delegates


  1. ^ "Nathaniel Colver". Encyclopedia Virginia. Archived from the original on December 14, 2022. Retrieved December 14, 2022.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  3. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
  4. ^ Raymond Pierre Hylton, Virginia Union University, Arcadia Publishing, USA, 2014, p. 7
  5. ^ Wheeler, Maurice, et al. “A Brief History of Library Service to African Americans.” American Libraries, vol. 35, no. 2, 2004, pp. 42–45. JSTOR,
  6. ^ a b "Virginia Union University (1865– )". Online Encyclopedia of Significant People and Places in African American History. January 10, 2010. Archived from the original on May 31, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  7. ^ William H. Brackney, Congregation and Campus: Baptists in Higher Education, Mercer University Press, USA, 2008, p. 174
  8. ^ "A Guide to the Hartshorn Memorial College Reunion Collection 1976–1980". L. Douglas Wilder Library Archives. February 7, 1980. Archived from the original on October 9, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  9. ^ "Virginia Archives Month October 2007: Images in Celebration". Library of Virginia Archives. Archived from the original on January 3, 2009. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  10. ^ Hylton, Raymond. "University History". About Virginia Union. Virginia Union University. Archived from the original on May 12, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012.
  11. ^ "Virginia Union University | Schools". Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  12. ^ "Member Institutions". Washington Theological Consortium. Archived from the original on June 22, 2009. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
  13. ^ "Men's Sports / Women's Sports". Virginia Union University Athletics website. Archived from the original on March 17, 2022. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  14. ^ Newsroom, NBC12 (March 4, 2018). "VUU men's, women's basketball teams win CIAA Championship". Archived from the original on November 17, 2020. Retrieved February 4, 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  15. ^ "Facilities: Barco-Stevens Hall". Virginia Union University Athletics website. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  16. ^ American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Colleges and Universities Archived October 26, 2021, at the Wayback Machine,, USA, retrieved October 22, 2022
  17. ^ Zabitka, Matt (July 30, 1952). "UC's Doc Bea Shoots Pool to Sharpen Batting Eye; Triple Off Satchel Paige Brought Words of Warning" Archived June 25, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. Chester Times. p. 16. Retrieved June 25, 2021.
  18. ^ a b c d "NBA/ABA Players who attended Virginia Union University". DataBase Sports. Archived from the original on September 20, 2006. Retrieved June 17, 2006.
  19. ^ Guthrie, R.V. (1998). Production of Black Psychologists in America: 'Even the Rat Was White' (2nd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon. pp. 155–212.
  20. ^ "Anderson J Franklin Boston College". Boston College, Lynch School of Education. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  21. ^ "Meharry board chair to retire after 30 years". Nashville Post. January 10, 2017. Archived from the original on May 23, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  22. ^ Ellis, Josh (May 30, 2012). "The Ultimate 53: Herb Scott Can't Be Forgotten". Dallas Archived from the original on May 31, 2012.
  23. ^ Hylton, Dr Raymond Pierre (2014). Virginia Union University. Arcadia Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4671-2248-1. Archived from the original on March 30, 2024. Retrieved March 30, 2024.