Virginia Union University
Postcard: Pickford Hall, Virginia Union University. Virginia Historical Society
By 4 March 1876 the General Assembly had passed an act incorporating the
school today known as Virginia Union University. Initially known as Colver Institute, the school was established
shortly after the end of the Civil War by the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS). At that time,
the primary goal of the school was to educate and train recently emancipated African Americans to enter
the Baptist ministry. Over the years, the mission of the institute would broaden to encompass numerous
fields of study.
Virginia Union University (VUU) was created in 1899 by the merger of the former Colver
Institute (then known as Richmond Theological Seminary) and another ABHMS college, Wayland
Seminary of Washington, D.C. During the first quarter of the twentieth century, the school expanded
its course offerings to include a wide variety of subjects, including education, law, religion, foreign
languages, English, social work, medicine, and business administration. Dr. George Rice Hovey,
the second president of the university, obtained land near the campus for athletic fields and helped
to establish a highly successful athletic program at VUU. It was also during the 1920s that nearby
Hartshorn Memorial College, the first African American women's college in the United States to
confer bachelorís degrees, merged with the university.
Over the years, Virginia Union University's enrollment has grown to more than 1,600 students. Today's
students can obtain degrees in a wide variety of fields that help prepare them for a successful career.
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