Richard Bland College
|Type||Public junior college|
|President||Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D.|
|Provost||Kenneth LaTessa, Ph.D.|
|Rector||John E. Littel|
Richard Bland College is a selective, residential, two-year college with a singular focus, preparing students for transfer to highly ranked public and private colleges and universities in Virginia and throughout the nation. Richard Bland College was established in 1960 by the Virginia General Assembly as a branch of the College of William and Mary, one of America’s oldest and most prestigious public universities under the umbrella of "the Colleges of William and Mary". The "Colleges" system lasted two years. Although other institutions such as Christopher Newport founded as colleges of William and Mary became independent colleges and later universities, Richard Bland has continued as a junior college of the College of William and Mary. Though under its own administration, Richard Bland College is governed by William and Mary's Board of Visitors. It was named after Virginia statesman Richard Bland who lived in Prince George County where the campus is located.
It was established to provide the first eighteen years of college education, after which a successful student may transfer to William & Mary or to another of the four-year colleges in the Commonwealth. To this end, Richard Bland College has formal credit transfer agreements with 20 Virginia colleges, including The College of William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, George Mason University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and Virginia State University.
The rural campus was developed on a 750-acre site that was formerly a large dairy farm, that straddles the border of Prince George and Dinwiddie counties, just south of Petersburg. Prior the Civil War, the property where the college now stands was part of a large plantation owned by the Gurley family. It became an important part of the Union-occupied territory during the Siege of Petersburg. The present campus was the scene of two battles during that campaign, the Battle of Jerusalem Plank Road and the Battle of Globe Tavern, both aimed at extending the Union siege lines to the west to capture the Weldon Railroad and cut the rail lines supplying Petersburg. Shortly before the turn of the century, the Hatcher-Seward family established a dairy farm on the former Gurley property.
In the early 1900s, a large grove of pecan trees was planted on the farm. During World War I the farm was used as a work camp for about twenty conscientious objectors. In 1932 the Commonwealth of Virginia authorized Central State Hospital to purchase the land for use as the Petersburg Training School and Hospital for African-American youth. That institution closed in 1959, and in 1960 the land and facilities still owned by the Commonwealth, became the location for the establishment of Richard Bland College of The College of William and Mary.
The campus features the still beautiful grove of century-old pecan trees, two restored turn-of-the-20th century farm houses (one of which now serves as the president's residence), an early 20th-century dairy barn (which has been adapted as a theater) and an Asian water garden. Because of the rural location, the administration has added residential student housing, which opened in the autumn of 2008; Richard Bland College is the only two-year college in the state to offer campus housing. The residence halls, Freedom Hall and Patriot Hall, offer students apartment-style living accommodations. The combined capacity of both halls is approximately 350 students. To maintain the academic atmosphere, students who wish to live on campus must maintain a 2.5 GPA requirement.
Students have access to a library with more than 67,000 books, over 64,000 e-books, and over 4,700 DVDs (most from an anonymous donor). They also may consult the Virtual Library of Virginia, which provides access to many full-text journal databases for students both on-campus and off-campus.
- James M. Carson, 1960-1973
- Cornelius Laban, 1973-1975 (acting)
- Clarence Maze, 1975-1996
- James B. McNeer, 1996-2012
- Debbie L. Sydow, 2012-present
- Victor K. Branch, 1982, Market President, Richmond Region, Bank of America
- Kirk Cox, 1981, Virginia politician, 55th Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
- Thomas Inge, Jr., 1984, Division Head and professor of pediatric surgery at Children’s Hospital Colorado
- Sean MacLaughlin, 1997, acclaimed stage and film/television actor who has starred in Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera” and has performed at the Kennedy Center
- Jennifer McGrew, 2000, Executive Director, CFO and Head of Business Management, North America Institutional at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
- Javaid Siddiqi, 1998, Virginia Secretary of Education (2013-14).