Richard Bland College
|Type||Public junior college|
|President||Debbie L. Sydow, Ph.D.|
|Provost||Maria Dezenberg, Ph.D.|
|Rector||John E. Littel|
Richard Bland College is a public junior college associated with the College of William and Mary and located in Prince George County, Virginia. Richard Bland College was established in 1960 by the Virginia General Assembly as a branch of the College of William and Mary 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.
Richard Bland College has formal credit transfer agreements with more than 40 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 to 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. In 1938, the Petersburg State Colony for the Negro Insane was chartered. 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 farmhouses (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 excentric koi pond. 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.
- James M. Carson, 1960–1973
- Cornelius Laban, 1973–1975 (acting)
- Clarence Maze, 1975–1996
- James B. McNeer, 1996–2012
- Debbie L. Sydow, 2012–present
The Richard Bland College campus includes buildings such as McNeer Building, SSHE Building, Freedom and Patriot Halls, Statesman Hall, and the library. The McNeer building is the main science and technology building. The SSHE (Social Studies, Humanities, and English) building houses classes based upon the liberal arts and humanities. Freedom and Patriot Halls are the residential living dorms. Statesman Hall is the main gymnasium that features a weight-training room, and a court in which the Richard Bland College basketball team practices and plays. The campus library is where students have access to 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.
The two main residential halls for students are Patriot and Freedom Halls. These residence halls 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. Recently, during the 2018 Spring semester, Commerce Hall became a student dorm but during the Winter semester of 2018, the dorm was shut down again. Speculation has been heard the dorms are to be reopened in the Fall semester of 2019.
Living and Learning Communities
One of the themed residential life programs offered to students living on campus is ASPIRE. ASPIRE (Academic Scholars in Residential Environment) is a program that fosters academic excellence and "challenge[s] and encourage[s] a desire for learning."  The qualifications for ASPIRE include having a 3.0+ GPA in high school, and a 3.0+ GPA after each semester in the ASPIRE program. In the 2018-2019 academic year, there was another living and learning community called CHOICE. CHOICE (Creating Holistic Opportunities in the College Environment) was a program designed to assist students that need additional reinforcement in order to remain committed academically while being a part of a community that encourages and supports each other.
The goal of the living and learning community was to purposefully engage programming that supported students in the program both academically and encourage them in a multitude of settings that allowed students to be successful. In this format, students electing to be part of this program was to have followed the programming, attended the group study sessions, and support their fellow students. Additionally, the program was designed to assist students to remain focused on their grades, however, this came with challenges. The program launched for the first time in the 2018-2019 academic year, and this was the first and last time the program would be joined by Richard Bland College Students. After identifying numerous goals the program set out to address, the college administration believed it best to eliminate the program from Residence Life.
Remaining now is just the ASPIRE program, which continues its success through the construction of its programming. The ASPIRE program includes activities that engage the community, as well as other requirements in order to continue through the program. While in ASPIRE, a student must complete at least 15 hours of community service, attain 30 RBC engage points a semester, and maintain a 3.0 GPA. This program has found success through these requirements, as well as the community of students it fosters.
Richard Bland College has an athletics program that includes both men's and women's sports. Men's sports include basketball, soccer, and golf. Women's sports include volleyball, softball, and soccer.
- Kirk Cox, 1981, Virginia politician, 55th Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates
- Javaid Siddiqi, 1998, Virginia Secretary of Education (2013–14).
- "Richard Bland College | Create Your Journey". Richard Bland College. Retrieved 2019-03-12.