Robert Ryland (March 14, 1805 – April 23, 1899) was the first president of Richmond College (now the University of Richmond), serving from 1841 to 1866. Prior to the establishment of the college, he had served as the only superintendent of its predecessor institution, the Virginia Baptist Seminary, since 1832.
Ryland served as the first senior minister for the First African Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia from 1841 to 1865. The church is a prominent Black church founded in 1841, its members initially included both slaves and freedmen. It has since had a major influence on the local black community. At one point, it was one of the largest Protestant churches in the United States. Reverend Robert Ryland owned slaves himself and believed that slavery was the best way to convert Africans to Christianity.
Ryland Hall on the University of Richmond's campus is named in honor of both Robert Ryland and his nephew, Charles H. Ryland.
From 1841 to 1865, concurrent with his term as president of Richmond College, Ryland served as pastor of First African Baptist Church in Richmond. In 1868, Ryland became president of Shelbyville Female College in Shelbyville, Kentucky. He subsequently also served as president of female colleges in New Castle and Lexington, Kentucky. From 1893 until 1897, he served as chaplain of the Southwest Virginia Institute in Bristol, Virginia.
- History of the University of Richmond: People: Rev. Robert Ryland
- <Leveen, Lois (24 January 2011). "The North of the South". New York Times. Retrieved 27 January 2011.>
- History of the University of Richmond: Architecture: Ryland Hall
- Troubetzkoy, Ulrich (May 4, 1952). "Ryland Street Bears Name Of First Head of College" (Reprint). Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
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