The University was founded in 1865 to give the newly emancipated freedmen an opportunity for education of the mind in an ethical, religious environment. A historically black university, Virginia Union University embraces the uniqueness and contributions of the African Diaspora, celebrating the value of cultural and intellectual diversity. However, enrollment is open to all students without regard to racial background.
The University provides comprehensive undergraduate liberal arts programs and graduate education for Christian ministries. To this end, a guiding principle of the University's educational program is a strong focus upon moral values and ethics, and students are encouraged to engage in activities that promote self-actualization.
*first VUU alumnus and African-American to serve as President of the University
Pickford Hall, Virginia Union University
The American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) founded the school in 1865 shortly after Union troops took control of Richmond, Virginia, at the end of the American Civil War. Approximately 4 million former African American slaves, or freedmen, were to become citizens. Many had been deprived of formal education and prevented from becoming literate by Southern state laws. Southern states were in economic upheaval after the war.
Members of the ABHMS proposed a National Theological Institute to educate freedmen wishing to enter the Baptist ministry. Soon the proposed mission was expanded to offer courses and programs at college, high school, and preparatory levels, to both men and women. This effort was the beginning of Virginia Union University.
In Richmond, the efforts were more difficult. Beginning in 1867, Colver Institute, a VUU predecessor school, 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. In 1899, the Richmond Theological Institute (formerly Colver Institute) joined with Wayland Seminary of Washington to form Virginia Union University at Richmond.
Virginia Union University's Theological training program is called "The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University". The school of theology has produced preachers such as Dean John W. Kinney, Dr. Miles Jones, Dr. A.B. James, Dr. James Henry Harris. The School is a member of the Washington Theological Consortium.
Virginia Union competes in the NCAADivision 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.
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.