Virginia State Universityis a public, historically black college located in Petersburg, Virginia. The university is the first fully supported,four year institution for African Americans in the UnitedStates and is one of two land-grant colleges in the Stateof Virginia.
The university was founded on March 6, 1882 as the VirginiaNormal and College Institute after the state legislature passed a billsponsored by Delegate Alfred W. Harris, a black attorney, which chartered theuniversity. The state established theuniversity to serve the needs of a population that was at the time excludedfrom other public institutions in Virginia. Virginia Normal and College Institute openedas a teacher training college for both male and female black students but italso included a modest liberal arts curriculum.
The campus opened on October 1, 1883 with 126 students andseven faculty members, all of whom were black, on an operating budget of$20,000. In 1885, John Mercer Langston, a leading African American figure ofthe time and soon to be the first African American elected to Congress from Virginia, was named theuniversitys first president.
The school changed its name to Virginia Normal andIndustrial Institute in 1902 after the state legislature revised the charterand curtailed the liberal arts program. In 1920, the state moved its land-grantprogram for blacks from private Hampton Institute, where it had been since1872, to Virginia Normal and IndustrialCollege. The college program was restored in 1923 andthe school was renamed the Virginia State College for Negroes in 1930.
The college opened up a branch campus in Norfolk in 1944, which would later gain itsindependence and become Norfolk State College. In 1946, the school was renamed Virginia State College and finally, in1979, the state legislature passed a law that renamed the institution Virginia State University.
VirginiaState Universityis now a comprehensive university with a student body of over 5,000 students,including 500 graduate students, and over 250 faculty