Historically Black Colleges and Universities hold a proud tradition across the country, having grown into institutions that consistently produce top talent in a variety of academic fields. In the Higher Education Act of 1965, Congress defined an HBCU as “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.” Virginia is home to five of the 105 HBCUs nationwide:
Hampton University 100 E. Queen St., Hampton, Virginia
- Mascot: The Pirate
- Fast Facts: Founded in 1868 and one of the top HBCUs in the country, Hampton University offers more than 80 academic programs, ranging from business to broadcast journalism. Hampton is home to the largest freestanding proton therapy facility in the world, offering noninvasive, precise treatment for several types of cancer. Notable alumni include author and civil rights leader Booker T. Washington, Alberta Williams King (mother of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and Emmy-award winning comedienne Wanda Sykes.
Norfolk State University 700 Park Ave., Norfolk, Virginia
Photo courtesy Norfolk State University
- Mascot: The Spartan
- Fast Facts: Nestled in Virginia’s Tidewater region, NSU was “selected as the lead institution in a $25 million cyber security education and workforce pipeline initiative,” according to the school’s website. Vice President Joe Biden visited NSU to announce the grant. A leader in technology education, NSU offers a cutting-edge online science master’s degree in cyber security.
Virginia Union University 1500 N. Lombardy St., Richmond, Virginia
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chairman Roslyn M. Brock is a VUU alumnus, as well as L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American governor of Virginia — and the first African-American governor of any state in the country. (Photo by Ayasha Sledge)
- Mascot: The Panther
- Fast Facts: Virginia Union’s rich history began in 1865, as the dust of the Civil War settled in Richmond. “It was then that representatives from our founding organization, the American Baptist Home Mission Society, came to the former Confederate capital as teachers and missionaries,” reads the school’s history. By November 1865, Richmond Theological School for Freedmen, one of the four institutions forming the “Union” of VUU’s namesake, was created. The school educated former slaves and was situated at the site of Lumpkin’s Jail, a former slave holding pen and “breaking center.” National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chairman Roslyn M. Brock is a VUU alumnus, as well as L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American governor of Virginia — and the first African-American governor of any state in the country.
Virginia State University 1 Hayden Drive, Petersburg, Virginia
- Mascot: The Trojan
- Fast Facts: One of two land-grant institutions in Virginia, Virginia State University was founded in 1882. In July, VSU was ranked 12th out of 104 HBCUs in the country by an academic ranking website, College Choice. As part of the VSU Cares program, the school partners with other local universities and organizations to provide a variety of health services to the area. The program focuses on “improving the health in the community by addressing health disparities such as the lack of access to dental and health care for the uninsured,” says its website. In July, VSU’s Department of Art & Design was named Best Fine Arts Program at an HBCU for 2015-16 by HBCU Digest. Art & Design students may center their career studies around animation, graphic design, studio arts or web design.
Virginia University of Lynchburg 2058 Garfield Ave., Lynchburg, Virginia
Humbles Hall on Virginia University of Lynchburg's campus. (Photo courtesy Virginia University of Lynchburg)
- Mascot: Dragons
- Fast Facts: Organized in May 1886 during the 19th session of the Virginia Baptist State Convention, Virginia University of Lynchburg was established to “meet the growing demands of our community for better-educated and trained ministers, missionaries, and public school teachers,” the school’s website says. Along with a focus on religious studies, VUL offers arts and sciences as well as management academic programs. In addition to its main campus in Lynchburg, VUL offers classes in Danville, Burgess, Petersburg and Suffolk.
Are HBCUs still relevant in the country's current academic climate? How are they contributing to the academic success of today's students? Read our feature on Virginia's Historically Black Colleges and Universities here.