The College of Business History

The College of Business at Virginia State University was created in 1929 as the Department of Business Administration – a unit in the School of Arts and Sciences.  Two programs were offered: Secretarial Studies and Business Administration.

The 1929 catalog listed four faculty members. The "Business Administration" curriculum included two years of typewriting, two years of stenography/office procedures, business organization, money and banking, commercial law, bookkeeping, accounting, and principles of insurance.

In 1930, Mr. George C. Singleton was named as the Chief Administrator (Head of Department and later, Director of Division) of the Department and continued in that capacity for more than 30 years. During that period, program offerings were expanded. Business (teacher) education and accounting programs were added in 1933, and in 1938, the Department initiated courses leading to the Master of Arts degree in Business Administration. Increases in enrollment with concomitant increases in faculty/staff, and growing prominence as a provider of high quality business program, led to the establishment of the School of Commerce in 1951. The School was organized into five departments – Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, and Secretarial Studies.

Dr. Edward W. Whitlow was named Director (Dean) of the School of Commerce in 1966 and served as dean until 1978. Growth in enrollment during this period was phenomenal. Graduate program offerings were expanded to include four Master's degrees: M.S. and M.Ed. (business education), M.A. and M.Econ (economics). The Bureau of Economics Research and Development (BERD) was established and undergraduate program offerings were refined, developed and expanded.

In December 2006, the College of Business was accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AASCB). In July 2010, the College was named for Reginald F. Lewis, alum and entrepreneur. In August 2010, the College began an integrated core curriculum which has gone "green" through digital delivery (which includes textbooks in most of the core courses). In August 2011, the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business unveiled its online learning community, in which students can view videos, blog posts, and comments from classmates and professors that are related to their course work.

About Reginald F. Lewis

Reginald F. Lewis of East Baltimore, Maryland was one the most successful businessmen in the 1980s. The Virginia State University graduate went on to Harvard Law School. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1968, he helped set up Wall Street's first African American law firm. This law firm was the first to help minority businesses structure their finances and investments. His company also became a special council to General Foods and Equitable Life. Reginald F. Lewis' personal drive for making business deals became prevalent went he invested in the then struggling company, McCall Pattern Company. Under Lewis's command, the company turned its highest profit margin in its 113 year history. He sold the company for nearly triple the amount of his primary investment. 

After enjoying his success from his first business venture, Lewis went back to work. Lewis purchased Beatrice Foods, an international food supplier. Lewis helped turned the $925 million dollar company into a 1.5 billion dollar company. This success led him to become the first African American to own and operate a billion dollar business in the United States.

In 1993 his life was cut short due to brain cancer. However, the Reginald F. Lewis Foundation continues to fulfill Mr. Lewis' legacy and vision through generous philanthropy. The foundation contributes to the education and advancement for minorities. RFL Foundation started the Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland. Numerous scholarship programs and aid have been given to selected universities and colleges, both domestic and foreign. In August of 2010, the foundation made a donation of $1.5 million to Virginia State University, the College's largest donation to date. This contribution, in turn, led to the College of Business being named the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business. Virginia State University, and the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business will continue to expand and break barriers as Reginald F. Lewis did.