President To Remain At Virginia State University Through The End Of The Decade

The Virginia State University Board of Visitors has voted to extend the contract of VSU President, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah. The new contract will extend the President’s tenure through the year 2029 by adding five additional years to his current agreement with the University.

“President Abdullah has demonstrated an extraordinary ability to lead and has provided an exceptional and clear vision for Virginia State University,” said Board Rector Valerie K. Brown.  “The University has experienced significant academic growth and prestige under his leadership. We are confident that he will continue to lead Virginia State University on a path to greater.”

President AbdullahDr. Abdullah began his VSU career in February 2016 with an unwavering dedication and commitment to excellence. As the new President, he outlined his core beliefs that became the foundation of his work for VSU: beliefs in God, family, the transformative nature of education, and in Virginia State University. With that foundation in mind, President Abdullah and his new administration began planning the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan: Preeminence with Purpose, to chart the university’s path to continued growth and excellence. His plan set forth the next chapter for VSU which focused on six areas: Student Opportunity and Access, Academic Excellence, The Holistic Experience for Students, Enhancing the Land Grant Mission of the University, Advancing the VSU Brand and Financial/Operational Effectiveness.

Under President Abdullah’s leadership and guidance, VSU experienced the single largest year-to-year increase in enrollment in more than a decade and the highest retention rate in more than twenty years. The University also increased the 4-year graduation rate to the highest recorded rate in the University’s history. Virginia State University has also placed in U.S. News and World Report’s top 30 in the Best Overall HBCUs for 2022, ranked in the top 30% in the “Performers on Social Mobility” list, Top 10 in Student Retention Programs at HBCUs, and top 15% of Bang-for-your-Buck institutions in the Southeast Region of the United States. The University has extended its academic offerings with newly added undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. In addition, the University now also offers several fully online programs/degrees and has implemented a new free tuition program for students from area high schools.

Under Dr. Abdullah’s guidance, VSU received a $30 million gift—the largest single donor gift in the University’s history. Virginia State University also renamed four buildings on campus to honor Black women who made significant contributions to the University. In addition, in Fall 2021, VSU began construction of the $120M Academic Commons building. Once completed, it will be the largest building ever constructed on the VSU campus.

Under the leadership of President Abdullah, in 2018, Virginia State University successfully completed its reaffirmation of accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The University was reaffirmed for 10 years with no recommendations.  The President has also overseen the launch of several major initiatives since taking office. These include the establishment of the John Mercer Langston Institute for African American Political Leadership to assess, develop and empower African American leaders; the establishment of The Center for Policing Leadership and Social Justice to address the critical divide between law enforcement and communities of color; and the establishment of the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging on campus to promote good relations toward and support those who may be subject to discrimination. 

“Serving in this capacity at Virginia State University has been the highlight of my academic career. I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of an education,” said Abdullah.  “I work with the amazing faculty and staff who show an unwavering commitment to excellence in education. I extend my gratitude to the VSU Board of Visitors for their vote of confidence and for giving me the opportunity to continue the GREATER work at Virginia State University through the remainder of this decade.”

During his tenure, President Abdullah has become a national leader—fighting on behalf of the transformative work of Virginia State University and all HBCUs. He was selected to serve on the U.S. President’s Board of Advisors (PBA) on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition, he served as Chair of the Council of 1890s Presidents for Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU); Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges; and Vice Chair of the Council of Presidents for Virginia Institutions of Higher Education; and member of the Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.