About Virginia State University

Virginia State University was founded on March 6, 1882, when the state legislature passed a bill to charter the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute.  Delegate Alfred W. Harris, a Black attorney who represented Dinwiddie County in the General Assembly, sponsored the bill.  A hostile lawsuit delayed opening day for nineteen months until October 1, 1883.  In 1902, the legislature revised the charter act to curtail the collegiate program and to change the name to Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute.  In 1920, the land-grant program for Blacks was moved from a private school, Hampton Institute, where it had been since 1872, to Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute.  In 1923, the college program was restored and the name changed, in 1930, to Virginia State College for Negroes.  A two-year branch in Norfolk was added to the college in 1944.  The Norfolk division became a four-year branch in 1956 and gained independence as Norfolk State College in 1969.  The parent school was renamed Virginia State College in 1946 and later, Virginia State University in 1979.

The University is situated in Chesterfield County at Ettrick on a bluff across the Appomattox River from the city of Petersburg.  It is accessible via Interstate Highways 95 and 85, which meet in Petersburg.  The University is only two and a half hours from Washington, DC to the north, Virginia Beach, VA to the east, the Raleigh-Durham-chapel Hill area to the southwest, and Charlottesville to the northwest.

Under the leadership of the current president, Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D., Virginia State University is proudly committed to:

  • Providing a transformative experience for our students
  • Strategically investing in our academic programs
  • Embracing our position as a top Land Grant University
  • Embracing our role as Virginia’s Opportunity University
  • Partnering together as a University to tell our story