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On this date in 1950, Mississippi Valley State University was founded in Bena in the heart of the Delta. It is one of over 100 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in America.
Created by the Mississippi Legislature as Mississippi Vocational College in 1946, the institution aimed to train teachers for rural and elementary schools and provide vocational training. Under its original name and purpose, the institution provided many first-generation college students with higher education opportunities. Its name was changed to Mississippi Valley State College in 1964. The institution's name was changed again in 1974 to Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU).
It receives funds from the Mississippi Legislature and other sources such as student fees, federal sources, and private gifts and grants. The academic programs of MVSU offer opportunities in the arts, humanities, sciences, technology, and professional fields of business, education, special services, and pre-professional health services. Enrichment programs and support services help students achieve their personal and professional goals. The school historically has drawn most of its students from the predominantly Black Mississippi Delta region. It is committed to serving the broadest possible population in the Delta, the state, and the nation.
The primary function of the institution is as an instructional program combined with a complementary research program. Public service is an essential function of the institution as it attempts to affect the economic and cultural development of the region. Institutional research activities provide essential data to plan and develop effective instructional programs, viable student support services, and adequate physical resources.
The university provides the community with valuable professional and material resources through public service activities. These range from the individual involvement of university faculty and staff to structured programs in continuing education, social awareness, and recreation. MVSU aims to produce graduates who can write, speak, think, and calculate at an effective level in our society and who achieve sufficient depth of understanding and skill in their major field to find employment, continue their graduate study, and become contributing members of society. Notable alumni include Katie Hall.