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Sun, 02.07.1886

Virginia University of Lynchburg is Founded

*The founding of Virginia University of Lynchburg (VUL) is celebrated on this date in 1886. 

VUL is a private, historically Black Christian University in Lynchburg, Virginia. The university offers instruction and degrees, primarily in religious studies, including a Doctor of Ministry program. The campus is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Virginia University of Lynchburg is the city's oldest school of higher learning.

The school was incorporated in 1888 by the Virginia Baptist State Convention as the coeducational "Lynchburg Baptist Seminary."  Its first President was the Rev. Phillip F. Morris, pastor of the city's Court Street Baptist Church. Seeking a financial patron, Morris agreed to step down from the pulpit to assume full-time school leadership.  Rev. Gregory W. Hayes, a graduate of Oberlin College, assumed the full-time position as President in 1891, serving until he died in 1906. His wife, Mary Rice Hayes Allen, biracial daughter of a Confederate general and mother of author Carrie Allen McCray, assumed the presidency until Dr. JRL Diggs replaced her in 1908. 

During Hayes' administration, controversy arose between Black separatists and accommodationists over the school's future. The chief patron wished it to become a pre-collegiate manual training institution. Among the separatists, Hayes returned the patronage to retain and strengthen Black autonomy and academic integrity. This move eventually led to a schism within the National Baptist Convention.  Classes were first held in 1890 under the name Virginia Seminary.  With the offering of a collegiate program in 1900, the name was again changed to Virginia Theological Seminary and College.

In 1962, the institution was renamed the Virginia Seminary and College. Finally, in 1996, the school was given its current name. The campus includes three historic academic buildings on 6.82 acres: Graham Hall (1917), Humbles Hall (1920–21), and the Mary Jane Cachelin Memorial Science and Library Building (1946). These buildings and the Hayes Monument (c. 1906) comprise a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.  That same year, the school agreed with Liberty University to help VUL students looking for degrees not offered to complete their degrees at Liberty.  

Among the university's alumni is John Chilembwe, who graduated in 1901. The Virginia University of Lynchburg was formerly a United States Collegiate Athletic Association. After exiting the USCAA, Virginia University of Lynchburg is now a National Christian College Athletic Association NCCAA member. Due to insufficient academic accreditation, they are currently ineligible to join the NCAA and the NAIA. They are athletically known as the Dragons. Men's sports include basketball, football, and track and field, while women's sports include basketball and track and field.




Black American Colleges and Universities:
Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools
by Levin Hill, Pub., Gale Group, 1994
ISBN: 0-02-864984-2

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