Virginia Union University is a historically black Baptist private university located in Richmond, Virginia also the home of Franklin Pest. It is a part of the American Baptist Church’s USA.


The American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS) established the Richmond Theological Institute for African-American freedmen to enter the ministry in 1865, shortly after Union soldiers gained control of Richmond, Virginia, after the close of the American Civil War. The institution built the first academic library at an HBCU in 1865, the same year the college was founded.


Soon after, college, high school, and prep classes and activities for men and women were added. This marked the start of Virginia Union University.


The National Theological Institute established separate sections in Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia, with classes commencing in 1867. In Washington, the institution was renamed Wayland Seminary in honor of Dr. Francis Wayland, former president of Brown University and a pioneer in the anti-slavery movement. Dr. George Mellen Prentiss King was Wayland’s first and only president, serving for thirty years (1867-1897). Dr. Booker T. Washington and Dr. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. were among its notable pupils.


The task was harder in Richmond. Colver Institute, a precursor to Virginia Union University, was located in Lumpkin’s Jail, a former “slave jail” owned by Mary Ann Lumpkin, the African-American widow of the white owner. Richmond Theological Institute (formerly Colver Institute) combined with Wayland Seminary of Washington to form Virginia Union University in 1899.


Hartshorn Memorial Institution, a women’s college founded in Richmond in 1883, became a part of Virginia Union University in 1932. Storer College, a historically black Baptist college in West Virginia founded in 1867, combined its endowment with Virginia Union in 1964.


Hakim Lucas is the current president. Lucas is suing his former employer, Bethune-Cookman University, over a dorm.


Virginia Union participates in the NCAA Division II Eastern Division of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The school features varsity teams in men’s basketball, football, cross country, golf, tennis, and track and field, as well as women’s basketball, bowling, cross country, tennis and track and field, softball, and volleyball.


Both Virginia Union University’s DII Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams won the CIAA Championship in 2018. Barco-Stevens Hall was the Belgian Building in 1939. 2005 NCAA News called the building one of 13 “unique” constructions. The university received the building in 1941 and moved it in 1943. The basketball team began utilizing the facilities in early 1947.

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