Virginia State University Awards Its First Doctoral Degree

In 1882 the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute was founded in Petersburg as a coeducational state-operated school for Negroes. It awarded its first bachelor’s degree in 1889. In 1902, at a time when Booker T. Washington was putting his bet on Negro industrial education, the college curriculum was suspended and the name of the institution was changed to the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute. It was not until 1923 that college-level courses were restored. In 1930 the institution was renamed the Virginia State College for Negroes. It assumed university status in 1979 when it offered its first master’s degree program.

Earlier this month the university awarded its first doctoral degree. Michelle Belle, director of human resources for the Cumberland County school system, received a doctorate in educational administration and supervision.