The HBCU Endowment Feature – Virginia Union University


School Name: Virginia Union University

Median Cost of Attendance: $26 522

Undergraduate Population: 1 333

Endowment Needed: $707 065 760

Analysis: Virginia Union University needs approximately $708 million for all of its undergraduate students to attend debt free. The school located in Richmond, VA faces some very unique geographic challenges. It is located in the shadows of the Virginia Commonwealth University, the state’s largest public university, and the University of Richmond, one of its wealthiest private universities, so Virginia Union has very limited space for expansion. Its location though is located in prime real estate and very much in the heart of some of Richmond’s African American areas. It has as alumni former Governor Douglas Wilder whose presence it seems has been something of a gift and curse for the school. The school has not reaped the economic rewards of the association one would expect but still boast one of the healthier HBCU endowments ($30 million) for its student body size. The school’s alumni is passionate though and being located in the state’s capital and largest city is always a plus for any higher education institution to garner influence and financial support. It is also the home of the bank that Madam CJ Walker helped found so there is an opportunity to build support from many of the African American businesses present in the area from Richmond to Northern Virginia where many alum head after graduation. The school also boast a proud athletic tradition which keeps many alums socially connected to the university. At just 1 300 students though it must find a way to double in size despite its limited ability to spread out. If it accomplishes such a feat it could find itself quickly making a push for the $75 million range within a decade. Hopefully it can find a way to leverage more of its prominent relationships and increase its profile. It lays with a mixed bag geographically being both a gift and curse because of the competing higher education institutions its surrounded by. A mistake would be for it to be passive in such an environment not go on the offensive to establish a sound footing in the city and up I-95 towards Northern Virginia. By doing so it can be a small school with a very big stick.

As always it should be noted that endowments provide a myriad of subsidies to the university for everything from scholarship, faculty & administration salaries, research, and much more.

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