Virginia Commonwealth University

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Virginia Commonwealth University seal.

Established 1968
Founder unknown
School type Public University
President Eugene P. Trani
Location Richmond, Virginia
Enrollment 16,504 undergraduate,
  4,593 graduate
Faculty 1,656 full time, 6,971 classified.
Annual Budget US $1.5 billion
Campus Urban, Monroe Park (academic) Campus - 78 acres (31.6 ha), MCV (medical) Campus - 52 acres (21.0 ha).
Mascot animal the Ram
Website [1] (|

Virginia Commonwealth University, or VCU, is a large American research university with its main campuses located in downtown Richmond, Virginia. Particularly recognized for its nationally ranked art, social work, and medical degree programs, VCU is the third-largest university in Virginia with more than 27,000 students at the beginning of 2004.

Formed by a merger with the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in 1968, VCU is home to a renowned medical school that is home to the nation’s oldest organ transplant program. VCU is also known for its diversity, with the highest percentage of minority students among Virginia public universities, and is host to the annual VCU French Film Festival, the largest French film festival in the United States.



Though officially created with the merger of the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) and Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in 1968, VCU's history stretches back to 1838, when MCV first opened its doors as the medical department of Hampden-Sydney College. VCU recognizes the latter date on its official seal and promotional materials. RPI traces its roots back to 1917, when it began as the Richmond School of Social Work.


  • 1838 - The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College opens in Richmond
  • 1844 - The Medical Department moves into its first permanent home, the Egyptian Building
  • 1854 - The Medical Department of Hampden-Sydney College receives an independent charter from the Virginia General Assembly and becomes the Medical College of Virginia (MCV)
  • 1860 - In return for a $30,000 appropriation MCV conveys all its property to the Commonwealth of Virginia and becomes a state institution
  • 1893 - College of Physicians and Surgeons, later University College of Medicine, was established by Dr. Hunter Holmes McGuire just three blocks away from MCV
  • 1912 - McGuire Hall opens as the new home of the University College of Medicine
  • 1913 - MCV and UCM merged through the efforts of Dr. George Ben Johnston and Dr. Stuart McGuire. MCV acquired the Memorial Hospital as a result of the merger
  • 1917 - Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health established
  • 1925 - Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health becomes the Richmond division of the College of William and Mary
  • 1939 - Richmond division of William and Mary becomes the "Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary" (RPI)
  • 1947 - MCV Foundation is incorporated.
  • 1962 - RPI separates from William and Mary to become an independent state institution.
  • 1968 - The first heart transplant at the Medical College of Virginia is performed by Dr. Richard R. Lower. This was only the 9th such operation performed in the United States, and the 16th in the world.
  • 1968 - State legislation merges MCV and RPI to become Virginia Commonwealth University.
  • 2000 - VCU Health System Authority is established


Degrees offered

Programs and schools

Notable faculty members include analytical chemist Dr. John Fenn, who in 2002 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions to the field of mass spectrometry.

In addition to other programs, VCU now hosts the Illustration Academy, a program taught by nationally known illustrators. The program is open to all applicants, from students to professionals, and features demonstrations from the artists, classes, and lectures on the business side of the industry.


More recently the university has focused on what it calls life sciences as an avenue of future expansion, with the 2001 opening of the Lois E. and Eugene P. Trani Life Sciences Building. Construction is expected to begin in 2005 on a Monroe Park Campus Extension, which will include the second phase of the School of Engineering building and a new home for the School of Business, along with residential and retail development.

The university has expanded rapidly in recent years, with construction focused mainly along the Broad Street corridor. The school is approximately 70 percent commuter and 30 percent on-campus resident, with new residence halls "RAMZ Hall" and Brandt Hall opening in August 2005. A new dining center and fourth phase construction of the University Student Commons were completed in 2005 as well. The Ackell Residence Center (formerly known as West Broad Street Student Apartments) was opened in 2001 across the street from a parking deck, bookstore and welcome center that was completed in 1998. 1998 also saw the opening of a new School of the Arts Building, also on Broad Street.

West Grace Street Student Housing is home to the University Honors Program and freshman honors housing with single one-person rooms. Formerly the Capital Medical Center, the university purchased and converted the building in 1998. The building is also home to the VCU OccuHealth Alliance, part of the VCU Health System.

Growing pains

VCU has also seen a significant growth in student enrollment over the past few years, with each successive freshman class being the largest in the university's history. Because the university offers such a wide variety of degrees with relatively sparse classroom space, some have complained that there are not enough course offerings to meet demand, and an increase in faculty has yet to catch up with increased student enrollment. Students are regularly forced to seek overrides to enroll in classes and search for the few openings that become available on the university's electronic enrollment system. Also, especially in upper division offerings, some classes are offered on a rotating basis by semester, sometimes forcing students to take longer than the normal four years to complete their degree.


As a result of its merger with the Medical College of Virginia Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in 1968, VCU has two main campuses in Richmond: the Monroe Park Campus and the MCV Campus. VCU also has a branch campus for its nationally ranked School of the Arts in Education City, Qatar. Informally, the campuses are known respectively as the "academic campus," "medical campus," and "VCU-Qatar."

Monroe Park Campus

Home to most of VCU's general education facilities, the Monroe Park Campus is located at the eastern end of "The Fan district", a historic neighborhood built adjacent to downtown Richmond in the early 20th century. The Monroe Park Campus begins at Monroe Park on North Belvidere Street and continues west to Harrison Street. Most buildings are located on or between West Broad Street and West Main Street. Originally home to the Richmond Professional Institute and then the Academic Campus of VCU in 1968, the Monroe Park Campus took on its current name in June of 2004.

Notable buildings

  • University Student Commons
  • James Branch Cabell Library
  • T. Edward Temple Building - General academics, mass communications
  • School of Business
  • Oliver Hall - School of Education
  • School of the Arts
  • Hibbs Building - College of Humanities & Sciences
  • Shafer Court Dining Center
  • Pollak Building - School of the Arts

MCV Campus

The MCV Campus is home to the VCU School of Medicine, most of the VCU Health System, the Massey Cancer Center and MCV Hospitals. Known as the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) before 1968, the campus and its hospitals continue to be known informally by Richmond locals as "MCV," though the name was officially changed to VCU Medical Center in 2004. The MCV Campus is an integral part of Richmond, located adjacent to the city’s business and financial district near the state capitol.

Notable Buildings

  • Main hospital
  • Gateway Building
  • Sanger Hall
  • Tompkins-McCaw Library
  • Larrick Dining Center

External links


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