Virginia State University in Ettrick. (NBC12)
A group representing Northern Virginia municipalities wants to bring a historically Black university to the region through a satellite campus.
Representatives from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission – which includes 13 local governments such as Alexandria, Fairfax and Prince William – have met with administrators at Norfolk State University and Virginia State University who demonstrated interest in building a location in Northern Virginia, chair of the commission Cydny Neville said.
Currently, Virginia Union University is the northernmost historically Black university in the commonwealth. While the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech have satellite campuses in northern Virginia, Neville–a VSU alumna–says there is a need for a Black institution for the more than 405,000 students in the area who did not finish college or have an associate’s degree..
“It’s not even just the institution itself,” Neville said. “It’s its presence and how that uplifts the community around it, and Northern Virginia will be better off with it. Northern Virginia is great, but having an HBCU presence is something that we need.”
The commission is working to find potential locations for the satellite campus. So far, the location has been focused on Alexandria and Falls Church, Neville said. She also hopes that the campus would offer degree completion, STEM and agriculture programs, she said. The proximity to Washington D.C. would also help cultivate a political science program, Neville said.
VSU leadership will host a meeting on April 4 with NSU officials and the commission to explore the possibility of a joint campus, said Gwen Williams Dandridge, assistant vice president for communications at VSU.
“There are several things you can find in an HBCU that you can’t find at your PWIs [predominately White institutions] or other universities,” Neville said. “That sense of home. Everyone I went to school with at Virginia State University, that’s my second family.”
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