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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Origins of Virginia Commonwealth University

Unlike other Virginia educational institutions, Virginia Commonwealth University began with an emphasis on urban issues. Dabney resigned shortly after blacks labeled him too conservative. He admits that the stress of position was the primary reason for his resignation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DANIEL JORDAN:
Was there any question about what the position of VCU was to be and how it might be different from other institutions in the state?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, that was a good question because there is a different mission and it was emphasized in the Wayne report recommending such an institution. The recommendation was that it be urban oriented above everything, that it would try to solve urban problems, peculiarly problems that arise in urban communities, and that are not typical of problems that confront most institutions. So, from that time forward, VCU has tried hard to address those problems.
DANIEL JORDAN:
I know that your work with VCU was a great ordeal, as you have indicated, but also it was a great contribution. Yet, I believe there was a sort of unpleasant ending to your service. Did a small number of blacks object to your being involved with the university?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes, there was a sudden outburst from a small group of blacks who said I was too conservative, and that wanted a new rector. I didn't do anything. The governor publicly expressed the confident hope that I would remain, and I replied that I certainly would fill out my term. I had already decided that I could not continue as rector much longer on account of the strain involved, which had halfway undermined my health. I had told some of my associates on the board that I was going to get out as rector. When this thing broke, I felt that I couldn't get out right away. So, I waited three more months and then retired as rector but remained on the board.