We hope everyone is doing well as we start a new year. Here at Universities Studying Slavery headquarters, we are endeavoring to catch up with some unfinished business from 2021. In late November, Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, became the seventeenth school in the state of Virginia to join our growing movement of schools coming to terms with slavery and racism in institutional pasts. We are excited to share that news with you now in early 2022. Please welcome Randolph-Macon College to Universities Studying Slavery (USS).
Established in 1830 in Boydton, Virginia, by Methodists, Randolph-Macon College educated white men in the liberal arts and provided pathways for their personal and professional development. In the postbellum period, the College moved to its current location in Ashland, Virginia, began accepting Black men in 1966, and became a co-educational institution in 1971.
Although the College made significant strides towards inclusion and diversity in the twentieth century, recent national conversations on race and resulting initiatives across institutions of higher learning highlighted the need for more intentional, systemic, and systematic engagement with those issues.
In October 2020, President Robert Lindgren formed the Racial Equity and Opportunity Commission (REOC). The Commission initiated a year-long inquiry into the history of the College, its campus climate, and its student, faculty, and staff recruitment, hiring, and retention practices, as well as opportunities for improvement. The Commission’s work culminated in a set of comprehensive recommendations as well as a thorough account of the institution’s dependence on and benefit from the labor of enslaved people in the antebellum era. Interested in learning more about Randolph-Macon College’s work to date? President Lindgren’s letter accepting the report and recommendations of the Commission can be found here.
As in many institutions across the country, the College’s history affirmed its institutional connections to slavery. Randolph-Macon College’s work to consider and address the implications of these connections will be ongoing, and its community looks forward to learning from the research, scholarship, and the racial justice initiatives at participating institutions in the Universities Studying Slavery consortium.