Virginia Union University Celebrates Historic Opinion by Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares on HBCU Funding

March 04, 2022

[RICHMOND, VA – March 1, 2022] – On Monday, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares released his official opinion announcing that "the state has the ability to fund both public and private HBCUs in Virginia.”  

“This is a significant moment in time for HBCUs,” said Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, President and CEO of Virginia Union University. “While Virginia Union is recognized as a private institution by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), we are a public-serving HBCU in Richmond, Virginia. Our community partnerships speak directly to our strategic vision of serving the underserved. We are here to show our community that there are limitless possibilities for them.” 

In a concurrent announcement, the Office of the Attorney General stated that while the Virginia Constitution prohibits state funding to private colleges and universities, “Attorney General Miyares clarifies in the opinion that the Constitution and Virginia code does provide several exceptions that permit the General Assembly to provide funding to the private HBCUs in several ways. The opinion clarifies that the state government can fund private HBCUs through the Tuition Assistance Grant (TAG) program for individual students, procured public contracts for the university, and Virginia College Building Authority loans for the university.” 

Virginia Union University, three years ago, through strategic planning, networking, and partnerships, began its plans to create the Center for African American History and Culture (CAAHC). It was this decision and request for funding support from the Commonwealth of Virginia that led to continued efforts to increase funding for HBCUs. With the help of former Virginia Delegate and Richmond City Mayor, Dwight C. Jones and Delegate Luke Torian, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, the Commonwealth of Virginia awarded the university a $1 million grant to aid in the launch of the CAAHC.  

This led to a strategic legislative partnership being formed with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC), with supporting members and VUU alumni such as Delegate Delores McQuinn, whose work with budget amendments supported HBCUs, Delegate Lamont Bagby, Delegate Luke Torian, and Delegate Nadarius Clark. 

“We are grateful for the support of lawmakers who see the significance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities,” said Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Chairman of Virginia Union University’s Board of Trustees. “Increased funding is significant for HBCUs as it allows us to continue serving our community by bridging educational gaps. The youth in our community have so much to offer, and we can be the gateway to better opportunities and a brighter future for them.” 

Former Governor, L. Douglas Wilder, who has been a longstanding supporter of HBCUs, has personally advocated for Virginia Union University directly to Attorney General Miyares.  

Altogether, these legislative partnerships culminated at Virginia Union’s Inaugural Legislative Day, the first event of its kind held by an HBCU. Students and other university delegates went to the state capitol to meet one-on-one with lawmakers to share the impact of the university and show the significance of the university as a “public-serving” HBCU in Richmond, Virginia.  

To read the entire opinion, click on AG Jason Miyares Opinion on HBCUs in Virginia