September 14, 2020


The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University, in partnership with Virginia Union University, will host a daylong virtual leadership symposium on Sept. 17 honoring the legacy of L. Douglas Wilder, the 66th governor of Virginia and the country’s first elected African American governor. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Wilder’s inauguration.

The virtual symposium, which is free of charge to attend, will feature lectures, panel discussions and a keynote address by Wilder. A morning panel on judicial and legislative history will be moderated by James Dyke, who served as the Secretary of Education in Governor Wilder’s administration and will include Chief Judge Roger Gregory, 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.  A panel of VCU and VUU students will discuss the importance of civic engagement and a panel examining the 2020 election will be moderated by Larry Sabato, Ph.D., political analyst and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  Additional details and registration is available at Wilder30.com.

“We are excited to create this daylong celebration of the impact of Governor Wilder’s election, the accomplishments of his administration, and the continuation of his legacy,” said Susan T. Gooden, Ph.D., dean of the Wilder School.  “The virtual format is allowing people from across the Commonwealth – and across the country – to participate.” 

“Governor Wilder is a treasured alumnus of Virginia Union University and we are proud to help celebrate this shining moment in history,” said Hakim Lucas, Ph.D., president and CEO of Virginia Union University.

The community, students and faculty are invited to attend the virtual symposium. To learn more about the event and to register, please go to www.Wilder30.com

More about L. Douglas Wilder: 

L. Douglas Wilder was the 66th governor of Virginia and is a distinguished professor at the school that bears his name. A native of Richmond's historic Church Hill district, Wilder served as the commonwealth's chief executive officer from 1990 to 1994, and is the first African American to serve as governor of a U.S. state since Reconstruction, and the first elected African American governor. Wilder graduated from Virginia Union University and served in the United States Army during the Korean War, where he earned a Bronze Star for heroism in ground combat. After the war, he attended Howard University School of Law, establishing a legal practice in Richmond shortly thereafter. He won election to the Virginia Senate in 1969 as a member of the Democratic Party and served five terms before taking office as the lieutenant governor of Virginia, becoming the first African American to hold statewide office in the commonwealth. Wilder’s historic success in the 1989 Virginia gubernatorial election made him a major and immediate influence in the U.S. political arena. He was commended for his sound fiscal management and balancing the state budget during difficult economic times. For two consecutive years under Wilder’s administration, Virginia was ranked as the best-managed state in the U.S. by Financial World magazine.

Wilder returned to elective office in 2005, when he became the first directly elected mayor of Richmond in over a half century, winning every precinct. Since leaving office in 2009, he has worked as a distinguished professor at the Wilder School where he lectures and hosts symposia, including the most recent, "Race in Academia." He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NAACP’s prestigious Spingarn Medal, has been awarded 34 honorary degrees and citations of the highest order, e.g. Veterans of Foreign Wars, life member of several government and public service organizations, the author of “Son of Virginia: A Life in America’s Political Arena,” and a spokesperson on current issues – national, state and local.


About the VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs
Ranked No. 45 among 275 graduate schools of public affairs by U.S. News & World Report and No. 39 in Public Management & Leadership, the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University advances excellence in governance and promotes evidence-based public policy in Virginia and beyond. The school offers an array of graduate, post baccalaureate and doctoral programs in virtually every policy area including criminal justice, homeland security and emergency preparedness, public administration, public policy and administration, and urban and regional studies and planning. Additionally, the Wilder School is home to a robust Center for Public Policy that provides applied research in the areas of state and local government, social equity and leadership and a range of services to clients in state and local government, nonprofit organizations, businesses and the general public. Learn more at wilder.vcu.edu.

About Virginia Union University
Virginia Union University is a premier liberal arts urban institution of higher education and center of excellence for the preparation of students and the development of leaders for tomorrow’s world. It was founded in 1865 to give newly emancipated slaves an opportunity for education and advancement. Virginia Union University offers a broad range of educational opportunities that advance liberal arts education, teaching, research, science, technology, continuing education, civic engagement and international experiences. Visit https://www.vuu.edu/ for more information.