The Virginia Seminary and College was organized in May 1886, during the 19th annual session
of the Virginia Baptist State Convention at the First Baptist Church at Lexington, Virginia. The
Reverend P.F. Morris, the pastor of the Court Street Baptist Church of Lynchburg, Virginia,
offered the resolution that authorized the establishment of the institution. A preliminary meeting
perfecting the plans to organize the school and locate it at Lynchburg, Virginia, was held in
July 1886. At this meeting, Lawyer James H. Hayes of Richmond was appointed to obtain a
charter for the school. The plans drawn up in the preliminary meeting were ratified in the 20th
annual session of the Convention held at High Street Baptist Church at Danville, Virginia, in
May 1887. The next annual session of the Virginia Baptist State Convention was held at Court
Street Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, the Reverend P.F. Morris, Pastor, in 1888. At this
session of the Convention, the location of the school in Lynchburg, the plans and specifications
of the first brick building, the letting of the contract for the erection of the building and the
charter were approved. The cornerstone of this building was laid in July 1888.
According to the charter, the school was first known by the name of the Lynchburg Baptist
Seminary. A temporary weather-board building was erected in 1889. The Seminary was opened
by Professor R. P. Armstead, January 18, 1890, with an enrollment of thirty-three students.
By Charter amendments, the school’s name has been changed five times: first, from Lynchburg
Baptist Seminary to Virginia Seminary, February 4, 1890; second, from Virginia Seminary to
Virginia Theological Seminary and College, June 5, 1900; from Virginia Theological Seminary
and College to Virginia Seminary and College, May 15, 1962; and from Virginia Theological
Seminary and College to Virginia College-Virginia Seminary, 1967 and finally to Virginia
University of Lynchburg, 1996.
Virginia University of Lynchburg has had sixteen presidents. The first president of Virginia
University of Lynchburg was the Reverend P.F. Morris (1888-1890). Professor G. W. Hayes,
the second president (1890- 1906), gave to the institution its philosophy of “SELF-HELP,”
and during his administration, Hayes Hall was built. During the administration of Dr. R.C.
Woods, a former student of Professor Hayes, the school enjoyed its greatest period of
expansion: Fox Hall, Graham Hall, and Humbles Hall were erected; several lots and cottages
were purchased, capable and efficient faculties were employed, and a capacity student body of
six hundred was enrolled.
The College has grown from a small frame building to a plant that could not be replaced today
for 30 million dollars. The plant, its management, and the responsibility of financing it reveals
the potential mental, moral, and spiritual resources of the institution’s DO-FOR-THYSELF
During the past 128 years, the University has had sixteen presidents, eleven of whom were
graduates of the University, namely: Robert C. Wood, William H.R. Powell, Vernon N. Johns,
Madison C. Allen, McCarthy C. Southerland, Benjamin W. Robertson, Leroy Fitts, Melvin R.
Boone, Thomas E. Parker, Elisha G. Hall, and Ralph Reavis.
Presidents of Virginia University of Lynchburg
Philip F. Morris, B.A., B.D., M.A., D.D., 1888-1890
Gregory W. Hayes, A.B., MA., 1891-1906
Mrs. Mary Hayes, A.B., 1906-1908
J.R.L. Diggs, A.B., M.A., Ph.D., 1908-1911
R.C. Woods, B.A., A.M., D.D., 1911-1926
W.H.R. Powell, A.B., B.D., D.D., 1926-1929
Vernon Johns, A.B., B.D., D.D., 1929-1934
W.H.R. Powell, A.B., B.D., D.D., 1934-1946
M.C. Allen, A.B., M.A., B.D., D.D., 1946-1966
MacCarthy C. Sutherland, A.B., S.T.B., M.A., D.D., 1966-1980
Benjamin W. Robertson, A.B., B.Th., M.Div., D.Min., D.D., 1980
Leroy Fitts, A.B., M.Div., D.D., 1980-1981
Thomas E. Parker, B.Th., D.D., 1982-1987
Melvin R. Boone, A.B., M.Div., D.D., 1988-1990
Ada M. Palmer, A.B., M.A., L.H.D., 1990-1992
Elisha G. Hall, A.B., M.A., M.Div., D.D., 1992-1999
Ralph Reavis, A.B., B.D., M.Div., S.T.M., Ph.D., L.H.D., 2000-2015
Dr. Kathy Franklin, B.S, M.Ed., L.H.D., Ph.D., 2015 – Present