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RICHMOND COLLEGE, RICHMOND, VA.
By C. H. RYLAND, D. D., Secretary.
Richmond College belongs to that great family of American schools for higher education founded by the various religious denoidinations. In common with them it owes its origin and existence to the desire for a better educated ministry. The realm of its work is well detined by the charter which requires “that there be at or near the city of Richmond a seminary of learning for the instruction of youth in the various brauches of science and literature.”
The movement out of which the college grew originated in Richmond City on the 8th day of June, 1830. During a meeting of the general association of the Baptist denomination of the State a society was formed called the Virginia Baptist Educa tion Society, which at once began its work by aiding young men in private schools, conducted by Revs. Eli Ball and Edward Baptist. Two years later the society bought a farm near the city and opened the Virginia Baptist Seminary under the presidency of Rev. Robert Ryland, a graduate of Columbian College, Washington, D. C. The property was held by the society through trustees. The course of study embraced arithmetic, geography, grammar, algebra, geometry, natural and moral science, Latin, Greek, with theology as an optional study. The manual labor feature was engrafted upon the school, but was soon abandoned. In 1834 the farm was sold and the seminary moved to the present eligible and beautiful site of the college just within the western boundary of the city. Here the seminary continued its work until succeedeıl by Richmond College, which was chartered by the legislature of the State on the Ith day of March, 1810. The teaching force of the seminary through these years consisted of the president and two assistants. The course broadened as the years went by, and the number of students steadily increased. The first class to complete the course went out in 1836, and consisted of four young men, all of whom became prominent ministers of the gospel. The same year three of its best equipped undergraduates were discharged to become inissionaries in China, Siam, and Africa.
The date of the college charter and its provisions as to subjects to be taught have been given. The desire to advance the seminary into an incorporated institution arose from the wish to give greater permanence and security to the enterprise that had been so successfully cradled, as well as enlarge an give greater dignity to its work. In due time the transfer of property and all franchises was made by the education society, under certain conditions, to the college anthorities, and the subsequent honorable career of the growing institution began. When the seminary closed its work it had 3 teachers, 68 students, and valuable property.
In organizing the college the trustees retained Dr. Ryland at its head, but in a short time a fuller corps of teachers were associated with him; the standards of admission and of graduation were raised and classes formed for the B. A. degree.
The first class was graduated in 1819, and the same year the fetters of traditional methods were broken, and the curriculum abandoned for a system of classification in studies, which more fairly recognized the ability and attainments of the student. The new charter had discontinued theological instruction, and no effort has been made to revive it.
Marked prosperity attended the decade from 1851 to 1861. During these years a scheme of enlargement in every department was inaugurated. The endowment grew to the respectable proportions (for those days) of $80,000. Ampler buildings were provided. The attendance of students reached an enrollment of 161. In the domain of instruction it was provided that Latin and Greek should be divided and each given its separate professor. In 1859 it was decided that “a certificate of proficiency be given to a student who has satisfactorily completed the studies of any department." The degree of A. B. was conferred for “proficiency in the departments of Latin, Greek, mathematics, natural science and moral science, with the privilege of substituting one modern language or Hebrew for the Calculus.” The degree of A. M. was conferrei for “proficiency in the whole course except Hebrew."
A DISASTROUS PERIOD.
In 1861 came suspension. Richmond was a military camp. Inter arma silent leges. Silent also were the voices of science and literature. During the war period and extending to the close of the year 1865, there was fearful loss in every direction. The endowment became almost wholly worthless. The grounds and buildings were seriously injured, the apparatus was a wreck, and the excellent library was robbed of every volume. So that when the trustees assembled to confer as to what might be done, they found only desolated grounds, defaced buildings, and a ruined treasury.
A few brave and generous spirits threw themselves into the herculean task of reorganizing the college. Gradually the hopes of its friends were revived and it was determined to start afresh upon the work of rebuilding. Rev. Robert Ryland, D. D., who had presided over the institution from its origin, resigned, and a new faculty of young men of acknowledged ability was selected. The trustees, supported by the Baptists of the State, collected what money could be raised from an impoverished people, and used it in making the college home as comfortable as possible under the circumstances, and in providing for such equipment as was absolutely necessary. The first session opened in October, 1866, with the gratifying enrollment of 90 students, and a faculty of 5 accomplished men.
With the reorganization came conspicuous changes in the old order of things. Among these the following should be especially noticed: (1) The system of independent schools was established, with a diploma of graduation in each school; (2) the English language was put upon its proper plane as of equal dignity with Latin, Greek, French, or German; the “School of English ” was established and has been maintained from that time, with its separate professor; (3) discipline was put upon the high ground of honor and personal responsibility; (4) attendance upon religious services was made voluntary; (5) the “messing system”in boarding was inaugurated.
These changes in administration have proved to be salutary and have grown into the life of the college.
The past twenty years have witnessed vigorous growth. In 1870 a strong and effect. ive movement for increased endowment was begun. In 1873 a financial secretary was put in charge of the work of securing funds and preserving them by judicious investment. About the same time the main edifice, which was begun in 1855, was further improved. Cottage dormitories and boarding houses were added, and a more complete system of committee work in the several departments was inaugurated. At this writing the following statement will indicate the present status of the institution:
The property of the corporation consists of a beautiful campus of 124 acres, well sot in grass and trees, upon which stand an imposing main editice, the residences of
the professors, the cottage dormitories, the dining hall, anıl gymnasinm. The main building afforiis ample room for the chapel, lecture rooms, society halls, library, and museum. Here may be seen some of the handsoinest public rooms in the South. Upon the campns ample grounds are provided for students' sports. The entire premises are thoroughly drained and amply provided with all conveniences of gas, water, and sewerage. The property is without incumbrance of any sort.
The endowment has grown to $300,000 of interest-bearing funds. This belongs to various departments. Among these are two endowed schools, philosophy and law. Tle scholarships are separately endowed.
The library rests upon a foundation of its own. The public lectures stand upon an amplo fund, which is independent. The current expenso account has its own guaranteeil income. While the endowment is far short of the future requirements of a growing college, its past increase and security have been matters of constant congratulation and attest the fidelity and liberality of the friends of education.
The department of instruction embraces nine separate and distinct “schools,” Latin, Greek, English, modern languages, philosophy, matiematics, physics, chemistry, law. Each school has its separato professor, who is responsible to the trustees alone for its efficient conduct. There are entrance examinations, elective studies, intermediate and tinal examinations, four degrees. The standard of graduation is very high, based upon numerical valuation in examinations and class standing. Eighty per centum is required before graduation is allowed.
The library, so ruthlessly destroyed at the close of the war, has 12,000 volumes. It is provided for in the Jeter Memorial Hall, a spacious apartinent well adapted to its work, and is so conducted, without charge to the student, that it provides the highest inducements to literary and scientific research. Liberal provision is made to secure to professors and students the latest and best works in every department. To the library a well equipped reading room is attached. The collego is building a museum of attractiveness, interest, and value. An elegant hall, named for the late James Thomas, jr., awaits its successful mounting. Paintings, statuary, and valuab especimens on lines of ethnology, paleontology, geology, and mineralogy are displayed.
Tho college has for many years maintained, among other lectures, a course on Biblical themes. This is perhaps the first college in the South to introduce the systematic study of the Bible.
To a vigorous course of lectures delivered each session by the professors of the collego along the line of university extension, and open to the public, there is an annual course of public lectures provided for under a special endowment known as “ The James Thomas Museum Lectures.” This is a course of rare interest. The conditions provide that the ablest men in our own and foreign countries shall be secured and that the public shall have the privilege of enjoying them. Tho subjects embraced are science, art, philosophy, and literature.
The Geographical and llistorical Society was founded in 1891 for the purpose of research. It has a growing membership of professors and students and its issues are valuable. By authority of the trustees there has been established under the auspices of this society a day to be known as “Historical Day," devoted to excursions to places of historic interest.
Two literary societies, with a joint monthly magazine, are maintained. These are devoted to the cultivation of the art of speaking and writing. A generous rivalry exists, which is further stimulated by medals and public exhibitions.
l'hysical culture receives due attention. Regular gymnasium training and drill are sistematically pursued. Encouragement is given to field sports, to which honors are attached. These are a warded on the regular field day exhibition.
THE STUDENT BODY.
The highest attendance ever reached during a single session is 207. Of the annual matriculates Virginia contributes the far larger share, larger than to any other college in the State, but other States and other countries contributo a goodly quota. The average age is 19 years. The conduct of the students is marked by a high degreo