Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Segregation & Alumni Influence

'Segregation and Alumni Influence' presents documents from the George Modlin Segregation Folder that display alumni power and influence at the University of Richmond regarding change being made. Alumni at the University were often major sources of the donations. Because of this, the school would not often make changes without consulting them. 

Item #435, A Report of the Committee to Study Segregation in the Graduate and Professional Schools of the University of Richmond

In the first document, item #435, a report was written to evaluate the need for the University of Richmond to integrate. The committee in charge of making the final decision decided that the school would continue to be segregated because of its long history of segregation as well as the lack of pressure that there had been to make a change. The report specifically mentioned that alumni, friends, and the Baptist General Association of Virginia had not agreed to desegregate. Because the University relied on these groups for monetary donations the committee did not want to make a change that could upset this. This document is one of the only in the George Modlin collection that shows alumni being influential in maintaining segregation, even though we are aware that there were alumni on both sides. In the remaining two correspondences, alumni explain their discontent with the school because it had not yet desegregated.

Item #437, Letter from George G. Iggers to Ryland O. Reamy and Replies

Starting with item #437, there are correspondences from alumni in response to calls from the Alumni Fund for donations in 1963. George Iggers was one of the alumni to respond with a letter stating,“I have felt for many years that I could not contribute to an institution which at this late stage does not admit qualified students regardless of race.” The staff who received his response forwarded the message to President George Modlin because they were getting many responses from alumni that wanted to see this change in admittance of students regardless of race. Many alumni were described as wanting to find "the Christian solution" to segregation policies.

Item #432, All Saints Episcopal Church

Finally, in item #432, Raymond E. Abbitt also refuses to pay alumni dues because he believes "that if the institutions of higher learning cannot be leaders in the democratic and Christian ways of life in the United States then I see very little hope for our nation.”  This letter further illustrates shifting attitudes of some alumni towards the issue of segregation. In particular, this letter could indicate potential financial repercussions and loss of support from religious communities as a result of the University of Richmond’s failure to integrate. 

Overall, we found that in the George Modlin documents there were many more alumni pushing for the desegregation of the University of Richmond and fewerexerting pressure to maintain the University as it was. We know that even though there were not documents in this folder stating this that there were definitely groups on both sides. It was important for the school to integrate before it faced even bigger consequences for being "behind the times."

 

 Click the images below to view the documents in their entirety.

Segregation & Alumni Influence