Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Administrative Efforts

"Letter from Thomas N. Pollard, Jr. to C.J. Gray"

Letter from Austin E. Grigg to Allix B. James

"Letter from Austin E. Grigg to Allix B. James"

Letters of Outreach from University

In the fall of 1970, the Director of Admissions, Thomas N. Pollard, Jr. wrote to the Dean of Administrative Services, C.J. Gray, letting Gray know that he had sent out a letter regarding admissions to 38 black students and one white student who participated in the Ford Foundation’s Project Access College Entrance Examination during the 1969-70 session. Pollard describes it is part of an outreach program to open the doors of higher education to minority students from less privileged backgrounds. This outreach program was in response to the original letter regarding the university’s compliance with the 1964 Civil Rights Act from Eloise Severinson, the Regional Civil Rights Director of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) to President George M. Modlin of the University of Richmond. Through its investigation, HEW felt as though the University could use some suggestions on how to further implement the goals of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.Dr. Severinson then lists her recommendations, which included informing the black community in Richmond and the state of Virginia that they have an equal education opportunity policy. Dr. Severinson then goes on to write that HEW “[expects] to make a routine contact with the University of Richmond in approximately one year” and request to see records of predominantly black high schools contacted by the University, records of black student groups invited to tour the University, and records that black athletes were contacted and interviewed.

The programs instituted by the University following these letters made it seem like President Modlin was following Severinson's instructions, but with further investigation these efforts appear minimal at best. In recognizing that the student body of the University at that time was a little under 2,000 students and they only reached out to 38 students of color it follows that they were only aiming to have at a maximum two percent of the student body made up of minority students. That two percent estimate is assuming that all 38 students responded, applied, and were accepted. In the letter, Pollard asks Gray to document the carbon copy as proof of the outreach program, asserting that this would be good evidence of the Universities compliance.

During the Spring of 1971 Austin E. Grigg, Dean of the University of Richmond, sent out several letters to administrators and presidents of historically black universities. In these letters Grigg asked to begin an exchange program between these historically black colleges and the University of Richmond. Grigg offered to allow several students free admission to Richmond with the caveat that there not be too many students attending. Grigg attaches a note to each letter stating that “no takers” had asked to participate in the program. In this second letter, Grigg later writes to University President George Modlin that despite their lack of success these previous letters would serve as ample evidence that U of R was complying with federal regulations. This is a prime example of the university being more focused on appearing to integrate rather than actually integrating.


Advertisement "University College University of Richmond"

"Advertisement in the Richmond Afro-American"

Other Forms of Outreach

Additionally, in the fall of 1968, the University posted an advertisment, among other attempts at outreach, in the local Richmond Afro-American newspaper. At the outset, it looks as though Richmond was presenting a great ad, listing the myriad of classes offered in many different subject areas. But, through further investigation, at the top of the advertisment, the heading that overarches all of the classes listed in the advertisement states that all of the classes are night classes at University College, a downtown division of the University opened in 1962. It seems as though the administration was not asking minority students to join the student body on campus, but rather to be only slightly involved while the University benefits from the total number. This is a prime example of how the administrators, in charge of marketing or outreach, wanted to increase its total minority student numbers by enrolling them in night classes, while still not having to integrate the daily main campus student body. 

Administrative Efforts