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In 1961, The College of William and Mary opened a two-year branch campus in Southside Virginia. The first class consisted of 165 students who were met by 9 faculty members. In October, a thriving Richard Bland College will celebrate its 50th anniversary of service to students and community.
Two days of celebration were planned to commemorate Richard Bland College's 50th anniversary, with festivities slated for October 20th and 21st. Thursday consisted of activities for students and faculty from 12:00-2:00 on the football field. Attendees viewed a slide show depicting the college's history and enjoyed a free picnic lunch. Students and employees were also invited to enter teams in a three-on-three basketball tournament, a sand volleyball tournament, and a round-robin tennis tournament. The highlight of the day was the long awaited unveiling of the college mascot - The Statesman Eagle. Friday evening featured a more formal banquet by invitation and included our board members and other friends of the college.
In the early years of the college, all classes and administrative offices were on the Prince George side of campus. The building that we now know as Humanities and Social Sciences housed classrooms, a bookstore, the cafeteria, and the library. At that time, The Barn functioned as the school gymnasium, while the building that is now the Center for Student Affairs was the home of studios and art classes. Maze Hall housed the chemistry and biology departments.
We have come a long way from those days. Over the years we expanded to include what we now know as our gym and library and Ernst Hall, helping our college grow exponentially. Ernst Hall opened in 1968, followed by the Student Commons in 1969 and Statesman Hall in 1973. The most notable recent additions are McNeer Hall, the recreational complex, and the residence halls, all of which are located in Dinwiddie County. Today the college serves 1640 students who are taught by thirty-three full-time and twenty-five part-time faculty members. One of the greatest changes to our college has been the integration of technology into the learning environment, taking our college to the next level.
Our current president, Dr. McNeer, and our vice president, Dr. Whitaker, see the college as a major asset to the community, giving students an opportunity to earn an associate degree before transferring to a four-year college or university. They have seen generations of students and their parents who have graduated and become productive members of society.
Over the years many students have returned as faculty members; Dr. Binger, our Provost, and Randy Dean, the Director of Student Affairs were former students here.
Dr. Whitaker reflects, "RBC's selection as the Best of The Tri-Cities 2011 - Higher Education is evidence of the College's reputation in the communities we serve. College alumni play an important role in our community as doctors, dentists, lawyers, teachers, and business men and women. Likewise, alumni hold important positions at the College as Provost, Vice President, Doctor, Human Resource Director, Facilities Director, Faculty and many more. This wonderful institution has been the first step in the successful careers of our graduates and continues to be a place of opportunity for students throughout the Commonwealth. It is my hope we never lose the personal touch which prevails on our campus."
Dr. McNeer, who will be retiring in June after serving the college in various capacities for 44 of our 50 years, adds that he has never regretted dedicating his career to RBC, and that he sees the college as a valuable part of Virginia's system of higher education.
Click here to view the original article in the Bon Homme Richard Newspaper