Historical photo of doctors and nurses standing around patient in surgical theater

Since 1838, our past has made us who we are — diverse, engaged and ambitious.

Mission and history

Official VCU mission: Why we’re here

As the premier urban, public research university in the state, Virginia Commonwealth University’s mission is to advance knowledge and student success through its commitments to:

  • An engaged, learner-centered environment that fosters inquiry, discovery and innovation in a global setting
  • Research that expands the boundaries of new knowledge and creative expression and promotes translational applications to improve human health
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations that bring new perspectives to complex problems and mobilize creative energies that advance innovation and solve global challenges
  • Health care that strives to preserve and restore health for all people, to seek the cause and cure of diseases through groundbreaking research and to educate those who serve humanity
  • Diversity that provides a climate of inclusion, a dedication to addressing disparities wherever they exist and an opportunity to explore and create in an environment of trust
  • Sustainable university-community partnerships that enhance the educational, economic and cultural vitality of the communities VCU serves in Virginia and around the world


Strategic plan

Learn about Quest 2025: Together We Transform, VCU’s strategic plan.

Values: What we hold dear

History: How we came to be

Way back — we’re talking more than 175 years ago — in 1838, VCU was known by another name. We were the Medical College of Hampden-Sydney, later becoming the Medical College of Virginia. It wasn’t until 1968, when we merged with Richmond Professional Institute, that we were given the name Virginia Commonwealth University. But one thing is for sure: We have never stopped making history.

Graphic showing Rodney the Ram and text that says We Were the 1st
  • Historical photo of group of female social work students posing in front of statue

    The first school of social work in the South

  • Historical photo of organ transplant doctors looking at X-rays

    First organ transplants in Virginia

  • Two women in hijabs looking at computer

    First American campus in Qatar

  • Exterior of VCU Rice Rivers Center

    First LEED Platinum building in Virginia

  • Two researchers examining liquids of different colors

    First university in Virginia to receive major National Institutes of Health grant to support translational research

  • Men’s basketball team holding up trophy

    Only men’s basketball team to go from First Four to Final Four