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University president: Virignia Union students face high expectations
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Dr. Claude Perkins addresses the Citizens Appreciation Luncheon on Friday.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Community service and high expectations are required of students at Virginia Union University in Richmond, its president said here Friday.

Dr. Claude Perkins spoke at the annual Citizens Appreciation Luncheon on Friday at Morning Star Holy Church.

About 40 people attended the luncheon, including area pastors, school leaders, Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins, and Milton Kendall, Iriswood District representative on the Henry County Board of Supervisors.

Perkins stressed the importance of developing youth and letting them know what is expected of them.

At Virginia Union, founded in 1865 and one of the historically black colleges in the country, students are expected to help others, he said. “We want our students to make a difference,” he added.

Students at Virginia Union are required to do community service because Perkins and the college administration feel that while students are in their developmental stage, it is important that they understand the human condition, he said.

If a student is going to “be a leader and they have no sensitivity to the human condition, then how can you lead?” Perkins said.

“Citizenship and being engaged is part of our DNA,” Perkins said.

Also, students are held to standards of behavior and “discipline is required,” he said, adding that one standard is that there are no co-ed dorms on campus.

Virginia Union has added to the economic vitality of Richmond, he said, calling education the steam for driving an economy. “Everybody depends on it (education)” and a community’s population needs to be educated, he added.

Young people need to be encouraged that they have something to contribute to society, he said. He remembers when he was in college being told that “‘you can be anything you want to be,’” which motivated him throughout his college career and beyond.

The church, education and political communities of the area need to collaborate to bring their strengths together, he said.

The key is to not let insignificant things get in the way of striving for the betterment of the area, such as worrying whether someone is black, white, Baptist or in a sorority, he said.

“Eliminate the foolishness” and “look at the big picture,” which is what the community is going to be like 50 years from now, Perkins added. “We’re all here together and we need to get rid of those things that keep us apart” and do what’s in the best interest of the community.

“We cannot continue to allow our next generation to be lost,” he said. If it is, “we will not be able to recover.”

The area’s students need education because if they can’t read or write, they can’t serve the older generation or future generations, Perkins said. Students, he added, should be encouraged to let their talents come to the surface.

“Can any good thing happen in Martinsville? ... It’s up to you to decide,” he said in closing.

Perkins announced that Virginia Union has a lot of scholarship money available and he pledged to set aside scholarships for students in the Martinsville area, he said.

He said the university is willing to support three to five students or more depending on how many from the area meet the standards of enrollment. To receive a merit scholarship, students are required to have at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA), he added.

Friday’s luncheon was part of the 19th Annual Citizens Awareness Week sponsored by Morning Star.


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