Virginia State University set to become first HBCU to host a presidential debate

BY Preta Peace Namasaba December 1, 2023 9:43 AM EDT
Virginia State University. Photo credit: Virginia State University

Virginia State University (VSU) is poised to make history as the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to host a presidential debate, a prestigious honor bestowed upon the institution by the Commission on Presidential Debates for the 2024 election.

Expressing gratitude and excitement, Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, President of VSU, remarked, “We are honored and grateful to have been chosen as a host for a 2024 Presidential Debate. This is a historic moment for our university and for HBCUs nationwide. Our university mantra is ‘Greater Happens Here,’ and we look forward to welcoming the candidates, the Commission on Presidential Debates, and the entire nation to the GREATER at VSU.”

The groundbreaking debate is slated for October 1, 2024, marking a significant milestone for VSU and HBCUs at large. Positioned as the second of three scheduled general election presidential debates, this event will serve as a crucial platform for candidates to articulate their policies, engage in meaningful dialogue, and showcase their leadership abilities.

The VSU Multipurpose Center has been chosen as the venue for this historic debate. Renowned for its state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities and modern amenities, the center provides an ideal setting for such a preeminent event. Collaborating closely with the Commission on Presidential Debates, VSU will ensure the seamless organization and execution of the debate.

This occasion presents VSU with a unique opportunity to engage in substantive discussions on contemporary issues. The university intends to leverage this platform to foster campus conversations, encourage diverse viewpoints, and underscore its commitment to social justice. As an HBCU, VSU is set to exemplify its role as a champion for inclusivity and a leading institution in higher education.

Eldon Burton, VSU Assistant Vice President for Government Relations, emphasized the university’s longstanding commitment to excellence, inclusivity, and civic engagement. He stated, “We have always been committed to excellence, inclusivity, and civic engagement. This incredible achievement will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact on the campus community, the university’s reputation, and the nation as a whole. Now people will know that not only does Greater Happen at VSU, but history happens here as well.”

Founded in 1882 as a public, historically black, land-grant university, VSU holds the distinction of being the first fully state-supported four-year institution of higher learning for Black Americans. With a student body exceeding 5,100 and an endowment of approximately $56 million, VSU continues to be a trailblazing force in education and a beacon of excellence within the HBCU community. This upcoming presidential debate stands as a testament to the university’s rich history and its ongoing commitment to shaping the narrative of progress and inclusivity in higher education.