Claude Grandford Perkins, Ph.D.
Dr. Claude Grandford Perkins is the 12th President of Virginia Union University. Since his appointment as Chief Executive Officer in January of 2009, the university has undergone a major transformation. Perkins’ achievements include increases in enrollment, scholarships, retention, and the university’s net assets. Perkins has substantially stabilized the financial position of the university and continues to grow the endowment for long term financial viability.Toward that end, in June of 2015, Virginia Union University exceeded its Comprehensive Campaign goal of $30 million.
Perkins continues to work diligently to increase cooperation between Virginia Union University and the Greater Richmond business and church community. He created the Virginia Union University Scholarship Gala and Masquerade Ball, hosted by Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. In 2015, the gala and the promotion of a major comprehensive 150th Anniversary campaign highlighting Virginia Union to the commonwealth and the nation resulted in annual donations exceeding $6 million. This amount exceeds annual giving for the last 18 years.
Perkins has completed a new five-year strategic plan for the University and recently completed construction of the first residential facility on the Virginia Union campus in the last 45 years. In his honor, the Virginia Union University Board of Trustees named the new building the Claude G. Perkins Living and Learning Center at a cost of $17.7 million. Under his leadership, Virginia Union has added new faculty and new academic programs, including a new graduate program in Christian Education, a new graduate program in Curriculum and Instruction, a new fine arts program, the Center for the Study of the Urban Child, the Center for International Studies, and the Center for Small Business Development.
Perkins has made more than $12 million in campus improvements during his tenure as president, including a new fitness center, new chemistry and biology labs, all new student furnishings in Storer Hall, and a total facelift for Wall Auditorium. In addition, Perkins restored the Virginia Union Concert Choir and University Band, hired the second full-time head women’s basketball coach, first full-time track coach, and the first female director of bands.
Perkins’ successful efforts to get the university fully accredited have led to numerous accolades for the university, including designation by U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best Regional Colleges. Perkins’ support of faculty and students has led to an increase in faculty publications and student learning experiences. The first Fulbright Scholar under his presidency was recently completed and a new partnership with Meharry Medical College has created substantial opportunities for Virginia Union’s science majors.
Because of his ardent support of the value added proposition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Perkins is in demand as a national spokesperson. He recently served as the keynote speaker for the 32nd Annual UNCF Martin Luther King Day Breakfast. He joined several other HBCU presidents for an HBCU Panel Discussion at the City Club of Cleveland in June of 2015, and in November of 2015 he participated in an HBCU Presidents Panel in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Virginia Union University. Perkins was also a panelist at the National Action Network Annual Conference. In addition, he has been interviewed by National Public Radio, WRIC-TV, WTVR-TV, and WWBT-TV.
Perkins’ commitment to serving the community has led to record-breaking hours of student volunteer service in the Richmond metro area. Virginia Union has been honored by President Barack Obama with placement on the Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll four times during Perkins’ presidency. Perkins expands his leadership role throughout the Greater Richmond community and beyond, serving as a past member of the Board of Directors of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, and Richmond’s Future, as well as past chairperson of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association’s (CIAA) Board of Directors.
Currently, Perkins serves on the Executive Committee of Venture Richmond, and the Steering Committee of Future of Richmond’s Past. He is a member of the SunTrust Bank Mid-Atlantic Advisory Board, Richmond Management RoundTable, and Bridging Richmond. In addition, Perkins serves on the Board of Trustees of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Corporate Board of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF).
Perkins brings an impressive record of academic leadership to Virginia Union. He served as Professor of Educational Leadership, Graduate Dean and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Albany State University in Albany, Georgia. As the chief academic officer for graduate education, he was responsible for the granting of degrees in 13 areas of study, including education, business, criminal justice, public administration, and nursing education. Perkins also provided leadership in establishing international education programs in Kenya, Brazil, Jamaica, South Africa and volunteer programs in Europe and Asia through a program called “Camp Adventure.” Perkins serves as the chief administrative officer of the African Educational Research Network (AERN) and publisher of the international journal, The Symposium. He was the founding director of the Center for Educational Leadership at Clarion University of Pennsylvania, where he also earned tenure status as a full professor.
Perkins was the first African American to serve as Superintendent of Schools in Clark County, NV, which includes Las Vegas, the 5th largest school district in the nation. The Clark County School Board honored him for his work with the naming of the $25 million Claude Grandford Perkins Elementary School. Perkins also served as Superintendent of Schools in Kansas City, MO, and Deputy and Assistant Superintendent of Schools for the City of Richmond, VA. In addition, Perkins was appointed by the Governor of the State of Nevada to serve as the State Director (Secretary) of Commerce in 1982 with oversight responsibility of billions of dollars in state assets.
Perkins earned the Doctor of Philosophy Degree from The Ohio University, the Master of Arts Degree from Purdue University, and the Bachelor of Science Degree from Mississippi Valley State University. He has completed further study at Vanderbilt University, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Oklahoma State University.
The father of two sons and one daughter, Perkins is married to Cheryl Elizabeth Perkins.