VUU Alum Makes $2.5 Million Gift; Largest In School History by an Individual

Virginia Union University [a UNCF-member institution] announces a $2.5 million gift, the largest amount the school has ever received from an individual at one-time.

The gift was presented Saturday during the 2019 Commencement. Dr. Virginia B. Howerton, a 1965 graduate of VUU, says she hopes other alumni and businesses will feel inspired to support the university as well.

“I’ve always had a special connection to Union,” she told graduates. “I’m pleased to start a new chapter, promoting the university and pushing it forward.”

The funds will be used for several priorities: strategic growth development; historic preservation on campus; and full scholarships for students who meet the criteria.

Click here to view Dr. Howerton announcing her gift.

“We are appreciative that Dr. Howerton remembered her alma mater so generously,” said Dr. Hakim J. Lucas, President and CEO of VUU. “The gift will allow us to fulfill a few of our dreams and goals. She is an angel for our students, and she is making a major impact on Virginia Union University.”

Dr. Howerton has spent more than 20 years as a consultant to the government, businesses, and non-profit organizations. She is owner of ViGar Enterprises, Inc., and The Crimson Development Company. She is also co-owner and vice-president of Winnar Enterprises, Inc., a management consultant company.

Howerton plans to be actively engaged with the university and its students through mentorship. She also will hold a seat on the VUU Board of Trustees.

More than 350 students received their degree under a huge white tent on historic Hovey Field. The 2019 graduates collectively have a grade point average of 3.09, the highest for a graduating class in VUU history. Three students were named valedictorian, each with a 4.0 GPA. In addition, 41% of the graduates say they have already accepted a job offer and 20% say they have been accepted into graduate school. The top three majors to receive degrees were criminal justice, biology, and entrepreneurial management.

The Commencement speaker was award-winning actor, producer, and humanitarian Danny Glover, who said he sees himself in students, full of hope and enthusiasm, making an impact on the world. But as “The Color Purple” actor also said, “with all that’s happening in the world today, it’s time for a new narrative.”

“This is one of many major accomplishments you will have in your life, but I encourage you to rethink your idea of success,” Glover said. “Be powerful where we lacked strength, be successful where we fall short. Resistance and sustainable activism are ingredients to change.”

Glover was among three people awarded honorary degrees. Glover and Barbara R. Grey received Doctor of Humane Letters. Grey is the beloved director of the VUU Museum Art Galleries and a 1947 VUU graduate. The Rev. Dr. Earl F. Miller received an honorary doctor of divinity degree. He is an alumnus of VUU’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology and was a dean at VUU from 1972-1976.