The Richmond public schools, one of four major systems in the area, are garnering a growing share of excellent achievement results, and the system has earned a reputation for innovative and highly successful new programs. The Special Achievement for Academic and Creative Excellence, or SPACE, program provides accelerated challenges for elementary, middle and high school students. Richmond Community High School provides a focused curriculum to prepare gifted students for college; the school emphasizes outreach to economically and socially disadvantaged youth. The city also has a public military school, the first in the nation in a public school system. The Open High School offers academic strategies to reach alternative learners.
All four public school systems in the Richmond area have one joint educational venture, the Mathematics and Science Center located in Henrico County. It is believed to be the only such regional center in the country supported completely by local funds, and it is one of the early examples of regional cooperation in the Richmond area.
The following is a summary of data regarding Richmond's public schools as of the 2003–2004 school year.
Total enrollment: 25,000
Number of facilities elementary schools: 31
junior high/middle schools: 9
senior high schools: 8
other: 17, including one military school and a gifted high school
Student/teacher ratio: K-1, 24:1; grades 2-5, 25:1; grades 6-12, 22:1
Funding per pupil: $7,969
More than 45 alternative institutions offer instruction to Richmond area students, including private college-preparatory schools and schools for exceptional children.
Metro Richmond is home to 11 institutions of higher learning. Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is the state's largest urban public university; it enrolls more than 24,000 students. VCU is the home of the Medical College of Virginia and additionally offers 162 baccalaureate, master's, doctoral and certificate degree programs in the Colleges of Humanities and Sciences, and schools of Allied Health Professions, Arts, Basic Health Sciences, Business, Community and International Programs, Dentistry, Education, Graduate Studies, School of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Social Work. VCU has an entrepreneurship program for young women at its School of Business. In 1998, VCU added a $40 million School of Engineering facility that houses a Microelectronics Center with clean room technology for semiconductor research.
The University of Richmond is one of the largest private colleges in Virginia and one of the most academically challenging schools in the country. It began in 1830 as Richmond College, a college of liberal arts and sciences for men. Around this nucleus have been added the School of Arts and Sciences, the Jepson School of Leadership Studies (the first school of its kind in the nation), and the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business. The school opened the T.C. Williams School of Law in 1870, making it one of the oldest law schools in the state. The university offers its enrollment of 2,976 undergraduates a menu of baccalaureate degrees in 56 major areas of study, with 40 minors and 12 concentrations.
Virginia Union University was founded in 1865 by the Baptist Church to give educational opportunities to African Americans. Today it offers its diverse student body undergraduate liberal arts, sciences, education, and business courses, as well as graduate courses in theology. The liberal arts foundation is augmented by specialized programs, such as a dual-degree engineering program, offered in conjunction with the University of Michigan, the University of Iowa, and Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Union Theological Seminary is one of the top ten theological institutions in the nation. It is recognized for its rigorous academic program and its pioneering work in field education and student-in-ministry experiences. A seminary of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Union Theological offers doctor of ministry, master of divinity, master of theology, and doctor of philosophy degrees. The Presbyterian School of Christian Education, a graduate school, is the only one of eleven theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church to specialize solely in the discipline of Christian education.
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College operates three campuses: one in downtown Richmond, another in Henrico County, and the western campus in Goochland County. It offers programs in liberal arts and sciences, engineering, education, and business administration as well as technical vocation training in a number of fields.
John Tyler Community College operates a main campus in Chesterfield County and two auxiliary campuses. Also offering higher educational opportunities in Metro Richmond are Randolph-Macon College, Virginia State University, and Richard Bland Community College.
Libraries abound in Richmond. There is the Library of Virginia, with 1,783,287 books, periodicals, government publications and microforms specializing in Virginiana, Southern and Confederate history, and genealogy. The Richmond Public Library system has a main library plus 9 branches containing more than 800,000 books, periodicals, and audio- and videocassettes. The county of Henrico library system has more than 550,000 books, videocassettes, periodicals, and art prints. Many other libraries are operated by area universities, colleges, and museums. The Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired is a member of the National Library Service for the Visually and Physically Handicapped, a Library of Congress network. As the seat of government in Virginia, Richmond is naturally home to the primary branch of the Virginia State Law Library, containing comprehensive legal materials for use by defendants, inmates, attorneys, the courts and the general public.
Virginia Commonwealth University is home to the third largest research library system in the state of Virginia, with more than 1.7 million print volumes. The Tompkins-McCaw Library at VCU contains the largest collection of medical materials in the state. In general, VCU is the headquarters of nearly a dozen research centers and programs, primarily in the biological and health sciences. Virginia Biotechnology Research Park is home to 45 biotechnology, bioscience, and other related companies and research institutions that are helping to make Virginia an East Coast technology leader. Also located in Richmond is the Hazardous Technical Information Services.
Public Library Information: Richmond Public Library, 101 East Franklin Street, Richmond, VA 23219-2193; telephone (804)646-4867