Virginia Commonwealth University is a prestigious public institution in the centre of Richmond, the state’s capital. The university has existed in its current form since 1967 when the Medical College of Virginia and the Richmond Professional Institute merged. The former, however, had been founded back in 1838 and stayed open throughout the American Civil War.
Five of the university’s study programmes are the first of their kind: its undergraduate degree in homeland security & emergency preparedness, master’s programmes in nurse anaesthesia & product innovation, and doctorates in mechanical & nuclear engineering and media, art & text. VCU was also the first university in the US to open a campus in Qatar. Based in Doha, VCUQatar mostly runs art and design-based courses.
Richmond boasts a number of museums, sizeable parks and varied restaurants. It has six bridges over the James River, Virginia’s largest, which flows into the Atlantic Ocean slightly more than 50 miles south-east of the city.
Alumni include Baruj Benacerraf, the immunologist who won the 1980 Nobel Prize for Medicine for discovering genetically determined structures on cell surfaces which regulate immunological reactions, Steve West, the drummer from 1990s indie rock band Pavement, and Gerald Henderson, the four-time National Basketball Association champion who played for the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons and Seattle Sonics.