Richmond Professional Institute History Wall dedication set for April 7

Richmond Professional Institute History Wall dedication set for April 7

The brownstone wall around Ginter House at 901 W. Franklin St. served as the epicenter of student activity at Richmond Professional Institute, a predecessor to Virginia Commonwealth University. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of RPI, and on April 7, the iconic wall will come to life inside the University Student Commons.

An RPI History Wall will be dedicated at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 7, in the Commons Theater. University Librarian John Ulmschneider and student Fred A. Williams Jr., chair of the SGA Activities Programming Board, will host the event. Edward H. Peeples, Ph.D., a 1957 graduate of RPI and an author and longtime VCU professor, will be the featured speaker. 

VCU Alumni’s RPI Alumni Council, composed of RPI alumni from the 1950s and 1960s, spearheaded the RPI History Wall, raising funds for the project and working with VCU Libraries and University Student Commons and Activities to construct the exhibit.

“The members of the RPI Council are very pleased to see this project come to fruition,” said Joe Lowenthal, a 1955 RPI graduate and chairman of the council. “It accomplishes a major goal of ours: to ensure that RPI’s role in forming VCU’s bedrock is remembered and memorialized. I am in awe of the great university that VCU has become. RPI was there to help put it all in motion, and I am very proud to be an alumnus and work actively with VCU Alumni.” 

The exhibit includes floor-to-ceiling photo display panels that depict the leaders and professors who taught at RPI and built its infrastructure, the students who built their futures on the cobblestone campus and the activities that built the foundation for the VCU of today and tomorrow. Running along the bottom of the exhibit is a representation of the brownstone wall where RPI students gathered.

A parallel wall contains a timeline that shows, in photos and commentary, significant milestones in RPI’s rich history from its inception in 1917 to its merger in 1968 with the Medical College of Virginia to become VCU. More than 15,000 students, faculty and visitors will pass between the two walls every day.

For information on the dedication ceremony, contact Diane Stout-Brown, senior director, VCU Alumni, at (804) 828-7020 or at

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