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Virginia State University president Eddie Moore Jr. retires

Richmond Times-Dispatch
June 29, 2010
The students stood and applauded as the guest lecturer walked into their class.

Eddie N. Moore Jr., just 20 days from retirement, arrived with lessons gleaned from his 17 years as president of Virginia State University.

Two aerial photographs propped on the blackboard contrasted the campus he was leaving with the financially crippled school bereft of amenities he found when he arrived in 1993.

He knew he couldn't ask "college athletes to come to facilities that are worse than the ones they're leaving in high school," he told the students in the sports-administration class.

But what Moore has done for VSU goes beyond renovated baseball fields and the football stadium. "He saved VSU," said the university's rector, Earnest J. Edwards. "It was in decline and on the brink."

Moore, a certified public accountant with a master's degree in business administration, put the university's finances in order.

Under his leadership, VSU has grown by nearly every measure -- from 3,996 students when he arrived to 5,366 this year; from a $2.5 million endowment to one totaling $23.6 million; from no doctoral degree programs to two.

Tomorrow, the university will announce the biggest gift in its history.

But Moore, who grew up in inner-city Philadelphia with Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, said he takes the most pride in VSU's rise in the rankings among the nation's historically black colleges and universities.

Moore said he and Jones often "reflect upon what a wonderful occurrence it is to believe that inner-city kids can still make a difference."

VSU offers "underserved students" the opportunity to do just that, Moore said. He's heard "so many stories over 17 years of students who weren't admitted anywhere else and they're at Harvard now or they're at UNC-Chapel Hill pursuing their Ph.D.s."

Edwards said Moore is protective of VSU's mission, and he thinks that's why Moore put his head and his heart into his work with an almost religious fervor.

"He embraced this as a calling," the rector said.
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