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History of the Richmond Professional Institute : from its beginning in 1917 to its consolidation with the Medical College of Virginia in 1968 to form Virginia Commonwealth University
The history of RPI
Whittet & Shepperson
164 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.
A History of the Richmond Professional Institute: From Its Beginning in 1917 to Its Consolidation With the Medical College of Virginia in 1968 to Form Virginia Commonwealth University was written by Dr. Henry H. Hibbs, Jr. (1887-1977), long-time leader of Richmond Professional Institute (RPI).
After he retired, Dr. Hibbs was paid a consultant's fee to write this book on the history of RPI. He designated VCU as the sole recipient of profits from the sale of the book. The alumni associations of VCU and the Richmond Professional Institute Foundation were involved in editing the book before it was published in 1973. It was sold by VCU in a limited publication run. Many of the copies were signed by the author.
Henry H. Hibbs, Jr. was born in Smithland, Kentucky on November 25, 1887, as one of eight children. He attended Brown University and majored in Sociology after becoming interested in the problems of urban communities. He received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1916, writing a dissertation titled "Infant Mortality: Its Relations to Social and Industrial Conditions."
In 1917, a group of Richmond community leaders organized the Richmond School of Social Economy to address the social and health concerns of urban life. The school would train social workers and public health nurses, becoming the first school of its kind in the south. Henry Hibbs was hired as its first director. He opened the Richmond School of Social Economy on a shoestring budget in a facility provided by the city. Immediately, it began supplying Richmond with free labor in the form of student field work.
In 1925, after operating in three different locations, the school, now named the Richmond School of Social Work and Public Health, purchased a building at 827 W. Franklin Street. This building would later be known as Founder's Hall. The school gained affiliation with the College of William and Mary and in 1939 was renamed the Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary. The new name denoted the unique emphasis of the institution on professional studies.
The student population of RPI increased rapidly, with enrollment growing from 51 full-time students in 1925, to 450 in 1940, to 1,100 in 1952. The curriculum also expanded to include a dozen schools and divisions by 1953, when it became fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges. By the end of the 1950s, courses ranged from art and art history to theatre, music, business, social work, and many others. Henry Hibbs asserted, "none of these [courses] duplicated the work of other colleges in Virginia."
Henry Hibbs retired in 1959 after leading the school for 42 years. By the early 1960s he and his wife, Jessie R. Persinger Hibbs, retired to Lexington, Virginia. In 1968, RPI merged with the Medical College of Virginia to become Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Henry Hibbs died April 4, 1977 at the age of 89. The Hibbs had two daughters, Mary Sue and Jessie. Both attended RPI.
Published for the RPI Foundation by Whittet and Shepperson.
Universities and colleges -- Virginia -- Richmond -- History
Corporate Name Subject
Richmond Professional Institute -- History
Corporate Name Subject
Virginia Commonwealth University -- History
RPI, Richmond Professional Institute, VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University
James Branch Cabell Library. Special Collections and Archives
Digital File Type
Scanned with Epson Expression 10000 XL, at 24-RBG color, 600 dpi.
Date of Submission
© VCU. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0 Acknowledgement of the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is required.
Hibbs, Henry Horace. 1973. A history of the Richmond Professional Institute: from its beginning in 1917 to its consolidation with the Medical College of Virginia in 1968 to form Virginia Commonwealth University. Richmond, Va: Published for the RPI Foundation by Whittet and Shepperson.