Campus Profile: Virginia State University

Third in a series of articles from our visits to colleges and universities that are invited to participate in the 2018 College Film Awards.

Virginia State University in Petersburg is thousands of miles from Hollywood. But what a setting for movie-makers!

Set on a bluff overlooking the Appomattox River with centuries old brick masterpieces dotting the landscape, VSU is an historic gem among Virginia colleges. But a short walk down Hayden Street on campus quickly returns us to the 21st century as this historically black university embarks on ambitious construction projects.

Our interests are focused on university film programs. So how does VSU stack up? We met with Emmy-award winning director Jesse Vaughan at the nearby Vincenzo’s Restaurant. Jesse assists VSU in its in-house film productions.

He is struck by the creative potential of VSU students. They assisted him in developing a short film on campus and in Petersburg about Edgar Allan Poe’s years there. While the university offers no film studies major, there are classes in screenwriting and mass communication that can whet a student’s interest in taking the next step to filmmaking.

Another step in that direction is the new Academic Commons Building, keystone of the university’s 2015 Master Plan. The ACB will house high tech classrooms and event space that will “create new synergies” for students, according to the Master Plan. We hope VSU will be synergized as well toward developing a master cinema program to prepare students for the growing entertainment industry.

In the meantime, we encourage the creative VSU students to digitally develop their stories so we can tell them at the 2018 College Film Awards next November. Go Trojans!