|Infinitesimal in number, as compared to the humanity they serve, are the salient figures of history.
One such figure was James Solomon Russell, founder and first principal of the Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School. (The name of the school was spelled without an apostrophe "s" until the charter was changed in 1941.)
The newly ordained deacon in the Protestant Episcopal Church arrived in Lawrenceville, in Brunswick County, Virginia, March 16, 1882. Here he found a small group of Negro communicants in St. Andrew's Church and organized them into a congregation. By February 1883, the first Saint Paul chapel had been constructed and was ready for occupancy. Immediately, a parochial school was organized in the vestry room of this small frame chapel. Soon these quarters of the parochial school became too small for the increasing enrollment, and a three-room frame structure was built with funds contributed by the Reverend James Saul of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
On September 24, 1888, with fewer than a dozen students, the Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School was started in the building known as the Saul Building. More students came as word about the school traveled. The members increased to such an extent that the founder, The Reverend James Solomon Russell, realized the need for a program of expansion and development.
By act of the General Assembly of Virginia, on March 4, 1890, the school was incorporated as the Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School, and with the name it was given a perpetual succession and common seal.
A collegiate department of teacher training was started in 1922 and was accredited by the Virginia State Board of Education in 1926. As a result of this development, a large percentage of the teachers in the elementary and secondary schools of Virginia and the neighboring states of North Carolina and Maryland are graduates of Saint Paul's.
In 1928, the founder, the Venerable James Solomon Russell, archdeacon in the Diocese of Southern Virginia, retired with the title of Principal Emeritus. His son, the Reverend Dr. J. Alvin Russell, was elected his successor and continued the work in the faith of the Founder. The period of Dr. J. Alvin Russell's service as chief administrator, 1928 - 1950, brought about many changes and improvements. The charter was amended on December 30, 1941, the authority to grant degrees based on a four year program was granted, the name of the institution was changed to Saint Paul's Polytechnic Institute and the chief administrator, Dr. J. Alvin Russell, became the first chief administrator to carry the title of President. Degree programs leading to the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Science in Education were started in September 1942. The endowment was increased and several buildings were erected, important among which were: Julia C. Emery Hall, 1930; William H. Scott Administration Building, 1932; and the Anna Ramsdell Johnston Building, 1933. World War II interrupted the building program, but in 1948 ground was broken for the William Ambrose Brown Science Building and the James Solomon Russell Memorial Library, which were completed and dedicated in 1951.
In the spring of 1950, Dr. Earl H. McClenney was elected president. During the administration of Dr. McClenney, many notable improvements were made. The College was admitted to membership in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the United Negro College Fund, and the Association of Episcopal Colleges.
At its annual meeting on February 27, 1957, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the institution form Saint Paul's Polytechnic Institute to Saint Paul's College. The Trustees also approved the reorganization of the curriculum to include courses leading to the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees.
Upon the retirement of Dr. McClenney on September 1, 1970, Mr. Edward I. Long was appointed Acting President. The most notable achievement of his administration was the reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
In January 1971, the Board of Trustees named Dr. James A. Russell, Jr., (grandson of the founder) President of the College effective July 1, 1971.
The College has always placed strong emphasis upon building Christian character. By formal resolution of the Board of Trustees, the College is open to students and teachers of all denominations and races. Many religious faiths are represented among its students and faculty.
Saint Paul's is a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and since 1923 has been represented in all major athletic contests.
From the beginning, Saint Paul’s has played an important part in the life of the local community. In its early years, the school supplied ice for the Southern Railroad, operating between Danville and Norfolk, Virginia, and supplied water and electricity for the town of Lawrenceville and Southside Virginia remain as evidence of the industrial activity of Saint Paul's trade students.
James A. Russell, Jr.'s administration completed the erection of Russell Hall, a new classroom building, three student dormitories, an apartment complex for faculty and staff, and the addition of an expansive new wing on the library.
A faculty development program helped several faculty members earn doctoral degrees. Improved faculty recruitment brought the percentage of faculty and staff with earned doctorates to 45 percent in 1980. Also, many curricular program changes were completed.
Upon the retirement of Dr. James A. Russell, Jr., Dr. S. Dallas Simmons was elected President of the College starting on July 1, 1981. During Dr. Simmons' administration, he physical appearance of the campus changed significantly. A major road paving and building repair project was undertaken.
Special emphasis was placed on the dissemination of public information, the development of a college band, and curriculum review and revision. A successful five-year fund raising campaign began.
At this time the Board of Associates was established to assist the College in fundraising, image-building, and student recruitment. These friends of the College provided another effective way to market the institution.
Dr. Simmons resigned August 21, 1985. Dr. John M. Diggs led the College as Acting President for a successful academic year.
Dr. Marvin B. Scott became the sixth President effective July 1, 1986, am served two years. Scoot founded the Single Parent Support System at Saint Paul's.
Dr. Sunday A. Adesuyi served briefly as Chief Executive Officer until July 15, 1988, when D. Robert L. Satcher, Sr., the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, was appointed Acting President. He served effectively for a year and a half, until the election of the new President.
Dr. Thomas M. Law was elected President effective October 15, 1989. Dr. Law brought a wealth of expertise in higher education administration, including service as President of two schools and Deputy Chancellor at the State University of New York. Dr. Law is a devoted alumnus.
During his administration, Dr. Law continued to build a strong academic program. He presided over the largest and most successful fundraising campaign in the College's history, meeting a $7.5 million goal. He secured funding to renovate the historic Chicago Building with a new 424-seat auditorium, new administrative offices, and classrooms. He was successful during the final year of his administration in raising funds for the College's new student center. Other initiatives by Dr. Law included building the Single Parent Support System, the Aquaculture Science Program, and the Organizational Management Program. Dr. law served as President for 12 years and retired in August 2001.
Dr. John K. Waddell became the eighth president of Saint Paul’s College in September 2001. During Dr. Waddell's initial two years, he has had a dynamic impact on college operations. He began immediately with renovations and improvement within student housing. He hired an experienced general contractor as the College's Director of Maintenance and began renovations on all building within budget constraints. He stabilized the financial operations of the College and secured funding to complete construction of the new student center. Dr. Waddell brought football back to the College after a 17-year hiatus. He initiated the James Solomon Russell Scholars Program to recruit and encourage students to consider careers in church ministry. Dr. Waddell is committed to building a strong legacy of administrative leadership and academic excellence for Saint Paul's College.
The Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Robert L. Satcher, Sr. Interim President on July 13, 2006, and named him the ninth President of the College on March 19, 2007. He served as Professor of Chemistry/Physics at the College from Fall 1992 to July 13, 2006. Active within the Episcopal Church, highly acquainted with the accreditation process and experienced in academic administration at Hampton University, Fisk University and Saint Paul’s College, Dr. Satcher has worked tirelessly to increase the College’s enrollment and financial stability. He has re-established and renewed ties to the Episcopal Church and now serves as President of the Association of Episcopal Colleges after his selection in October 2007. Saint Paul’s College’s Teacher Education program was accredited by the Virginia Department of Education in 2008, and the Teacher Education Department received a $200,000 grant from the Virginia State Department of Education funding a Blackboard online education program. Dr. Satcher gained funding and conducted a Saturday Science Academy for middle school students for five years. A summer Science and Mathematics Institute for high school students was funded for ten years by the Frances Emily Hunt Trust of the Mellon Foundation. He was awarded a National Science. Foundation (NSF) grant to support a Science Teacher Enhancement program (STEP) He inaugurated a required service learning (community service) component in the curriculum to serve as a capstone experience for students. Other initiatives include constructing a bridge connecting the main campus to the student center, renovations of buildings, upgrades of security and transportation, development of a management plan, and the expansion of student activities to include dance and a drum line. Emergency warning policies, procedures, and systems, and retention of students and alumni initiatives centered on the use of the National Clearinghouse Tracking system were instituted. Under his administration the first class of Brown v Board of Education scholars graduated, additional support for the Single Parent Support System (SPSS) was developed, and Saint Paul’s College received the largest contribution ever from one of its graduates (an alumna) as an endowed scholarship fund to support scholarships for students.