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The History of the Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund

Dr. Walter N. Ridley
Dr. Walter N. Ridley

In 1953, Dr. Walter N. Ridley earned a doctorate of education degree from the University of Virginia, becoming the first Black graduate of the University and the first Black to receive an academic doctoral degree from a traditional southern white college or university. He graduated with high honors and his pioneering achievements in desegregating the University were noted in the national and international press at the time.

During the inaugural Black Alumni Weekend in 1987, the late John Merchant—a 1958 graduate, and the first Black recipient of a Juris Doctor degree from the UVA School of Law—suggested that a scholarship be created in Dr. Ridley’s honor. What began as a $500 book award has since grown into a host of scholarships for incoming first-year and upper-class students.

Read more about the history of the fund here.

Our Vision

To be the premier Black scholarship organization in the nation.

Our Mission

Our mission is to uphold and promote the exemplary principles of our namesake and first Black graduate of the University of Virginia, Dr. Walter N. Ridley through:

Learning:  To contribute to a superior learning environment by providing scholarships to Black students of the highest academic caliber.

Leadership:  To represent issues of importance to Black students and alumni.

Legacy:  To create a lasting, positive contribution to the University.