If you looked back in time one hundred years, would you recognize Randolph-Macon
In 1900, the college was
one of five members of the Randolph-Macon System of Colleges and Academies which
offered secondary and collegiate instruction for both men and women but at different
locations. Operating under one board of trustees, chiefly composed of Methodist
ministers, the system included R-MC in Ashland (founded 1830), and the Randolph-Macon
academies in Bedford City (1890) and Front Royal (1892) for men. Randolph-Macon
Woman's College in Lynchburg (1893) and Randolph-Macon Institute in Danville (1897)
were open to women. William W. Smith, a former R-MC president, was the system chancellor.
For the Fall 1900 term, Randolph-Macon enrolled 127 undergraduate students and five
postgraduates. (The entire system included around 600 students.) All but a handful
of the college's all-male students hailed from within the state. Many came because
of their family connections with the Methodist Church. Most arrived by train, often
seeing the college for the first time as the train pulled into Ashland.
The 1899-1900 college catalog describes Ashland's location - on the Richmond, Fredericksburg
and Potomac Railroad, 16 miles north of Richmond, upon the most elevated plateau
between that city and Fredericksburg, Va. The location was distinguished for healthfulness
and accessibility because severe pneumonia and violent fevers of the mountains and
the malarial diseases of the Tidewater regions are comparatively unknown.
Today, the college's enrollment is almost 10 times what it was one hundred years
ago. Last fall Randolph-Macon opened its doors to 1,134 students. The admissions
office reported this year's freshman class to be one of the largest in the history
of the college, with students hailing from 24 states and 6 foreign countries.
In addition to Randolph-Macon College, only Randolph-Macon Woman's College and Randolph-Macon
Academy still exist today, each as separate institutions with their own boards.
Known today as a private, independent, coeducational institution of the liberal
arts and sciences, Randolph-Macon continues to maintain a relationship with the
United Methodist Church, and, in fact, is the nation's oldest Methodist-related
college in continuous operation.
The college still places much emphasis on the advantages of its location, but for
new reasons. Within a small-town atmosphere, Randolph-Macon enjoys a connection
with metropolitan Richmond and the nation's capital. Both provide students with
internships opportunities and cultural outlets.
While few things remain the same - you can still catch the train at the station
adjacent to campus - Randolph-Macon is indeed a different place. Read on to learn
more about how a century can change a college.