Bluefield University

Coordinates: 37°14′22.1″N 81°15′7.2″W / 37.239472°N 81.252000°W / 37.239472; -81.252000
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Bluefield University
Former names
Bluefield College (1922–2021)
Deus, Patria, Lux
Motto in English
God, Country, Light
TypePrivate university
Religious affiliation
Baptist (Baptist General Association of Virginia)
PresidentMichael Salmeier (Interim)
Location, ,
Campus82 acres (33 ha)
Blue & Red[2]
Sporting affiliations
MascotVictor E. Ram

Bluefield University [3] is a private Baptist university in Bluefield, Virginia. It offers 22 majors and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The 82-acre (330,000 m2) campus is about 150 ft (46 m) from the state line between Virginia and West Virginia. It is affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia. Bluefield University merged with Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine medical school system located at the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.[4]


Bluefield University was founded as Bluefield College in 1922 by the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV), after residents of Bluefield offered to donate land and start-up funds.[5] R.A. Landsdell became the first president in 1920, and the current administration building is named Landsdell Hall in his honor. At its founding, Bluefield was a two-year junior college. Future Nobel Prize winner John F. Nash took mathematics courses at the relatively new college while in high school. In his autobiography for the Nobel Foundation, he writes

I should mention that during my last year in the Bluefield schools that my parents had arranged for me to take supplementary math courses at Bluefield College, which was then a 2-year institution operated by Southern Baptists. I didn't get official advanced standing at Carnegie because of my extra studies but I had advanced knowledge and ability and didn't need to learn much from the first math courses at Carnegie.[6]

Under Charles L. Harman, president from 1946 to 1971, the college built Easley Library, the dormitory Rish Hall, Harman Chapel, and a geodesic dome as the gymnasium.[5]

In 1975, Bluefield reinvented itself as a four-year college, and during the 1989–1996 presidency of Roy A. Dobyns, student enrollment doubled to more than 800 students. In 1998, under the leadership of President Daniel G. MacMillan, the college cut tuition by over 20% and refocused its student recruitment on the local area.[5]

In 2007 David W. Olive, was inaugurated as president.[7] Shortly thereafter, the college raised tuition by about 20%,[8] and announced a new strategic plan.[9]

During the centennial anniversary of Bluefield College, it achieved university status and became Bluefield University upon announcement from President David Olive at the President's Convocation on August 18, 2021.[10]

Olive announced his retirement early in the fall 2023 semester, with his provost, pMichael Salmeier, becoming interim president beginning in the spring 2024 semester.


Presidents of Bluefield University have included:[11]

Bluefield University presidents
R. A. Lansdell 1920–1926
J. Taylor Stinson* 1926–1927
Oscar E. Sams 1927–1930
J. Taylor Stinson 1930–1934
Edwin C. Wade 1934–1946
Charles L. Harman 1946–1971
Charles L. Tyer 1972–1988
Gary N. Garner* 1988–1989
Roy A. Dobyns 1989–1996
T. Keith Edwards* 1996–1997
Daniel G. MacMillan 1997–2006
Charles Warren* 2006–2007
David W. Olive 2007–2023
Michael Salmeier* 2024-Present

* – interim presidents


Bluefield University's campus is located on 82 acres on the eastern edge of Bluefield, Virginia, facing the northern side of the East River Mountain.

Academic and administrative buildings[edit]

  • Lansdell Hall – Opening in 1922, building holds the college's primary administrative offices and classrooms.
  • Easley Library – The three-story building features the campus library on the upper two floors, while the first floor houses the education department and classrooms.
  • Harman Chapel – The spire of the chapel is featured in the college's logo. The building houses the music and theater departments and serves as a host for events including convocations, graduations, concerts, plays, and services.
  • Science Center – The building holds offices, classrooms, science labs, and technology labs.
  • Cox Visual Arts Center – Located on the southwestern corner of campus, the building holds classrooms, offices, and workspace for the art department.
  • Alumni Advancement Building

Residential buildings[edit]

  • Cruise Hall – Constructed with the opening of the college in 1922, the building now serves as a male dormitory.
  • Rish Hall – The first floor contains classrooms and houses the English department, communication department, and the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE). The upper three floors serve as a male dormitory.
  • East River Hall – Female dormitory
  • Alumni Hall – Male dormitory
  • Bluestone Commons – Constructed in 2014, the buildings hold male and female apartment-style student housing.

Student life facilities[edit]

  • Shott Hall – Holds the Student Activities Center, main dining hall, Quick Shott Cafe, campus bookstore, and student mailboxes.
  • Dan MacMillan Center – Opening in 2007, the building is the focal point for the college's outreach and service projects.

The campus also features access to outdoor activities, including an on-campus nature trail.[12]

Athletic facilities[edit]

  • Dome Gymnasium – The dome serves as the home court for Bluefield's basketball and volleyball teams, and holds athletic offices and classrooms.[13]
  • Mitchell Stadium – The 10,000-seat football stadium has hosted home games for the Bluefield football program since 2011.[13]
  • Bowen Field – The home field for the college's baseball team seats 3,000 and sits just to the north of campus.[13]
  • East River Soccer Complex – The home field for Bluefield's soccer teams is located between Route 460 and I-77 on John Nash Blvd.[13]
  • Bluefield City Courts – Home courts for the Bluefield men's and women's tennis teams.[13]
  • Bluefield Area Softball Field – Located three miles from campus, the park holds the home field for the college's softball team.[13]
  • Fincastle on the Mountain – The 18-hole course is the home to the college's golf program.[13]
  • Herb Sims Wellness Center - A short distance from campus, this facility is used for football training and contains the football coaches' offices.[13]


Bluefield University is organized into the following colleges and departments:

  • College of Arts and Letters
    • Department of Christian Studies
    • Department of Art and Design
    • Department of Music
    • Department of Theatre
    • Department of History
    • Department of English
  • College of Professional Programs
    • Department of Business
    • Department of Communication
    • Department of Graphic Communication
    • Department of Criminal Justice
    • Department of Human Services
    • Department of Management & Leadership
  • College of Sciences
    • Department of Biology
    • Department of Chemistry
    • Department of Exercise & Sport Science
    • Department of Mathematics
    • Department of Psychology
  • School of Education
  • School of Nursing


The Bluefield athletic teams are called the Rams. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA),[14] primarily competing in the Appalachian Athletic Conference (AAC) for most of their sports since the 2014–15 academic year (which they were a member on a previous stint from 2001–02 to 2011–12);[15] while its football team competes in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) since the 2014 fall season. They were also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA), primarily competing as an independent in the Mid-East Region of the Division I level until after the 2019–20 school year to fully align with the NAIA.[16] The Rams previously competed in the Mid-South as a full member from 2012–13 to 2013–14. Athletes make up about 60% of the student population at Bluefield.[17] It serves as host for the NCAA Softball National Championship.[18]

Bluefield competes in 18 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, track & field, volleyball and wrestling. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball; and co-ed sports compete in cheerleading. Former sports included women's golf. The school has won national championships in men's soccer and baseball.


The Bluefield Rams men's basketball team was often nationally ranked between 2007 and 2009 under head coach Jason Gillespie. In the 2008–09 season, the Rams won 27 games, including an 18–0 mark in AAC conference play and a regular season championship, but fell in the conference tournament to then-rival King University by one point, finishing the season ranked seventh in NAIA Division II. Guard/forward Omar Reed went on to play professionally with the San Antonio Spurs' NBA Development League affiliate, with the Boston Celtics organization, as well as internationally in Europe and Japan.[19]


The Bluefield Rams baseball team won its first NCCAA Division I national championship in 2009[20] and followed with a school-record 41 wins in 2010 before losing in the NCCAA World Series finals to North Greenville. In 2007 they were the NCCAA Mid-East Regional Champs, and made their fourth NCCAA World Series appearance in 2014. Current head coach Mike White has won over 200 games with Bluefield[21] and has sent multiple players to professional baseball. The Rams play their home games at Bowen Field. As of 2014, nine former Bluefield baseball players have gone on to play professionally.[22]


Bluefield fielded a football program from 1922 to 1941, but had not had a football program since the attack on Pearl Harbor.[23] On June 4, 2011, Bluefield University announced the return of a football program under head coach Mike Gravier, beginning with "club football" season in 2011, and began play in the NAIA in 2012.[24] The school hired Ordell Walker as the program's new head coach in 2013,[25] and the Rams earned their first win since the program's return with a 46–24 defeat of the Apprentice Builders in Newport News, Va., on September 13, 2014.[26] The Rams play their home games in 10,000-seat Mitchell Stadium.

Cross country[edit]

Bluefield hired Coach Travis Yoder in 2014 to build a cross country and track and field program from ground zero. In his first year as head coach he had the schools first NCCAA national qualifier in school history (Kendall Haynes). After his first year Coach Travis Yoder left Bluefield. Bluefield then hired Coach Kendall Haynes to Coach cross country and is now building a track and field program as well. During Coach Haynes's first year in 2017 he had the schools first girls NCCAA national qualifiers in school history (Kenize Marshall and Jordyn O'Saben).

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Bluefield College celebrates 2nd highest enrollment in school hi – WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports". 2014-10-08. Archived from the original on 2016-01-10. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2014-12-13.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Hello, Bluefield University! Former college makes announcement during centennial celebration". 19 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Bluefield College Joins VCOM family of schools". 20 March 2020.
  5. ^ a b c History Archived June 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "John F. Nash Jr. – Biographical". Archived from the original on 2007-06-09. Retrieved 8 September 2015.
  7. ^ Campus News-Inauguration Archived June 21, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Traditional Undergraduate Tuition Costs Archived June 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Strategic Plan". Archived from the original on 2015-08-18. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  10. ^ "Hello, Bluefield University! Former college makes announcement during centennial celebration". 19 August 2021.
  11. ^ "History of Bluefield College". Bluefield College. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  12. ^ "The Great Outdoors in Bluefield". 2014-04-23. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bluefield College Athletics | Christian College Virginia | Bluefield College Athletic Facilities". Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  14. ^ "Schools". NAIA.ORG. NAIA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Members". Appalachian Athletic Conference. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Membership Directory" (PDF). National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  17. ^ Athletic Overview Archived March 4, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "Softball". Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  19. ^ Tim Brafford (2014-02-27). "Bluefield College | Former Ram Omar Reed Ballin' in Japan | Christian College Virginia". Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  20. ^[bare URL PDF]
  21. ^ "White earns 200th career victory at Bluefield – NAIA – National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics". NAIA. 2 April 2012. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  22. ^ "Bluefield College Baseball Players". Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  23. ^ [1] Archived June 28, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ White, Jim (July 24, 2010). "Bluefield College names football coach". Religious Herald. Archived from the original on 2011-10-03. Retrieved June 24, 2011.
  25. ^ "Mid-South Conference Athletics News". 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  26. ^ "Bluefield College | Rams Secure First Football Win Since '41 | Christian College Virginia". 1941-11-20. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  27. ^ "Bluefield College | Mixing a Passion for Math and Sports | Christian College Virginia". Retrieved 2015-08-16.

External links[edit]

37°14′22.1″N 81°15′7.2″W / 37.239472°N 81.252000°W / 37.239472; -81.252000