The Ridley Scholarship Program

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 gown into a host of scholarships for incoming first-year and upper-class students.

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