Warren Brandt, the first president of Virginia Commonwealth University, died this week at the age of 93. Brandt served as university president from June 1969 through October 1974 after Richmond Professional Institute and the Medical College of Virginia merged to form VCU. He presided over a period of rapid growth and steep operational challenges associated with the charge to unite two distinct institutions with their own administrations, facilities, processes and traditions.
Eugene Trani, Ph.D., who served as president of VCU from 1990 to 2009, said at the 2005 dedication of Brandt Hall, a 17-story dormitory named to honor Brandt’s critical role in the history of the university, that Brandt deftly managed the difficult transition.
“As with any change of that magnitude, there were many pressing issues to handle, from setting up a new governance system to addressing budgetary issues to dealing with faculty concerns — including considerable resistance to the merger on the part of some faculty,” said Trani, now a president emeritus and university distinguished professor. “Dr. Brandt skillfully combined his knowledge and abilities as a researcher, professor and administrator to successfully lead Virginia Commonwealth University as its first president from 1969 to 1974. He set the stage and created a strong foundation for the tremendous growth that we have experienced since his time here.”