University History

Dr. George Matthews Modlin

President, 1946-1971


Dr. George M. Modlin became President of the University of Richmond in 1946, following Dr. Boatwright’s resignation in June of that year. Dr. Modlin held this post for 25 years until resigning in 1971. Even then, Dr. Modlin continued his service to the University as Chancellor until 1986. He was appointed to the position of Chancellor Emeritus until his passing in 1998.

Dr. Modlin received an A.B. degree from Wake Forest University in 1924, followed by an M.A. degree from Princeton University in 1925 and a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1932. Dr. Modlin taught Economics at Princeton and Rutgers, and became Dean of the Evening School of Business Administration and Chairman of the Economics department at the University of Richmond in 1938.

Dr. Modlin married Virginia Pendleton Brinkley on June 2, 1928. During WWII he served as Director of the Engineering, Science and Management War Training program at the University, and was also a Public Panel Member of the War Labor Board.

During Dr. Modlin’s tenure as President, new programs were established, including The E. Claiborne Robins School of Business Administration, The Day Division of University College, the ROTC program and seven new degrees. The University acquired 50 additional acres, bringing the campus to 350 acres. 19 major and 15 minor buildings were constructed, purchased or begun, including South Court, Boatwright Memorial Library and the Robins Center.

In addition to the Modlin Center for the Performing Arts, Dr. Modlin’s legacy includes his role in procuring the historic $50 million gift from E. Claiborne Robins. In 1969, during a meeting of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Robins asked Dr. Modlin what it would take to make Richmond a truly great university. Dr. Modlin told him $50 million; the resulting gift was the largest gift from a living benefactor in the history of higher education.

Dr. Modlin continually served the Richmond and surrounding communities through a number of business and social outlets, including serving on the Board of Directors of C&P Telephone, First Merchants National Bank, Richmond Public Library, Richmond Eye and Ear Hospital, Central Virginia Education Television Corporation, Titmus Foundation, E.R. Patterson Educational Foundation and Agecroft Association. He was a member of the Rotary Club, was on the Advisory Board to Richmond Memorial Hospital, served on the Judicial Inquiry and Review Commission of Virginia and was a Trustee of Collegiate Schools, Richmond. He was also a life trustee of the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges.

Dr. Modlin was co-author of the textbooks Development of Economic Society, 1938 (rev. 1946) and Social Control of Industry, 1938. Dr. Modlin passed in October 1998, was eulogized in the Canon Memorial Chapel and laid to rest beside his wife in Hollywood Cemetery.