In Memoriam: Marie Valentine McDemmond, 1946-2022

Marie McDemmond, the first woman to lead historically Black Norfolk State University and the first African-American woman to serve as president of a four-year college in Virginia, died on July 27. She was 76 years old.

Dr. McDemmond was a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana. She held a master’s degree from the University of New Orleans and an educational doctorate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Before being named president of Norfolk State University in 1997, Dr. McDemmond held administrative posts at Emory University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Atlanta University.

After being named president of Norfolk State, Dr. McDemmond learned that the university had a significant budget deficit. She had to make layoffs, raise out-of-state tuition, and reorganized the university’s nine schools into five, setting the university on a course of fiscal responsibility.

President McDemmond visualized a research hub originating on 25 acres at the intersection of Brambleton and Park Avenues and secured funding for the construction of what was initially known as the RISE (Research Innovations to Support Empowerment) Center. The research hub now bears her name as the Marie V. McDemmond Center for Applied Research.

Dr. McDemmond resigned as president of Norfolk State University in 2005, citing poor health.


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