Hampton University was founded in 1868 in the city of Hampton, Virginia with the aim of providing education to former slaves during the early years of the American civil war. As the war raged a camp of newly freed slaves formed near Fort Monroe which was under the control of the Union Army. It was decided that the refugees needed some kind of education and Mary Peake, a free Negro held her first class of around 20 students under an oak tree on September 17 1861. This oak tree became known as Emancipation Oak and still stands on the campus of Hampton University as a symbol of the importance of education for all. A school was opened in 1863 to carry on Mary Peake’s work and over the years that school grew into the thriving higher education institution it is today.
Hampton University is currently home to a few thousand students across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs. Hampton offers around 50 baccalaureates to undergraduate students and over 20 master’s degrees to postgraduates as well as a number of doctoral programs. Studies are split across 11 schools and colleges ranging from Engineering and Technology and Nursing to Education and Human Development and Journalism.
The green, spacious campus is surrounded on three sides by water, giving Hampton its unofficial name ‘Home by the Sea’. The campus stretches along the banks of the Virginia Peninsula near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay.