Virginia Dowsing Toliver

Virginia Dowsing Toliver was born in rural Mississippi and, though her parents lived next door, she was raised primarily by her grandmother, who had a second-grade education. After positions at Alcorn State University and University of Southern Mississippi, she was selected for a prestigious Council of Library Resources Academic Library Management Internship and assigned to Washington University in 1981 where she was hired by the Libraries to oversee personnel and budget.

Now Washington University Libraries’ associate dean for administration, Virginia Toliver lives and breathes service. Virginia treats all staff fairly and humanely and gives them opportunities to grow, serving as a counselor, mentor and advisor to many. Virginia has touched the lives of many students through service on the Chancellor’s Roundtable on African American Student Recruitment, the W.E.B. DuBois Awards committee and as a Progress Counselor. Students regularly pop into her office for support or joyously to share an accomplishment.

Virginia‘s compassion for those beyond the university community is equally impressive. She served for many years as an HIV/AIDS support group facilitator, is a life member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and long-time member of the United Way’s Charmaine Chapman Society. She has taken many leadership positions in her local church, Cote Brilliante Presbyterian. She has served the larger church community in many capacities, including as chair of the Presbyterian Church USA National Committee on Self-Development of People—a ministry that funds hundreds of projects around the world to promote human dignity, self-reliance and community growth. Virginia is also active in interfaith efforts in the community and is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Eden Theological Seminary as both the first woman and the first African American to do so.

As her nominator Shirley Baker, Dean of University Libraries, said, “Virginia devotes the majority of her free time to helping others and to community engagement. She is guided by a strong work ethic, determination and a compassion for humankind.”