Our History Runs Deep
West Virginia State University was founded under the provisions of the Second Morrill Act of 1890 as the West Virginia Colored Institute, one of 19 land-grant institutions authorized by Congress and designated by the states to provide for the education of black citizens in agriculture and the mechanical arts. West Virginia was one of the states that maintained segregated educational systems at that time.
From 1891 to 1915, the original Institute offered the equivalent of a high school education, vocational training, and teacher preparation. In 1915, the West Virginia Collegiate Institute began to offer college degrees. Under the leadership of President John W. Davis, the academic program was expanded and new buildings were constructed, and in 1927, the Institution was accredited by the North Central Association; in 1929, it became West Virginia State College. Over the next decades, WVSC became recognized as one of the leading public institutions of higher education for African-Americans.
In 1954, the United States Supreme Court gave its historic decision outlawing school segregation. The consequence of this decision for West Virginia State College was a rapid transition to an integrated institution serving a predominantly white, commuting, and older student population. Enrollment quadrupled during the following decades.
Meanwhile, by a decision of the West Virginia Board of Education, WVSC was compelled to surrender land-grant status, the only one of the 1890 institutions to do so. Only after a 12-year effort was the college's land-grant status fully restored, in 2001 by an act of Congress.
In 2004, the West Virginia Legislature approved WVSC's transition to University status, and today WVSU offers 23 bachelor's degrees and six master's degrees. With a rich history, and promising future, WVSU is positioned to become the most student-centered research and teaching, land-grant university in West Virginia, and beyond.