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James Edwin Campbell
1892 - 1894

The first president was James Edwin Campbell a poet, free-lance writer and mathematician from Pomeroy Ohio. At age 24, he was responsible for starting the new school. With experience in both administration and teaching, he also had a book of poems to his credit. The Campbell Conference Center is named for him.



John H. Hill
1894 - 1898

The second president (1894 - 1898) was John H. Hill, a lawyer, teacher, administrator and soldier,  who oversaw the first commencement.  He resigned to fight in the Spanish-American War and later returned as an instructor.  Hill Hall is named for him.


James McHenry Jones
1898 - 1908

James McHenry Jones was the third president (1898 – 1909).  He is responsible for adding a "normal" department.  Mr. Jones is buried in the cemetery near the Rehabilitation Center on Barron Drive.  Jones Hall is named for him.


Byrd Prillerman
1909 - 1919

Byrd Prillerman, a faculty member and one of those responsible for having the land-grant school located in the Kanawha Valley, was the fourth president.  During his tenure, academic programs were expanded and the institution was given a new name “The West Virginia Collegiate Institute.”  Prillerman Hall is named for him.



John W. Davis
1919 - 1953

John Warren Davis was the fifth president (1919 – 1953).  He focused on recruiting the best black faculty members he could find and developing the curriculum.  He persuaded noted historian, Carter G. Woodson, to assist him as Academic Dean.  During his tenure the school was first accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1927.  The name became West Virginia State College in 1929. Davis is the longest-serving president.  Davis Fine Arts Building is named for him.

  William J.L. Wallace
1953 - 1973

The sixth president was William James Lord Wallace (1953 – 1973).  The greatest challenge of his presidency came following U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling, Brown v. Board of Education, which declared segregated schools to be unconstitutional.  Following that, the historically black West Virginia State College opened its doors to all students.  Dr. Wallace not only met the challenge but set an example for the world to follow.  The ease with which the College was integrated gave rise to the motto, “A Living Laboratory of Human Relations.”  Wallace Hall is named for him.

  Harold M. McNeil
1973 - 1981

Harold M. McNeill served as the seventh president from 1973 to 1981. During  his tenure, the community college component was established; a building was erected for community college programs; and Ferrell Hall and the Drain-Jordan Library were renovated.   The McNeill Physical Facilities Building is named for him.

  Thomas W. Cole, Jr.
1982 - 1986

The eighth president was Thomas W. Cole, Jr. (1982 – 1986).  During his administration Dr. Cole made several organizational changes in the institution creating new academic divisions and establishing a planning and advancement unit.  Dr. Cole left West Virginia State in 1986 to become Chancellor of the West Virginia Board of Regents. The Cole Complex is named for him.

Dr. Hazo W. Carter, Jr. (1987 - 2012)

Shortly after he became the ninth president in September 1987 Dr. Hazo W. Carter,Jr began a what would be a 12-year quest to regain the College’s land-grant status that had been transferred in the 1950s. Since "State" was the only institution to have the status removed, there was no precedent for recovering it. By the year 2000, West Virginia State was once again recognized on both the state and federal levels as an 1890 land-grant institution with accompanying funding to carry out its mission.

With the birthright land-grant status restored , the quest began for West Virginia State to be designated a university. West Virginia State University became a reality in 2004. These achievements, accompanied by two highly successful accreditations by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the addition of graduate programs highlight his administration.

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