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West Virginia State University

West Virginia State University is a historically black public college in Institute, West Virginia, United States. In the Charleston-metro area, the school is usually referred to simply as "State" or "West Virginia State".


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Additional Information

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Black Gold
Mountain East

College History


WVSU is located on Mound Builder Native American land granted to George Washington for his service in the King's Military before the Revolutionary War. As a slave plantation, it belonged to Governor William H. Cabell. His son, Samuel I. Cabell, married one of his slaves, Mary Barnes. After his death she sold the land to the state as the site of the 'West Virginia Colored Institute. Sam and Mary Cabell and their children are buried on the campus. Early history The school was established as the West Virginia Colored Institute in 1891 under the second Morrill Act which provided for land-grant institutions for black students in the 17 states that had segregated schools. Booker T. Washington, noted African American educator and statesman, was instrumental in having the institution located in the Kanawha Valley. Dr. Washington visited the campus often and spoke at its first commencement exercise. From 1891 through 1915, the school provided the equivalent of a high school education, with vocational training and teacher preparation for segregated public schools. Renamed in 1915 as West Virginia Collegiate Institute it began to offer college degrees. It became West Virginia State College in 1929. East Hall and the Canty House, home of "Colonel" James Munroe Canty, were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. During World War II, West Virginia State College was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a Navy commission. Desegregation In 1954, following the Brown decision to desegregate public education, the college transformed from an all-black college with a primarily residential population to a predominantly commuter school with mostly white students. In 2011�2012, WVSU's student population was 61 percent white, 12.5 percent black, 1 percent Asian, 1 percent Hispanic, 0.5 percent American Indian and 24 percent who preferred to not identify race. In 1957, WVSU lost its land grant status, the only land-grant institution to ever do so, in part due to desegregation. Although land-grant university funding is governed by federal laws, the federal aid is conditioned upon matching state funds. The WV State Board of Education voted to end the matching state funds in 1957 and WVSU also lost the federal funds for instruction, research and extension activities. Under the leadership of President Hazo W. Carter, Jr., a 12-year quest was begun to restore the land-grant designation. The first step toward regaining the status came when Gov. Gaston Caperton signed a bill on Feb. 12, 1991 that had been passed by the Legislature to recognize the land-grant status on the state level. With the assistance from WV Senator Robert C. Byrd, the land-grant status was regained in 2000, effective in 2001. WVSU's birthright was restored and is recognized as an 1890 land-grant institution with recognition at the Federal level along with funding to carry out the mission of teaching, research, and public service. The land-grant institution of WVSU is named the Gus R. Douglass Land-Grant Institution.

College Specialty


West Virginia State University offers flexible course schedules in traditional classrooms, in non-traditional settings, and online. With the goal of improving the quality of our students� lives, as well as the quality of life for West Virginia�s citizens, the University forges mutually beneficial relationships with other educational institutions, businesses, cultural organizations, governmental agencies, and agricultural and extension partners. The following values guide our decisions and behavior: academic excellence; academic freedom; advancement of knowledge through teaching, research, scholarship, creative endeavor and community service; a core of student learning that includes effective communication, understanding and analysis of the interconnections of knowledge, and responsibility for one's own learning; lifelong growth, development and achievement of our students; development of human capacities for integrity, compassion and citizenship; our rich and diverse heritage; personal and professional development of our faculty and staff; and accountability through shared responsibility and continuous improvement.



Chu Berry, jazz tenor saxophonist Harriet Elizabeth Byrd, first African-American to serve in the Wyoming Legislature Augusta Clark, librarian, politician and lawyer; second African-American woman to serve on the Philadelphia City Council (1980�2000). Katherine Johnson, African-American scientist, who made significant contributions to America's aeronautics and space exploration for NASA. Herbert Fielding, former South Carolina lawmaker Antoine Fuqua, writer and director of various movies including Training Day, starring Denzel Washington Robert "RJ" Haddy, special effects artist. Damon Keith, Senior Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Earl Lloyd, first African-American to play in the NBA Butch Miles, jazz drummer and a professor in the School of Music at Texas State University-San Marcos Lou Myers, actor and theatrical director, played Vernon Gaines in A Different World Will Robinson, first African-American Division I basketball coach and NFL scout Leander Shaw, first African-American Chief Justice on the Florida Supreme Court Wendell Smith, noted African American sportswriter who was influential in the choice of Jackie Robinson to become the first African American player in Major League Baseball Leon Sullivan - Baptist minister, a civil rights leader and social activist, longtime General Motors board member, and an anti-Apartheid activist Bob Thompson, Jazz pianist and composer