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West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan College is a regionally accredited private, coeducational, liberal arts college in Buckhannon, West Virginia, United States. It has an enrollment of about 1,400 students from 35 U.S. states and 26 countries.


59 College Ave
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Additional Information

College Type
Religious Affiliation
United Methodist Church
Campus Housing
Application Deadline
March, 1
Black Orange
Mountain East

College History


The mission of West Virginia Wesleyan College is reflected in its name. Its founding in 1890 by the West Virginia Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church climaxed a 16 year effort to establish a center of learning in the then-young state that would reflect the values of the Methodist community, meet the church's need for an educated leadership, and provide an educational resource for the general citizenry of the state and region. Although the founders were always loyal to these principles, the immediate catalyst for the College's establishment was perhaps less lofty: by 1882, Methodists believed they had lost control of West Virginia University in Morgantown, leading to an exodus from the state university of Methodist students who now sought an educational alternative. Originally known as the West Virginia Conference Seminary, the new school opened on Wednesday, September 3, 1890, in a new three-story brick building, located on the present site of the Lynch-Raine Administration Building. The original building was destroyed by a fire on Sunday February 5, 1905. It was replaced the following year by the current structure. In keeping with the tradition of seminaries or academies of the day, it offered largely pre-college instruction. Bennett W. Hutchinson, a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and Boston University School of Theology and an ordained minister, came from Massachusetts to accept the presidency. Mr. Roy Reger of Buckhannon was the first of 201 students to enroll that first year. Agnes Howard Hall, originally designated Ladies Hall, was built in 1895. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. Full-fledged college work was initiated in 1900 and gradually expanded until the first baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 1905. After one year as Wesleyan University of West Virginia, the name was officially changed on Tuesday June 5, 1906 to West Virginia Wesleyan College, in honor of Methodism's founder, John Wesley. Pre-college study continued through 1922-1923, after which it was deemed unnecessary due to the growth of high schools in the state. The early beginnings of the College were modest, and the fledgling school was frequently plagued by debt. The debt became particularly threatening during the Great Depression of the 1930s. But the shortage of fiscal resources never dampened the vision of the college community and its supporters. By 1939, when the three major Methodist bodies united to become the United Methodist Church, leaders of the College dreamed of making Wesleyan the outstanding liberal arts college in the state, a challenging vision for a financially struggling college of fewer than 500 students. 1890 to 1930 Historians of the College credit Thomas W. Haught, an 1894 graduate of the Seminary, 20 year academic dean (1909�1929), long-time faculty member, and three-time acting president, as one of Wesleyan's most influential champions of academic excellence. In addition to strengthening the faculty and the emphasis on academics, he led efforts to achieve initial accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1927. And as early as 1910, the Wesleyan Volunteer Band, followed in 1930 by the Student Volunteer Movement, established a tradition of service among Wesleyan students, concentrating in those early years on foreign missions of the Christian church, but also maintaining strong ties to the local community. 1957 to 1972 The presidency of Dr. Stanley H. Martin (1957�1972) marks the period of the College's most dramatic growth, measured in student enrollments, increased academic stature, and an expanded physical plant. It was largely his vision that gave the campus its present Georgian character. Wesley Chapel, Christopher Hall of Science, the Benedum Campus Center, Jenkins Hall, Doney Hall, Holloway Hall, McCuskey Hall, and the Martin Religious Center express the campus building plan characterized during President Martin's tenure. 1973 to 1976 Following the successful tenure of Martin, John D. Rockefeller IV served as Wesleyan's President from 1973 to 1976. The current gymnasium and athletic center was completed during Rockefeller's tenure. For a period of time, it was referred to on campus as "The New Gym," but was renamed the John D. Rockefeller IV Center after his departure in 1976. Immediately following his tenure at Wesleyan, Rockefeller served as Governor of West Virginia from 1977 to 1985. Rockefeller went on to serve as senator from West Virginia in the United States Senate from 1986 to the present date. He became senior senator from the state upon the passing of West Virginia's long-time senator Robert C. Byrd in June 2010. In 1976, WV Wesleyan alumnus Rev. Ronald E. Sleeth '42 was inaugurated as president of the institution. Sleeth's wife Natalie Sleeth, a prolific composer of sacred choral music, wrote the song Joy in the Morning to commemorate the event. Joy in the Morning was performed at the inauguration by the WVWC Concert Chorale. The anthem was later published, and remains a favorite of many church choirs. President Sleeth retired from the presidency one year later and returned to the Chicago area in order to return to his first loves of teaching and preaching. 1995 to 2006 In 2006, President William Haden retired after eleven years in office. He was the second longest serving President in the history of the college. During his tenure the College completed the most successful capital campaign in its history with $46.4 million in gifts and pledges. The College also significantly upgraded its information technology network and Wesleyan and four other private colleges formed the College Independent Enterprise (ICE) to share a common administrative computing system. President's Haden tenure also had difficult times. During his time in office, Wesleyan accumulated additional debt while faculty salaries were stagnant. His presidency culminated with two no-confidence votes in his administration and, ultimately, the declaration of a financial emergency, which was accompanied by a temporary revocation of all faculty tenure, contributions by the college to pensions, and announcement of a plan to close a number of academic programs. No tenured faculty members were removed from the College during this short period.

College Specialty


West Virginia Wesleyan College challenges its students to a life-long commitment to develop their intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and leadership potential and to set and uphold standards of excellence. Firmly rooted in the liberal arts tradition and closely related to The United Methodist Church, the College is a community of learning based on fundamental principles formed at the intersection of Christian faith and liberal education: intellectual rigor, self-discovery, human dignity, mutual support, social justice, self-discipline, mental and physical wellness, the appreciation of diversity and the natural world, and the judicious use of resources. The College recognizes and affirms its interdependence with the external communities-local, regional, national, and global-and its covenant with the people of West Virginia to share its educational and cultural resources. West Virginia Wesleyan College prepares its students through its curriculum of arts and sciences, preprofessional, professional, and graduate studies, and its rich campus life program. As a residential institution of higher education, the College aspires to graduate broadly educated men and women who: Think critically and creatively, Communicate effectively, Act responsibly, and Demonstrate their local and world citizenship through service.