On May 27, 1903, Michigan Governor Aaron T. Bliss signed a bill authorizing the creation of the State's fourth teacher-training facility. The three other normal schools were in Ypsilanti (Eastern), Mount Pleasant (Central), and Marquette (Northern). Kalamazoo was chosen as the new school's location on August 28, 1903. Other locations considered included Allegan, Muskegon, Grand Rapids, Decatur, Three Oaks, and Hastings. The first building, then known as the Administration Building, and now known as East Hall, was constructed in 1904.
The University was first officially known as Western State Normal School, and originally offered a two-year training program. The first principal and president was Dwight B. Waldo, who served from 1904 until 1936. The school was renamed several times throughout its early history, beginning with Western State Teachers College in 1927, Michigan College of Education in 1941, and Western Michigan College in 1955. On February 26, 1957, Governor G. Mennen Williams signed into law a bill making Western Michigan College the state's fourth public university, giving the school its current name of Western Michigan University.