West Virginia State University

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West Virginia State University
West Virginia State University seal.png
Motto A Living Laboratory of Human Relations
Established 1891
Type Public, Land-grant, HBCU
Endowment $3.2 million[1]
President Brian O'Harold Hemphill
Students 2,847 Fall 2014[2]
Undergraduates 2,792
Postgraduates 55
Location Institute, West Virginia, United States
38°22′57″N 81°45′56″W / 38.38250°N 81.76556°W / 38.38250; -81.76556Coordinates: 38°22′57″N 81°45′56″W / 38.38250°N 81.76556°W / 38.38250; -81.76556
Campus Suburban
Former names West Virginia Colored Institute
West Virginia Collegiate Institute
West Virginia State College
Colors Black and Gold
Athletics NCAA Division II
Sports Men:
Football, Baseball, Basketball, Golf, and Tennis
Basketball, Golf, Softball, Tennis, and Volleyball
Nickname Yellow Jackets
Affiliations Mountain East Conference
Website www.wvstateu.edu

West Virginia State University (WVSU) is a historically black public university in Institute, West Virginia, United States. In the Charleston-metro area, the school is usually referred to simply as "State" or "West Virginia State". It is one of the original 1890 Land-Grant colleges and the smallest land-grant institution in the country. The University is a member-school of Thurgood Marshall College Fund.


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[edit]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5]


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.

University status[edit]

In 2003 the school's community college, established in 1953, was separately accredited as the West Virginia State Community and Technical College but remained administratively linked to West Virginia State College. In 2004, West Virginia State College gained university status, becoming West Virginia State University and began to offer graduate degrees in Biotechnology and Media Studies. In the fall of 2011, WVSU began to offer a graduate degree in Law Enforcement.[6] Beginning in the spring of 2014, WVSU will offer a graduate degree in Education.[7]

In 2008, the legislature fully separated the community and technical college. However, both schools continued to share the same campus. In 2009, the Community and Technical College went through a name change. The new name was announced on April 20, 2009, as Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College. In the fall of 2012, KVCTC moved to its new location where the former Dow Chemical research facility is located in South Charleston, West Virginia. Kanawha Valley is now merged with Bridgemont Community and Technical College as BridgeValley Community and Technical College.


Brian O'Harold Hemphill is the tenth president of West Virginia State University. Hazo W. Carter, Jr. was the university's ninth president and first to serve under the "university" status.

In August 2011, the faculty, by majority (67 to 19), voted "no confidence in [Carter's] leadership" and as such, President Carter retired on June 30, 2012.[8] After a recommendation to the WV Higher Education Policy Commission by the WVSU Board of Governor's to amend Carter's contract, Carter was to remain at the school until June 30, 2014, as president emeritus. Chancellor of the HEPC Brian Noland noted that "this concept of president emeritus [was] extremely fitting given President Carter's more than 20 years of service" and that it was "extremely well deserved." Under his new role, Carter helped the university fund raise, acted as a spokesman, and helped ease the transition for the university's new president.[9] This role was cut a few months short, however, when Carter passed away in February 2014, one month after his wife, Judge Phyllis H. Carter, passed away.[10]

The Board of Governors finalized the makeup of the presidential search committee in January 2012 to find a new president to lead the school by July 2012. On May 9, 2012, as the unanimous choice, the WVSU Board of Governors offered Brian O. Hemphill the position of president to which he accepted.[11] The WV Higher Education Policy Commission approved Hemphill on May 18, 2012. He became the university’s tenth president on July 1, 2012,[12] and he was inaugurated on September 21, 2013.[13]

Past presidents of the university include James Edwin Campbell (1892–94), John H. Hill (1894–98), James McHenry Jones (1898–1909), Byrd Prillerman (1909–19), John W. Davis (1919–53), William J.L. Wallace (1953–73), Harold M. McNeill (1973–81), Thomas Winston Cole, Jr. (1982–86), and Hazo W. Carter, Jr. (1986–2012). Several buildings on campus are named after the past presidents (Campbell Conference Center, Hill Hall, Jones Hall, Prillerman Hall, Davis Fine Arts Building, Wallace Hall, McNeill Facilities Building, and Cole Complex). John W. Davis is the longest serving president in the university's history, having served for 34 years.[14]


On October 19, 2009, West Virginia State University dedicated a monument to the memory of noted African American educator and statesman Booker T. Washington. The event took place at West Virginia State University's Booker T. Washington Park in Malden, West Virginia. The monument also honors the families of African ancestry who lived in Old Malden in the early 20th Century and who knew and encouraged Booker T. Washington. Special guest speakers at the event included West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, Malden attorney Larry L. Rowe, and the president of WVSU. Musical selections were provided by the WVSU Marching Yellow Jackets.[15]

February 24, 2010, was named WVSU Day by the West Virginia legislature. President Hazo W. Carter, Jr. and other WVSU officials were on hand to witness the declaration. WVSU Gus R. Douglass Land-Grant Institute extension agents and staff members presented various demonstrations and interactive displays throughout the day with a performance by the WVSU Jazz Band.[16]

In October 2011, Sandra Orr, professor and Chair of WVSU's Department of Education, was listed as one of the 50 most influential professors in education on the website, Masters In Education.[17]

West Virginia State University and the Herbert Henderson Office of Minority Affairs partnered to sponsor a ceremony on August 28, 2013, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, D.C. and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. The "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony was held at the West Virginia State Capitol building. The WVSU Jazz Ensemble provided musical selections. The event was part of a nationwide celebration brought about by The King Center, in which every state was asked to join in a bell-ringing commemoration at 3 p.m. to pay tribute to the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. This demonstration was the largest ever seen in Washington, D.C., attended by an estimated 250,000 people, and was the venue where Dr. King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.[18]

On November 11, 2013, WVSU received a national award for alumni engagement during the Association for Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) annual conference in Washington, D.C. WVSU received the award during the inaugural 1890 Land-Grant Universities Teaching, Research and Innovation Awards. Under the criteria of this award, the institution demonstrated significant growth in the number of alumni engaged when compared to other land-grant colleges and universities. WVSU is one of 18 land-grant universities founded by the Second Morrill Act of 1890 that were eligible to compete in the awards ceremony.[19]

WVSU's Fall and Spring Commencement Ceremonies were held in December and May, respectively, at the Charleston Civic Center in Charleston. Until 2009, WVSU and WVSCTC had joint commencement ceremonies. To cut back on spending, WVSU now holds its commencement ceremonies on campus. Until the completion of the new convocation center, the December commencement was held in the P.A. Williams Auditorium of Ferrell Hall, while the May commencement was either on the large lawn in the center of campus (also called the quad), or in the P.A. Williams Auditorium, pending weather. Commencements are now held in the D. Stephen and Diane H. Walker Convocation Center (Walker Convocation Center for short), a new addition/renovation to Fleming Hall. The Spring 2014 commencement was the first commencement held in the Walker Convocation Center.

Student activities[edit]

The Yellow Jacket, the mascot of West Virginia State University.


The athletic teams are known as the Yellow Jackets. WVSU athletic teams include men's football, baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis, and women's basketball, golf, softball, tennis, and volleyball. During the segregation era, the school competed in athletics as "West Virginia" and played other segregated schools as a member of the Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association. After desegregation, the school withdrew from the CIAA (today's Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) and competed as "West Virginia State" to avoid confusion with West Virginia University. The school then moved to the formerly all-white West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which competed in the NCAA's Division II. After the dissolution of the WVIAC, WVSU joined the new Mountain East Conference in 2013, which is part of the NCAA Division II.

During the segregation era, black high schools were barred from competition in the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, and State therefore sponsored an unofficial "state colored championship" from 1932 to 1959.


Instrumental ensembles[edit]

In the mid-late 1990s, the band saw a period of resurgence under the direction of Chris Card. From 1995 until 2000, the band had an enrollment of between 35-50 members. Many of the members during this time period were scholarship recipients, and the band often contained 5-10 veterans or active members of Drum Corps International. The band was known for its small size and huge sound. The band marches in a "corps-style" fashion, the only band of its type at an HBCU, as most have a "show-style" band.

Since 2006, the Yellow Jackets Marching Band, known as the "Marching Swarm", has broken enrollment records by over 800% under the direction of Mr. Scott E. Woodard. Mr. Woodard has been the Director of Bands since 2006 and as of 2010, the Chair of the Music Department of WVSU. As of the fall of 2013, he is serving as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. When he became the Director of Bands, only 7 students were enrolled. The band tries to do a different marching show at every home football game, with the exception of homecoming as half-time is taken up by the presentation of the homecoming court and a short speech by the president.

The marching band performs in one parade unless invited to others: the WVSU Homecoming Parade. The band has also played for the president's "State of the University Address" and for WVSU's ROTC Hall of Fame Ceremony (in 2011, they played for the Founder's Day ceremony). They have served as the exhibition band at high school marching band festivals, including Nicholas County's Mountain Band Spectacular (2008–2010), Poca High School's Invitational Festival in Poca, WV (2009–2013), and the 2013 WV Marching Band Invitational. On October 12, 2013, WVSU, in co-sponsorship with the St. Albans High School Music Department, hosted the first annual Cavalcade of Bands Southwest Regional Band Festival; a first for the school. In 2008, the band was invited to go to Chicago with the football team for the Chicago Football Classic to participate in the Battle of the Bands competition; the only competition the band has participated in.

The Symphonic Wind Ensemble takes place during the last month of the Fall Semester and the entire Spring Semester. The Wind Ensemble performs a concert at the end of the Fall Semester and two during the Spring Semester. Students of the Advanced Conducting studio may also conduct on a concert. The Advanced Conducting studio is a unique feature of WVSU as not many colleges offer it at the undergraduate level. The Wind Ensemble may also play at WVSU's commencement ceremonies. Beginning in the fall of 2013, WVSU now offers a chamber orchestra, named the Charleston Chamber Orchestra.

The Jazz Ensemble is one of the most visible groups performing for various events on and off campus. In November 2007, the WVSU Jazz Ensemble traveled to Austria to perform in Vienna, Graz, and Salzburg. On April 12 and 13, 2012, the Jazz Ensemble played two concerts for Washington, D.C.'s 150th Emancipation Day celebrations at the Lincoln Theatre. The April 12 concert featured the WVSU Jazz Ensemble and saxophonist Brian Lenair[20] and the April 13 concert again featured the WVSU Jazz Ensemble and Brian Lenair, but also featured a comedy show by famed comedian, Dick Gregory.[21] The Jazz Ensemble returned the following year to perform for the 151st Anniversary on April 16 at Freedom Plaza. The Jazz Ensemble, along with the Concert Choir, will perform at The Greenbrier on November 22, 2013, as part of the West Virginia Reading Association (WVRA) conference.[22]

Other instrumental groups at WVSU include the Brass Ensemble, Guitar Ensemble, Percussion Ensemble, and Woodwind Ensemble. In addition, WVSU is home to the community group, the Mountain State Brass Band, also under the direction of Mr. Scott Woodard.

Vocal ensembles[edit]

In addition to the instrumental ensembles, WVSU also features the WVSU Concert Choir, the "State" Singers, a female vocal ensemble, and a male vocal ensemble. The State Singers consists of eight to ten vocalists with a required audition. The State Singers also perform as the WVSU Vocal Jazz Choir. The State Singers act as ambassadors for the University and frequently perform off campus for important community and cultural events. Every spring, the State Singers go on tour. Recent tours have taken the group to Cleveland, Ohio, Virginia Beach, St. Louis, Missouri, and New York City. On April 13 and 14, 2012, the Concert Choir had the unique opportunity of singing the music of "Queen" with the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The Concert Choir again sang with the WVSO for the symphony's 2012 holiday concerts, and will again sing for the 2013 holiday concerts. Dr. Dirk Johnson is the Director of Choral Activities for WVSU and has been at that position since the fall of 2009.

Student life[edit]

Many of the students who live in dorms on campus are from large urban areas outside of West Virginia or from the rural counties in the state. Those who stay on campus generally congregate at Wilson Student Union.

Greek life[edit]

Student media[edit]

The campus radio station at WVSU can be heard locally on 106.7 FM or over the internet. The station has hosted live music and interviews with recording artists. The campus newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, is published and edited by students and can be picked up in major buildings across the campus.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  2. ^ As of September 4, 2014. "West Virginia State University Announces Increased Enrollment for Fall 2014". (Press Release) West Virginia State University. Retrieved October 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Booker T. Washington Monument To Be Dedicated In Malden". WVSU. 
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09. 
  5. ^ Louis E., Keefer (1994). "On the Homefront in World War II: Soldier-Scholars at West Virginia State College, Volume 53". West Virginia Division of Culture and History, pp. 119-132. Retrieved September 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ White, Davin (2011-03-16). "WVSU to offer new law enforcement master's degree". Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2012-07-01. 
  7. ^ "WVSU to Offer New Master of Education Degree Beginning Spring 2014" (Press release). West Virginia State University. September 17, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/WVSU_President_Confident_that_No_Confidence_Vote_Wont_Impact_his_Job_127791363.html
  9. ^ Harris, Amy Julia (2011-12-29). "Carter to stay at WVSU until 2014, receive full pay". Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2012-01-02. 
  10. ^ Wire Reports (February 18, 2014). "Former West Virginia State President Hazo Carter Dies". HBCU Digest. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ Dickinson, Pat (2012-05-09). "HEMPHILL OFFERED PRESIDENCY". WVSU. Retrieved 202-05-09.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. ^ Burdette, Whitney (2012-05-24). "WV State introduces new president to campus". The State Journal. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  13. ^ "Dr. Brian O. Hemphill to be Inaugurated as WVSU President Sept. 21" (Press release). West Virginia State University. September 9, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  14. ^ "History and Past Presidents". West Virginia State University. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  15. ^ White, Davin (2009-10-19). "Booker T. Washington monument unveiled". Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  16. ^ "WVSU Day at the Legislature February 24". West Virginia State University. Retrieved 2010-02-19. 
  17. ^ Simmons, Bethany (2011-10-20). "WVSU Instructor Makes Nationwide List Of Most Influential Professors". WCHS-TV. Retrieved 2012-06-26. 
  18. ^ "WVSU to Help Mark 50th Anniversary of March on Washington" (Press release). West Virginia State University. August 22, 2013. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  19. ^ "West Virginia State University Receives National Award for Alumni Engagement" (Press release). West Virginia State University. November 13, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  20. ^ "DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Concert at the Lincoln Theater". 
  21. ^ "DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Jazz and Comedy Concert at the Lincoln Theater". 
  22. ^ "Alumnus to Deliver Keynote Address at Reading Association Annual Conference Nov. 21-22" (Press release). West Virginia State University. November 11, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2013. 
  23. ^ "Former Philly Councilwoman Augusta Clark Dies at 81". WCAU. 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-11-23. 

External links[edit]