Wheeling Jesuit University

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Coordinates: 40°04′23″N 80°41′22″W / 40.073076°N 80.689527°W / 40.073076; -80.689527

Wheeling Jesuit University
Latin: Universitas Jesuita Vhelingensis
Former names
Wheeling College (1954-1987)
Wheeling Jesuit College (1987–1996)
Motto Luceat Lux Vestra (Latin)
Motto in English
Let your light shine
Type Private Nonprofit
Research Coeducational
Established 1954
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Endowment US $16.1 million[1]
President Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J., Ph.D.
Academic staff
Students 1,575 (Fall 2014)[2]
Undergraduates 1,187
Postgraduates 388
Location Wheeling, West Virginia, USA
Campus 65 acres (26.3 ha)
Newspaper Cardinal Connection
Colors Red Black Gold
     --      --     
Athletics NCAA Division II - MEC
Sports 21 varsity sports teams[3]
(11 men's and 10 women's)
Nickname Cardinals
Mascot Iggy the Cardinal
Affiliations AJCU ACCU
Website www.wju.edu
New Wheeling Jesuit logo.jpg

Wheeling Jesuit University is a private, coeducational Roman Catholic university in the United States. Located in Wheeling, West Virginia, it was founded as Wheeling College in 1954 by the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits). Today, Wheeling Jesuit University is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Approximately 1,173 undergraduate students attend the university.[4] WJU competes in Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a member of the Mountain East Conference (MEC).


The seeds of WJU's founding were planted as early as the 19th century. Bishop Richard Whelan, leader of the Diocese of Wheeling, lobbied the Society of Jesus to establish a university in the burgeoning city. Over a century later, Whelan's original vision came to fruition. After a donor, Sara Tracy, left her estate to the diocese, it was able to purchase land from the neighboring Mt. De Chantal Visitation Academy.[5]

Wheeling Jesuit University, then Wheeling College, was founded through a partnership of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston with the Maryland Society of Jesus. Ground was broken on November 24, 1953, and the college was officially incorporated on September 25, 1954, but didn't open to students for another year on September 26, 1955. The establishment of the college required $2.75 million in start-up costs.[6] Overcoming the difficulties of temporary facilities and a faculty of just twelve Jesuit priests and four lay professors, the school grew considerably.

For the 1987–1988 school year, the university became Wheeling Jesuit College, and in July 1996, gained university status.[7]

In March 2013, the university announced the selection of Fr. James Fleming as its tenth president. Fleming took office effective July 1, 2013.[8]

List of Wheeling Jesuit University Presidents[edit]

  • Very Rev. Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J., 1954-1959
  • Rev. William F. Troy, S.J., 1959-1966
  • Rev. Frank R. Haig, S.J., 1966-1972[9]
  • Rev. Charles L. Currie Jr., S.J., 1972-1982
  • Rev. Thomas S. Acker, S.J., 1982-2000[10][11]
  • Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J., 2000-2003
  • Rev. Joseph R. Hacala, S.J., 2003-2006
  • James F. Birge, Ph.D. (interim), 2006-2007[12]
  • Rev. Julio Giulietti, S.J., 2007-2009[13][14]
  • J. Davitt McAteer (acting), 2009–2010[14]
  • Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill (interim), 2010 [14][15]
  • Richard A. Beyer – 2011-2013
  • Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J., 2013—present[16]


The Jesuit community is active in the process of education. In addition, the Jesuits are involved in many other academic works, such as the Appalachian Institute on Campus.[17] Members of Wheeling's Jesuit Community reside at Whelan Hall, dedicated in 1955.[18] The Jesuit community and tradition for critical thinking are reflected in the school's curriculum and mission.[19] Wheeling Jesuit University is one of 28 Jesuit institutions.[20]

Admissions and rankings[edit]

According to the WJU's page on the U-CAN Network,[21] the average high school GPA of the freshman class is a 3.5[22] The school is given a selectivity score of 81 out of 100 by the Princeton Review. In 1997, WJU was named as the fourth best educational value in the southeast, and the 15th best college in the region.[23] In addition, the school is ranked as the 18th best masters university in the south by U.S. News and World Report.[24] The most recent Forbes magazine rankings placed WJU 180 out of 600 colleges,[25] a marked improvement from their No. 437 rank in 2008.[26] Forbes also ranked the university as the 79th best value in America.[27] The university is ranked among the John Templeton Foundation's Colleges that Encourage Character Development.[28] According to the foundation, such universities "inspire students to lead ethical and civic-minded lives".


In honor of former WJU professor Fr. Stephen J. Laut, S.J., the university offers the Laut Honors Program. Throughout each school year, members of the program meet to discuss and study material related to that year's theme. At the conclusion of a student's sophomore year, students who have successfully completed the Laut program are invited to join the Ignatian Honors Seminar, a more rigorous program for which only six juniors and six seniors are selected.[29]

Wheeling Jesuit encourages all students to become actively involved in research in their desired fields. In many fields, seniors are required to complete a thesis or capstone project. In addition, students are actively encouraged to participate in the annual Student Research and Scholarship Symposium, in which students present research done over the past academic year.[30]

To aid students in their studies, the university offers extensive tutoring services through its Academic Resource Center ("the ARC"). The center, located in Ignatius Hall, offers tutoring for most classes, and provides writing tutors as well.[31]

Graduate Programs[edit]

WJU's Center for Professional and Graduate Studies offers five graduate programs, a Master of Business Administration; Master of Accountancy; Master of Science in Nursing; Master of Science in Organizational Leadership; and a Doctor of Physical Therapy.[32]

The Center for Professional and Graduate Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership and Development (BOLD) and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL). These are adult education programs that meet once a week in the evening.

Clifford M. Lewis, S.J. Appalachian Institute[edit]

The Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University describes its mission as, "to serve as a center of research and analysis, education and action attuned always to the struggles and dreams of the Appalachian people."[33] The institute focuses on issues such as Appalachian health, hope, education, economic development, and coal impoundment, and has conducted research and produced exhibits regarding this issues.

In 2010, the university hosted the Ignatian Solidarity Network Spring Teach-In, which focused on issues of environmental sustainability and stewardship.[34] In September 2010, the Appalachian Institute held its second annual Appalachian Film Festival.[35]

The Institute for the Study of Capitalism and Morality[edit]

As a result of a donation from BB&T, WJU in 2006 became home to the Institute for the Study of Capitalism and Morality. According to its website, the Institute desires to study the roles of capitalism in a free society. The institute also promotes research and essay competitions, forums and debates, and a lecture series. Lecturers for the 2007–2008 school year included Thomas Woods and Doug Bandow.[36] In 2011, the ISCM welcomed former BB&T CEO John A. Allison IV to campus.[37]

Academic Facilities[edit]

WJU's Donahue Hall

Acker Science Center[38][edit]

Named for the school's former president Rev. Fr. Thomas S. Acker, S.J.,[39] the center was built in 2002. It is home to classrooms and labs.

Donahue Hall[edit]

The oldest academic building on campus, Donahue Hall was constructed in 1955 and was renovated in 1988.[40] Donahue holds faculty offices, labs, and classrooms.[41] The hall is connected to the Acker Science Center via the "Acker bridge."

Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music[edit]

The former adjacent girl's academy, Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy ceased operations in August 2010 and the Sisters of the Visitation who ran the school since its inception moved to the monastery at Georgetown Visitation Academy in Washington DC.[42] Wishing to see the Mount's legacy continued, the sisters gifted a large sum of money to establish and fund a Conservatory of Music at WJU.[43]

Thus the Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music came to be in the lower floor of the university's CET building. The Conservatory features an elegant recital hall, practice rooms, a parlor for students and visitors, and a gallery displaying art, antiques and archival materials from Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy.[44] Each year, one incoming female freshman receives a $10,000 Mount de Chantal Scholarship, renewable annually, through the Mount de Chantal Fine Arts Education Fund.[45]

In the Fall of 2013, Wheeling Jesuit University expanded its physical therapy doctoral program into downtown Wheeling, WV where it offers a free physical therapy clinic.[46]


Wheeling Jesuit currently supports 20 NCAA Division II sports, including: Women's volleyball, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's golf, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field, men's and women's swimming, men's and women's basketball, men's wrestling, men's and women's lacrosse, softball, and baseball. The Cardinals also have D1A men's rugby.

The university's home indoor athletic events for volleyball, basketball, wrestling and swimming are held in WJU's state of the art McDonough Center.[47] WJU's soccer and lacrosse teams play on the turfed Bishop Schmitt Field. The Cardinals baseball and softball teams call the J.B. Chambers Complex located off campus located along I-470 as their home fields.

Wheeling Jesuit University competes in NCAA Division II as part of the Mountain East Conference (MEC) as one of the four-year conference's founding members. Prior to the MEC, the Cardinals played in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) from 1957 to 2013.

Campus life[edit]

Wheeling Jesuit University's campus features fifteen buildings,[48] six of which are residence halls.[49]

Residence life[edit]

Looking toward Campion and McHugh Residence Halls on WJU's campus

The university has seven residence halls under its jurisdiction.

  • Campion – Housing for male freshman and upperclassmen students with 1 floor for female students
  • McHugh – Housing for male freshman students
  • Ignatius – Upgraded co-ed housing for upperclass students, featuring an "Ace Floor" for approved, academically achieved students with around-the-clock quiet hours
  • Kirby – Upgraded housing for female students, occasionally freshmen
  • Sara Tracy – Housing for female freshman students
  • Thomas More – Co-ed housing for upperclass students in the format of quads
  • Steenrod – Apartment housing for graduate students, off the main campus but on University-owned property across Washington Avenue.
  • Cardinal Commons - Opened in 2014. Located on Washington Avenue, 36-unit apartment style building. Part of a public-private partnership. The university does not own the building, but WJU students are the only tenants.

Campion/McHugh Halls[edit]

Campion and McHugh Halls host most of the male students on campus. Campion is adjacent to McHugh and connected via a common stairwell. The halls share a common lounge, kitchenette, and study area. Rooms in each measure 15'5" W by 10'10" L.[50] Despite these similarities, the halls can be differentiated by the fact that Campion is air conditioned, while McHugh is not.[51] In addition, McHugh is three years older than Campion, having been dedicated in 1959,[52] while Campion was dedicated in 1962.[53]

Ignatius Hall[edit]

Ignatius Hall, dedicated in 1993,[54] is a co-educational residence hall for Upperclass students. Rooms are air-conditioned, and have private bathrooms. Each residence floor has laundry facilities and TV lounges, and each room is 12'8" W by 25' L.[55] The hall is named after St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

Kirby Hall/Sara Tracy Hall[edit]

Dedicated in 2000, Kirby hall is one of the most recently built Halls on campus. The Hall houses 64 female students in 32 rooms. Each room has a bathroom, and the hall itself has a kitchen, laundry room, and lounge.[56]

Sara Tracy Hall, dedicated in 1959,[57] is a residence hall for female freshmen. The hall is divided into smaller hallways, all of which share common laundry facilities. The hall provides quick access to facilities, such as the Chapel of Mary and Joseph, the Mailroom, and the cafeteria.[58]

Thomas More[edit]

Opened in April, 1968. Thomas More houses upperclass students. Thomas More is a themed housing co-ed residential facility. Each quad is responsible for one social event a year that relates to the quad's theme. Rooms are divided into "quads." Each quad houses four, six, or eight students, and has three bedrooms, a lounge, and one bathroom. Residents are responsible for cleaning their own bathrooms. Inspections are done doing various university breaks.

A typical floor has four quads, and a community lounge. Laundry rooms are located on the first, second, third, and fourth floors. Telephone and Cable TV is provided. Thomas More resident assistants work to create a sense of community on their floor and in the building.[59]

Commitment to Social Justice[edit]

As part of the Jesuit philosophy, Wheeling Jesuit University prides itself on its commitment to community involvement and social justice. The Service for Social Action Center (SSAC) coordinates such programs. Arrupe Scholars (named for Pedro Arrupe) receive additional financial aid for completing at least 66 hours of community service a year.[60] Students are also afforded the option of living at Mother Jones house, a house in downtown Wheeling for students especially motivated for community work. The school is also home to other clubs and organizations promoting this message.[61]

Student Organizations and Publications[edit]

Student Government[edit]

WJU's Student Government Association offices are located in Swint Hall. The Student Government Association is the elected voice of WJU students. The Wheeling Jesuit SGA consists of two branches: the Executive Board ("E-Board") and the Student Senate. The E-Board consists of a President and Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Student Advocate, Social Affairs Representative, Academic Affairs Representative, and Academic Affairs Representative.[62] The Student Senate is composed of at-large representatives, class officers, and a commuter representative.[63]


Wheeling Jesuit University students are given an array of opportunities for campus involvement. Student Government and the Campus Activities Board plan activities each year, in addition to those already put on by clubs. While many of the clubs are service-oriented in nature, there are also political, artistic, and major-related organizations.[64]

  • Adventure Society
  • Appalachian Experience Club
  • Campus Activities Board
  • Circle K International
  • Computer Club
  • Criminal Justice Club
  • French Club
  • HESS (Help Enrich Someone Special) Mentoring
  • History Club
  • International Student Club
  • JAPOT (Justice and Peace in Our Times)
  • Music Ministry
  • OASIS (Open and Aware Students Helping Other Students)
  • Philosophy Club (Sense and Nonsense)
  • Political Science Club
  • Psychology Club/Psi Chi
  • Spanish Club
  • Students for Life
  • SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise)
  • Student Leaders Across Campus
  • Student Nurses Association
  • Theatre Guild
  • WJU Chamber Singers


Campus Traditions[edit]

Culture Fest[edit]

Each spring Wheeling Jesuit's International Student club sponsors a festival celebrating the cultural diversity of WJU. The activities included samples of ethnic food as well as music and demonstrations from students' native countries.[65]

Last Blast[edit]

"Last Blast" is held at the end of every school year. The events include a concert, a formal dance, a carnival held outside of Donahue Hall, and a raft race down Wheeling Creek.[66] Some of the artists at past Last Blast concerts include Andy Grammer and Punchline.

Jesuit Idol[edit]

Jesuit Idol is an annual talent competition modeled after American Idol and held every spring semester. Contestants sing before a live audience and a panel of judges, and are eliminated in a series of themed rounds. The winner is awarded a cash prize. The event is streamed online.[67]


Notable Alumni[edit]

Faculty and Staff[edit]

  • Rev. Fr. Joseph P. Sanders, S.J., professor emeritus of sociology
  • Rev. Fr. James A. O'Brien, S.J., professor emeritus of philosophy
  • Paul A. Orr, Ph.D., professor emeritus of English (1956–96)
  • Bonnie B. Thurston, former professor of religious studies
  • Normand J. Paulhus, professor emeritus of religious studies
  • Thomas G. Wack, professor emeritus of English
  • J. Donald Freeze, S.J., former philosophy professor and Academic Vice President of Georgetown University
  • Msgr. Alfred Jolson, S.J., former business professor and Bishop of Reykjavík [86]
  • Jim O'Brien, former head basketball coach, current Indiana Pacers coach
  • Judson Shaver, former religious studies professor, current president of Marymount Manhattan College[87]
  • Fr. Michael F. Steltenkamp, S.J., professor of theology, author, Nicholas Black Elk: Medicine Man, Missionary, Mystic,[88] Black Elk: Holy Man of the Oglala, and The Sacred Vision: Native American Religion and Its Practice Today.
  • Edward W. Younkins, professor of accountancy and business administration, author[89][90]


Challenger Learning Center[edit]

The Challenger Learning Center [91] at WJU is one of 43 such centers worldwide. It offers several educational programs to middle and high school students. One of the more notable is a Space Shuttle simulation where "participants serve on one of eight teams in mission control or on the space station. Merging the power of imagination with the excitement of discovery, students become engineers and scientists as they simulate a space mission. The experience provides students along with teachers and adult learners with simulations that emphasize teamwork, problem-solving, decision-making and communication skills."[92]

The CLC’s Micronauts program offers space adventure learning experiences to students in grades K-3. CLC’s e-Missions are simulated, problem-based, learning adventures delivered to students anywhere in the world via distance learning technology. A Flight Director at Mission Control from the CLC remotely conducts live scenarios in a classroom anywhere via the Internet and videoconferencing. CLC’s e-Labs are virtual and interactive lessons in various science subjects, such as physical science, chemistry, life science, and Earth science. During an e-Lab scientists perform experiments and demonstrations, guide students through difficult concepts, while asking and answering questions. [93]

Federal grant fraud claim and settlement[edit]

In 2012, University leadership was accused by the federal government of misappropriating NASA grant money received for sponsored programs; Wheeling Jesuit settled with the federal government in 2015, paying $2.3 million in restitution.[94] Wheeling Jesuit University issued this statement regarding the settlement: "The allegations leading to the settlement arose from highly complex and divergent provisions of the federal regulations governing the cost principles applicable to federal grants. In good faith and with complete and steadfast disclosure to the federal government, the University had used the same costing practices in its financial management of federal grants since 1998. The regulations at issue have since been replaced in their entirety by simplified rules." [95]


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