West Virginia State University
MottoA Living Laboratory of Human Relations
TypePublic, Land-grant, HBCU
Endowment$3.2 million[1]
PresidentBrian O'Harold Hemphill (President)
Students2,644 Fall 2012
LocationInstitute, West Virginia, United States
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Former namesWest Virginia Colored Institute
West Virginia Collegiate Institute
West Virginia State College
ColorsBlack and Gold
AthleticsNCAA Division II
Football, Baseball, Basketball, Golf, and Tennis
Basketball, Golf, Softball, Tennis, and Volleyball
Nickname"State" or "West Virginia State"
MascotYellow Jackets
AffiliationsWest Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

West Virginia State University (WVSU) 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". 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 Cabbel. His son, Sam Cabbel, 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 Cabbel and their children are buried on the campus.

Early historyEdit

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]


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 birth right 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 statusEdit

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.[4]

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.


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

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.[5] After a recommendation to the WV Higher Education Policy Commission by the WVSU Board of Governor's to amend Carter's contract, Carter will remain at the school until June 30, 2014 as president emeritus. Chancellor of the HEPC Brian Noland noted that "this concept of president emeritus is extremely fitting given President Carter's more than 20 years of service" and that it's "extremely well-deserved." Under his new role, Carter will help the university fundraise, act as a spokesman, and help ease the transition for the university's new president.[6]

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.[7] The WV Higher Education Policy Commission approved Hemphill on May 18, 2012 and he became the university’s tenth president on July 1, 2012. His selection followed a nationwide search.[8]

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.


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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

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. In the fall of 2012, WVSU held its commencement ceremony on campus in the P.A. Williams Auditorium of Ferrell Hall.

Student activitiesEdit


File:Wvsu 000.gif

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 competes in the NCAA's Division II. The WVIAC will disband following the 2012-13 season and the school will join the new Mountain East Conference.

The athletic teams are known as the Yellow Jackets. Students from KVCTC can also play on these teams, but are only recognized as WVSU. WVSU athletic teams include men's football, baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis, and women's basketball, golf, softball, tennis, and volleyball.

The football team was ranked in the NCAA's Division II Football Poll in 2008. They played in the Chicago Football Classic, which is for HBCU colleges and universities, at Chicago's Soldier Field in 2008. They defeated the Marauders of Central State University. The Yellow Jackets football team has also played in the Palmetto Capital City Classic against Benedict College and the Dayton Classic against Central State. In December 2012, Jon Anderson was named the 13th head football coach in Yellow Jackets history. Anderson came to WVSU after serving on the coaching staff of NAIA football powerhouse the University of Sioux Falls (USF). During Anderson's time on the coaching staff at USF, the school won three NAIA national championships.

Other accolades of the Yellow Jackets athletic teams include the men's basketball team ranking #24 in the U.S.A. on the NCAA's Division II preseason top 25 bulletin for 2009-10, the men's baseball team receiving the WVIAC Sportsmanship Award for 2008-09, the women's cheerleading squad taking third place for the WVIAC Presidents' Cup in 2007-08, the women's golf team finishing sixth place at the WVIAC Women's Golf Championship in 2009, and the 2009 WVIAC Coach Poll ranking the WVSU women's volleyball team at number 2 for the start of the 2009 season.

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.

Marching Band, Wind, & Jazz EnsembleEdit

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. When he became the Director of Bands, only 7 students were enrolled. The band does 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 band's pre-game show consists of a "funky" version of the school's fight song, "Hail to the Team", while spelling out WVSU. This is then followed by the playing of the "National Anthem" and WVSU's Alma Mater. Another song/piece may be played between the fight song and the National Anthem.

The 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) and Poca High School's Invitational Festival in Poca, WV (2009–2012). 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.

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 12th concert featured the WVSU Jazz Ensemble and saxophonist Brian Lenair[12] and the April 13th concert again featured the WVSU Jazz Ensemble and Brian Lenair, but also featured a comedy show by famed comedian, Dick Gregory.[13] The Jazz Ensemble returned the following year to perform for the 151st Anniversary on April 16 and performed at Freedom Plaza. The Jazz Ensemble has also been invited to play at The Greenbrier.

Other instrumental groups at WVSU include the Brass Ensemble, the Guitar Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble, and Woodwind Ensembles (including one of the premier groups, "3 Hits and a Ms. Saxophone Quartet"[14]). In addition, WVSU is home to the community group, the Mountain State Brass Band, also under the direction of Mr. Scott Woodard.

Vocal ensemblesEdit

In addition to the instrumental ensembles, WVSU also features the WVSU Concert Choir, the "State" Singers, and two Barbershop Quartets (one female group and one male group). 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. Dr. Dirk Johnson is the Director of Choral Activities for WVSU and has been at that position since the fall of 2009.

Student lifeEdit

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 lifeEdit

Student mediaEdit

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 alumniEdit


  1. "Booker T. Washington Monument To Be Dedicated In Malden". WVSU.
  2. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  3. 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.
  4. White, Davin (2011-03-16). "WVSU to offer new law enforcement master's degree". Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2012-07-01.
  6. Harris, Amy Julia (2011-12-29). "Carter to stay at WVSU until 2014, receive full pay". Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  7. Dickinson, Pat (2012-05-09). "HEMPHILL OFFERED PRESIDENCY". WVSU. Retrieved 202-05-09.
  8. Burdette, Whitney (2012-05-24). "WV State introduces new president to campus". The State Journal. Retrieved 2012-05-25.
  9. White, Davin (2009-10-19). "Booker T. Washington monument unveiled". Charleston Gazette. Retrieved 2009-10-19.
  10. "WVSU Day at the Legislature February 24". West Virginia State University. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
  11. Simmons, Bethany (2011-10-20). "WVSU Instructor Makes Nationwide List Of Most Influential Professors". WCHS-TV. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
  12. "DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Concert at the Lincoln Theater".
  13. "DC Emancipation Day 150th Anniversary Jazz and Comedy Concert at the Lincoln Theater".
  14. Dickinson, Pat (2012-06-13). "WVSU QUARTET TO PLAY FESTIVALL". WVSU. Retrieved 2012-06-13.

External linksEdit

Template:Colleges and universities in West Virginia

Template:West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference navbox Template:Mountain East Conference navbox

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