|West Virginia Wesleyan College|
|Religious affiliation||United Methodist Church|
|President||Dr. Pamela Balch|
|Location||Buckhannon, West Virginia, USA|
|Colors||Orange and Black|
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. The school was founded in 1890 by the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist church. The college assumed its current name on Tuesday June 5, 1906 (see expanded History). U.S. News & World Report considers West Virginia Wesleyan a regional college and ranks it 12th in the South (first-tier) and ranks it second in the South in the Great Schools at Great Prices category. West Virginia Wesleyan College is accredited by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Wesleyan was listed as one of the "Best Southeastern Colleges" by the Princeton Review in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 and a "Best-Value College" in 2006 and 2007. Wesleyan is one of 150 schools to receive that distinction .
Wesleyan continues to serve as a residential, liberal arts college. The primary majors are elementary and secondary education, business, and natural sciences.
Academics[edit | edit source]
The College offers over 43 undergraduate majors and 36 minors. Wesleyan also has 3-2 engineering partnerships with Virginia Tech, the University of Virginia, and West Virginia University. Undergraduate degrees are awarded in Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Bachelor of Music Education. Graduate degrees awarded include the Master of Science in Athletic Training, Master of Business Administration, Master's in Education, Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and Master of Science in Nursing.
- Approximately 80% of West Virginia Wesleyan's faculty have earned doctorates or comparable terminal degrees within their field.
- The student-faculty ratio is 14 to 1, with an average class size of 19.
Campus[edit | edit source]
The campus boasts 23 major buildings of Georgian architecture, a legacy of the presidency of Stanley H. Martin (1957–1972). The beautiful campus is one of the immediate attractions for potential incoming freshmen. The grounds are situated in a park-like setting of more than 100 acres. It is surrounded by towering oak and spruce trees, dogwoods, laurels, and rhododendrons. The most recognizable buildings on campus are the Lynch-Raine Administration building, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library, and the beautiful Wesley Chapel with its towering and majestic steeple which can be seen for miles around.
Student life[edit | edit source]
Wesleyan has retained its residential character; about 90% of the students live on campus, due to its inclusive campus housing policies.
All students are highly recommended and encouraged to have a laptop computer. The campus is wireless and thoroughly connected, offering 2,200 Internet ports.
There are 19 NCAA Division II sports teams, and 70 clubs and organizations. Some 87% of students participate in community service.
The college's athletics teams are the Bobcats, which compete in the NCAA Division II West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC). Wesleyan has won over 151 conference championships earning a conference dominance of 18 Commissioner's Cups during the past 20 years[when?] and eight Presidents' Cups in 14 years. Each year, Wesleyan is recognized as having the top athletic program in the WVIAC. All of Wesleyans's 19 NCAA II teams successfully[clarification needed] compete at the regional and national levels. Wesleyan also ranks fifth among all NCAA II schools in the number of Academic Achievement Award winners.
The Greek system was initiated on campus in 1925, when the Board of Trustees authorized the establishment of two sororities and three fraternities. Today, Wesleyan's Greek Community thrives[clarification needed] and the character of the young men and women involved with the Greek organizations on campus reflects the values of the college. The majority of active alumni of Wesleyan are affiliated with the Greek system. In addition, Greek alumni continue to be the most prolific donors to the college. The four Panhellenic-affiliated sororities are Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Xi Delta, and Zeta Tau Alpha. The five Interfraterntiy Council (IFC)-affiliated fraternities are Alpha Sigma Phi, Chi Phi, the Kappa Alpha Order, Theta Chi, and Theta Xi. There are also many additional organizational brotherhoods, sisterhoods, and honorary groups on campus including Alpha Phi Omega, Alpha Psi Omega, Beta Beta Beta, Kappa Phi, Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Sigma Alpha Iota, Sigma Tau Epsilon, Sigma Tau Delta, and Sigma Theta Epsilon. Wesleyan students are highly active in community engagement projects. The school's Center for Community Engagement has been nationally recognized for the past two years.
History[edit | edit source]
Early History[edit | edit source]
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.
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[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
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 are tangible expressions of the expansion that characterized President Martin's tenure.
1973 to 1976[edit | edit source]
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[edit | edit source]
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.
Recent Years[edit | edit source]
Dr. Pamela Jubin Balch, a 1971 graduate of Wesleyan, became the College's 18th president in July 2006. Dr. Balch is the first woman to serve as president in the college's history. At the outset of her tenure as President, Balch reinstated the college's briefly-discontinued nursing program as well as its 3-2 engineering program. The college has since expanded its academic programs, adding graduate degrees in athletic training, education, English Writing, and nursing.
In 2009 Wesleyan opened the $7.2 million Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts followed shortly thereafter by the $8.9 million David E. Reemsnyder Research Center in 2010. A series of residential improvements to the campus were realized in the construction of a new 140-bed residence hall on Camden Avenue as well as a comprehensive renovation and restructuring of Fleming Hall, the college's second oldest permanent residence hall after Agnes Howard Hall. Adding to its already-beautiful and decidedly park-like campus, Wesleyan developed a sprawling green space in front of Wesley Chapel and included a fountain that had long been envisioned for the space since President Stanley Martin's campus master plan of the mid-1960s. Recent academic restructuring has contributed to the academic success of the college, with individual departments now consolidated into seven schools: Arts and Humanities, Athletic Training and Exercise Science, Business, Education, Nursing, Science, and Social Sciences. The College has seen consistent enrollment growth, with the number of students growing from 1,150 in 2006 to around 1,400 at present.
Wesleyan students have also enjoyed national success. During the Balch presidency, nine Wesleyan students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships and one student became the first student from any West Virginia college or university student to become a Mitchell Scholar. Wesleyan's Students in Free Enterprise team has finished among the top 40 in the nation the past two years and Wesleyan ranks fifth among all NCAA Division II colleges and universities in the number of Academic Achievement Award winners. Wesleyan students have also been named NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship winners each of the last two years. Over 300 science majors have participated in federal and state-funded scientific research projects during the past five years.
Wesleyan Traditions[edit | edit source]
Athletics[edit | edit source]
Many features of modern campus life at Wesleyan have long traditions. The college currently boasts 19 sports, competing in NCAA Division II. The college offers varsity men's sports in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, and track and field. The college offers varsity women's sports in basketball, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. A 19th varsity sport, women's lacrosse, will formally begin competition in the fall of 2010.
Wesleyan, which is a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, has captured the WVIAC Commissioner's Cup 17 of the last 19 years and has won the Presidents' Cup two consecutive years. Wesleyan teams that have advanced to NCAA Division II post season play during the past year include men's and women's tennis, softball, women's soccer, men's swimming, men's and women's cross country, and men's and women's track. The WVIAC will disband after the 2012-13 season and the school will join the new Mountain East Conference.
One of the earliest sporting traditions at Wesleyan was football, which was introduced in the pre-college seminary in 1898. The school colors of orange and black go back to that very first game, when fullback and team captain Frank Thompson wore a turtleneck sweater in Princeton University's orange and black to honor two football greats of that university whom he especially admired. A more comprehensive athletic program was formally organized at the collegiate level in 1902. Early sports included football, baseball, basketball, and gymnastics, all for men only.
Many WVWC alumni have gone on to play professional sports. Among them, two alumni have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame - Earl "Greasy" Neale '15 of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1969 and Cliff Battles '33 of the Washington Redskins in 1968.
Music on Campus[edit | edit source]
Music was an important part of campus life, beginning in 1890 when two pianos and an organ were installed in the seminary's new building. In 1902, the current Annex Building was constructed as the Conservatory of Music, the College's first building dedicated solely to academic purposes.
In 1969, a 60 stop, 76 rank Casavant Frères pipe organ was installed in the newly-built Wesley Chapel. The organ is currently the largest true pipe organ in the state of West Virginia with 4,244 pipes and 4 manuals. The instrument is frequently used for campus convocations, recitals and concerts, chapel services, and West Virginia Annual Conference (United Methodist Church) events.
Today, WVWC has a wide variety of performing groups including a Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, and Flute Ensemble. Both the Concert Chorale and the WVWC Jazz Ensemble have toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe and the college's long and proud tradition of choral activity is also represented through Concentus Vocum (a select mixed-voice ensemble) as well as Wesleyan Singers (an all-female choir).
Well-known to many West Virginia Wesleyan College alumni and students is the song "My Home Among the Hills," written by former Wesleyan trustee E. W. “Bill” James. James' original composition is sung by the Concert Chorale at many school ceremonies and functions and the song (in numerous other arrangements) has gained popularity throughout West Virginia as an "unofficial anthem" of both the school and the state.
1984 graduate and country music artist/songwriter Karen Staley was a member of Concert Chorale and received a music minor. Staley went on to have her songs recorded by legends Dolly Parton, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, as well as superstars like Reba McEntire and Faith Hill. Staley co-wrote the 1995 ACM Song Of The Year "Keeper Of The Stars" as well as hits like " Take Me As I Am" and "Let's Go To Vegas" for Faith Hill, "On A Night Like This" for Trick Pony and many more. Staley also toured as a backup singer/guitar player for both Reba & Faith.
Wesley Chapel[edit | edit source]
An important legacy of the College is Wesley Chapel. With the ability to seat 1,800 people, Wesley Chapel holds the claim of largest worship space in the state of West Virginia. Wesley Chapel annually hosts the West Virginia United Methodist Annual Conference each June. The "Conference Sunday" service, the culmination of the Conference, always fills Wesley Chapel to standing-room-only.
Wesley Chapel also provides a fantastic venue for the Arts. Several campus musical groups perform in the Chapel each semester, as well as artists who visit WVWC as a part of its annual "Arts Alive" Program. Many world renowned artists have performed in Wesley Chapel over the years including a memorable performance by the late Maynard Ferguson, who famously performed a trumpet solo from the pulpit.
Written Histories[edit | edit source]
- Haught, Thomas W., West Virginia Wesleyan College 1890-1940, Buckhannon, WV: West Virginia Wesleyan College Press, 1940.
- McCuskey, Roy, All Things Work Together for Good to them that Love God, Buckhannon, WV: West Virginia Wesleyan College Press, ca. 1950.
- Plummer, Kenneth M., A History of West Virginia Wesleyan College, 1890-1965, Buckhannon, WV: West Virginia Wesleyan College Press, 1965.
[edit | edit source]
- West Virginia Wesleyan College website
- West Virginia Wesleyan College athletics website
- Pages In Time
References[edit | edit source]
- Mort Gamble (May 1983). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Agnes Howard Hall". State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/upshur/83003253.pdf. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html.
- West Virginia Wesleyan College Archives