West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education. Established as West Liberty Academy in 1837 (26 years before the state was admitted to the Union), it was created to respond to the need for higher educational opportunities west of the Appalachian ridge. The institution is named for the town in which it is located. West Liberty was so named in the late 18th Century as the westernmost point of the new liberty provided through the Declaration of Independence.
Excerpted from the book, West Liberty: From Academy to University, A History by Dr. David T. Javersak
“Three years after the purchase of the West Liberty Academy, on March 1, 1870, the West Virginia Legislature passed the ‘act to establish a Branch Normal School at West Liberty in Ohio County.’ The school opened on May 2 of that year. Originally, it was considered a branch of the WV State Normal School at Hungington. A normal school was an institution with a mean and opportunity and free to prepare mature men and women to teach and supervise teaching in the public schools of every kind and grade. Before 1900, West Liberty Normal School was a hybrid creature – part high school and part teacher preparatory. On March 4, 1931, the WV Legislature formally changed the school’s name to West Liberty State Teachers College.”