WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., March 18, 2021 — The year 1837 saw Martin Van Buren inaugurated as the 8th President of the United States, Queen Victoria ascend the British throne and Chicago incorporated as a city. It also was the year that West Liberty University began.
Founded as a private academy by the Virginia legislature and first called West Liberty Academy, WLU traces its roots to a time when the state of West Virginia didn’t even exist.
“Founders Day is a day to celebrate and recognize the long tradition of academic excellence here on the Hilltop. We are proud of our history and hope that everyone will take a moment to enjoy the virtual presentation planned to commemorate the day,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, WLU president.
The virtual celebration will be streamed on Topper Station on Tuesday, March 30.
Considered the oldest public university in the state, the Virginia legislature granted the charter that established WLU as a private academy in West Liberty, then the county seat of Ohio County.
The first class of 65 students met in the home of the Rev. Nathan Shotwell in 1838, the first principal of the new school.
Principals led the Academy till 1918, when John C. Shaw became the officially named first president. President Evans is the 37th president.
WLU has gone through various names over its lengthy history including: West Liberty Academy (1837 – 1870), West Liberty Normal School (1870 – 1931), West Liberty State Teachers College (1931 – 1943), West Liberty State College (1943 – 2009) and West Liberty University (2009 – now).
The virtual celebration will include greetings from the president, music from the WLU choirs, a reading by the West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman and others and comments from the SGA President Isabella Yakicic. It will conclude with a video from WLU’s Office of Marketing and Brand Management.
The celebration was planned by Founders Day committee members: Dr. Jeremy Larance, assistant provost, professor of English and interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Ron Witt, executive director of Alumni Relations and University Special Projects and Maureen Zambito, media relations director.
All students, faculty and staff will receive an email link and invitation to join the celebration on the morning of March 30.