The institution opened on September 3,1890. However, those dreams to establish the school began long before that time. In a time when public education was not yet readily available in many parts of West Virginia, many students who wanted to go beyond the eighth grade levels had to go out of state to do so. The Methodist Episcopal Church considered education to be of high importance, and had been making plans for many decades to provide an opportunity for both boys and girls to receive this education without having to leave the state to do so.
At the Annual Conference in 1884, the Committee for Centennial Celebration stated in their report:
That the erection and endowment of an institution of learning of high grade for both sexes be one of the principal objects of the thank offerings of our people of thie Conference. The location of said institution to be fixed by the Conference at a future session.
The school opened in 1890 as the West Virginia Conference Seminary. The word seminary, however, meant something very different at that time from the way we use it today. It meant a prepatory school. There was also a Normal School Course for teacher training. Here is the very first catalog (https://archive.org/details/westVirginiac18901891west).
The first year of collegiate-level work was added in 1892 and a sophomore level in 1901. 1903 was the year that the board agreed to grant bachelor's degrees. By 1905 the school had grown, and graduated the first class of college graduates. That year, President Wier also succeeded in having the name changed to Wesleyan University of West Virginia, but it did not last through the year. By the commencement in 1906, the name had become the one famiiar to us today: West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Under the leadership of Thomas W. Haught, a West Virginia Wesleyan (1898 graduate of the Seminary) who served the college as the academic dean from 1909-1929, the school was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1927. For more information about Thomas W. Haught's long career at the college, see https://dreamersandgiants.com/bio-haught-thomas-w/.
Dr. Stanley H. Martin (he college's president from 1957-1972) worked to promote the growth of the campus in terms of enrollment numbers and facilities. Constructing numerous buildings that give the campus its current Georgian character.
John D. Rockefeller IV served as the college's president from 1973 to 1976. The future West Virginia governor and US Senator oversaw the construction of the gymnasium and athletic center which now bears his name.