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Marshall University is a coeducational public research university in Huntington, West Virginiamarker. It was founded in 1837 as a private subscription school by several residents of Guyandotte and the surrounding area, on a site once known as Maple Grove (now part of Huntington, but then the home of the Mount Hebron Church).

On March 30, 1838, the institution was formally dedicated by the Virginia General Assemblymarker as Marshall Academy; however, the majority of its course offerings remained below the college level. In 1858, the Virginia General Assemblymarker changed the name to Marshall College. The Civil War closed the often financially-challenged school for much of the 1860s.

On June 20, 1863, Cabell County, Virginiamarker, was one of the 50 counties separated from Virginia at the height of the American Civil War, and the college fell under the jurisdiction of the new state of West Virginiamarker. In 1867, the West Virginia Legislature resurrected the institution as a teacher training facility and renamed it State Normal School of Marshall College. With the exception of the landmark Old Main building, expansion of the facilities and the college itself did not begin until 1907, when the Board of Regents of West Virginiamarker changed the title of the head from "principal" to "president" and allowed the creation of new college-level departments.

The West Virginia Board of Education authorized Marshall College to offer the master's degree in six programs (chemistry, education, history, political science, psychology, and sociology) in 1938, as the institution underwent another expansion, which accelerated after World War II.

On March 1, 1961, Marshall College became Marshall University as the West Virginia Legislature approved university status for the institution and the legislation was signed by Governor W. W. Barron. In 1997, it merged with the University of West Virginia College of Graduate Studies (COGS), with the latter being renamed Marshall University Graduate College.

Marshall's enrollment was 16,500 in 2004. In addition to the main campus in Huntington and Marshall University Graduate College in South Charleston, West Virginiamarker, the school maintains undergraduate centers in Gilbertmarker, Point Pleasantmarker, and Hurricane, West Virginiamarker. In 1989, Marshall was governed by the University of West Virginia Board of Trustees, but this ended in 2000.

Marshall University is composed of eight colleges and schools: the College of Liberal Arts (COLA), the College of Fine Arts (COFA), the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), the College of Information Technology and Engineering (CITE), the Elizabeth McDowell Lewis College of Business (LCOB), the College of Science (COS), the College of Health Professions (COHP), and the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SOJMC). The University is also home to the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, a regional center for cancer research which has a national reputation for its programs in rural health care delivery. The prominent forensic science graduate program is one of only three post-graduate-level academic programs in the United Statesmarker accredited by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

In May 2006, Dr. Stephen J. Kopp took over as Marshall University's president and Dr. Sarah Denman serves as the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. The eight college deans are Dr. David J. Pittenger (COLA), Mr. Don Van Horn (COFA), Dr. Rosalyn Anstine Templeton (COEHS), Dr. Tony B. Szwilski (CITE), Dr. Paul Uselding (LCOB), Dr. Andrew Rogerson (COS), Dr. Shortie McKinney (COHP), and Dr. Corley Dennison (SOJMC). Dr. Terry Fenger serves as Director of the Forensic Science Center. Dr. Charles McKown is the Dean of the School of Medicine.

Marshall University also operates the Robert C. Byrd Institute, with operations on both the Huntington and South Charleston campuses, as well as in Fairmont, West Virginiamarker, and Rocket Center, West Virginiamarker. The goal of the Institute is the transfer of technology from the academic departments to private industry to support job development in the region.



Old Main, which now serves as the primary administrative building for the university, was built on land known as Maple Grove in what was then the state of Virginiamarker. John Laidley, a local attorney, hosted the meeting which led to the founding of Marshall Academy. The school was named after Laidley's friend, the eminent John Marshall who had served as the fourth Chief Justice of the United States from January 1801 to July 1835. In 1838, the Virginia General Assemblymarker officially chartered the academy, and the school that year began its first full term. The academy was closed for several years during the American Civil War.

In 1863 the western counties of Virginia officially formed the State of West Virginiamarker, and in the legislature of West Virginia created the State Normal School of Marshall College.

The 20th Century

Forty years later, in 1907, enrollment surpassed 1,000 students.. Thirteen years after that, the school began offering four-year Bachelor Degrees for the first time in 1920.

In 1937, the college suffered through a devastating flooding by the Ohio River. Numerous structures, such as Northcott Hall and the James E. Morrow Library were extensively flooded. Much of Huntington was also heavily damaged, and as a result, a floodwall was constructed around much of the town to prevent future occurrences.

In 1938, the college officially began granting Master's degrees in chemistry, education, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. In that year the school was accredited as a "university level institution"; however, the renaming of the school would remain a contentious political issue for decades to come.

In 1960, John F. Kennedy spoke at the college during his cross-country campaign for the presidency.

In 1961, the state legislature finally created Marshall University. Governor William Wallace Barron signed the legislation at the university the day after it passed the legislature, on March 2, 1961. The student newspaper, The Parthenon, prepared two front pages for the day, depending on the outcome of the legislature's vote. Also in 1961, WMUL-FMmarker began operations as the first public radio station in West Virginia. The station, which began in the Science Building at 10 watts of power now broadcasts from the Communications Building with 1,150 watts.

In 1969, the university's athletic program, facing a number of scandals, fired both its football and basketball coaches and was suspended from the Mid-American Conference and from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The university respectably rebuilt its athletic program over the next several years, and in 1977, the university joined the Southern Conference.

In 1971 the Williamsonmarker and Loganmarker campuses of Marshall University were combined by the West Virginia Legislature to form Southern West Virginia Community College (now Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College).

In 1977 the university founded its School of Medicine, the first professional school and the first doctoral program. Over the next 20 years the school would add doctoral programs in many fields. Twenty years later, in 1997, the West Virginia Graduate College became the graduate college of Marshall University. Its campus is located in South Charleston, West Virginiamarker. In 1998, the John Deaver Drinko Library opened on campus. The center includes a 24-hour study center and a coffee shop, and has both wired and wireless networking throughout the building. John Deaver Drinko graduated from the university in 1942.

1970 Football Team Airplane Crash

Enscription at the burial site for the unidentified victims of the 1970 plane crash.

On the evening of November 14, 1970, the Thundering Herd football team, along with coaches and fans, was returning home to Huntington from Kinstonmarker, North Carolinamarker. The team had just lost a game against the East Carolina Universitymarker Pirates. The chartered Southern Airways Flight 932marker crashed on approach to the Tri-State Airportmarker after clipping trees just west of the runway and impacting nose-first into a hollow. All seventy-five people on board were killed.

The team was rebuilt with Jack Lengyel as the new head coach. The leaders of the "Young Thundering Herd" (to which the team officially changed its name for the 1971 season) were the few players who didn't make the trip due to injury or disciplinary action. A bulk of the team were freshmen players who were allowed to play on the varsity squad due to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, college football's governing body, waiving a rule prohibiting it. Three years later, it would waive the rule for all schools. Rounding out the squad were players from other Marshall sports programs. They would win only two games that year. Their first win was an emotional 15-13 victory against Xavier Universitymarker in the home opener. Their second win, in their homecoming game, was against a better, ranked team: the Bowling Green State University Falcons.

The plaza at the center of the school has a fountain dedicated to the seventy-five victims. The water does not flow from November 14 until the first day of spring football practice the following year. The tragedy and its aftermath were the subject of several documentaries, including the award-winning Marshall University: Ashes to Glory. The tragedy and the rebuilding efforts were dramatized in the 2006 Warner Brothers feature, We Are Marshall which opened in Huntingtonmarker a week before its national release date. Many scenes in the movie were filmed on the campus and throughout Huntington.

The 21st Century

Marshall University Recreational Center complete with underground pool, basketball, racquetball courts, exercise equipment, track, and artifical rock climbing wall (2009).

Several new facilities have been recently completed, or currently under construction, all around the Huntington campus. These buildings include two new first-year student residence halls, a health and recreation center, an engineering lab facility, softball field, and an artificial turf practice field that is open to the public. A new Erickson Alumni Center and Marshall University Foundation & Development Complex is currently under final stages of completion. (completion expected late 2009)


The scholarship and achievements of Marshall's faculty are also bringing more attention to the University. Dr. Jackie Agesa and Dr. Richard Agesa are among the top 20 black economists in the nation. Dr. Jean Edward Smith, known for his works Grant and John Marshall: Definer of a Nation, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography. The Higher Education for Learning Problems (H.E.L.P.) program founded by Dr. Barbara Guyer assists students with learning disabilities and related disorders complete their college education.

Marshall offers two prestigious and academically rigorous scholarship programs: the John Marshall Scholars and the Society of Yeager Scholars program.

The University maintains major involvement in the arts for the cultural benefit of the surrounding Appalachianmarker region. The Joan C. Edwards Performing Arts center is a state-of-the-art, 530-seat facility for studies in the fields of music, art, and theatre. The Jomie Jazz Center is a $2.6 million facility that houses the University's study program in jazz.

In April 2007, the Marshall's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was ranked fifth in the nation in producing family physicians, according to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

In 2005, Marshall alum and Chicago Tribune reporter Julia Keller won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing. CNN White Housemarker correspondent Joe Johns also is a Marshall alum.


Marshall University's official athletics logo, featuring Marco the buffalo.

Marshall University vs. Cincinnati Bearcats 2008 (before game).

Marshall's sports teams are known as the Thundering Herd. The school colors are kelly green and white. Marshall participates in NCAA Division I (I-A for football) as a member of Conference USA. The name Thundering Herd came from a Zane Gray novel released in 1925, and a silent movie of the same two years later. Marshall teams were originally known as the Indians, and the green-white colors came in 1903, replacing black and blue. Herald-Dispatch sports editor Carl "Duke" Ridgley tagged the team with the Thundering Herd name, but many other nicknames were suggested over the next thirty years, including Boogercats, Big Green, Green Gobblers, Rams, Judges and others. In 1965, students, alums and faculty settled on Thundering Herd in a vote, and Big Green was given to the athletic department's fund-raising wing.

From 1964 to 1983, Marshall's football program suffered a dismal streak of losing seasons and was suspended by the Mid-American Conference in 1969 for 144 alleged recruiting violations in 1968-69 in football and basketball. While the NCAA issued a one-year probation, the MAC would not take the program back as late as 1972. This was exacerbated by the 1970 plane crashmarker that killed nearly all of the team's coaches and players. Marshall had the worst record of any major college playing football in the 1970s, winning only 23 games and losing 83 over that ten-year period. Marshall joined the Southern Conference for all sports in 1977, but football was 0-26-1 in the first five years. MU's only non-loss came on a 59-yard field goal with no time left by freshman Barry Childers at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., for a 13-13 tie. In 1981, Marshall won its first SC game by beating Appalachian State in Boone, N.C., 17-14, and the celebration included a 30-mile police escort and a crowd estimated at 3,000 met the team when they unloaded at Gullickson Hall on the MU campus.

Beginning in 1984, Marshall football experienced a remarkable turnaround as Stan Parrish's first team nailed down a 6-5 mark with a 31-28 win at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., inside the Memorial Center or "Mini-Dome," the Buccaneers 12,000-seat indoor football facility. The Thundering Herd posted 21 straight winning seasons, winning the SC in 1988, 1994 and 1996, before going 4-7 in 2005 under first-year head coach Mark Snyder, a former Herd All-American defensive back and native of nearby South Point, Ohio, who played for the Herd in 1987 after leading the Ironton (Ohio) Tigers to the state championship game as a quarterback.


During the 1990s, Marshall posted the most wins of any NCAA Division I program, winning 114 games and losing just 25. The Thundering Herd won Division I-AA national championships in 1992 and 1996 before moving to I-A in 1997, and set a Division I, FCS (formerly I-AA, now the Football Championship Subdivision of Division I athletics) record by advancing to the "Final Four" of the I-AA Tournament for six consecutive seasons.

Marshall has gone to eight bowl games in I-A, posting a 5-3 record, and the Herd finished No. 10 in the nation in 1999 in both the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll when MU was 13-0. They knocked off No. 25-ranked BYU in the 1999 Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan, 21-3 to complete the second perfect season in four years (15-0 for 1996's I-AA Championship team, rated the best-ever in I-AA with stars like Randy Moss, Erik Kresser, Doug Chapman, Erik Thomas, Tim Martin, Billy Lyon, B.J. Cohen, Larry McCloud, Melvin Cunningham and many others).

Under head coach and Marshall alum Bobby Pruett, the Thundering Herd made a triumphant return to Division I-A, returning to the Mid-American Conference. Led by quarterback Chad Pennington and All-American wide receiver Randy Moss, Marshall won the MAC championship in 1997. In 1999, the Herd completed an undefeated season resulting in an Associated Press Top 10 ranking. By 2000, with quarterback Byron Leftwich, Marshall extended its string of consecutive MAC titles to four, over Toledo (1997 & 1998) and Western Michigan (1999 & 2000). The Herd lost in the MAC championship game in 2001, but reclaimed the conference title in 2002. At the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, Marshall rallied from a 8-38 lead by East Carolina behind five second half touchdowns from Leftwich, to win 64-61 in double overtime, the highest scoring bowl game in NCAA history. Marshall would defeat Louisville in the 2002 GMAC Bowl for its fourth win over a Conference USA program in five bowls (UL-1998 Motor City Bowl; Cincinnati-2000 MCB; ECU-2001 GMAC Bowl; UL-2002 GMAC Bowl). Marshall would lost to C-USA member Cincinnati in the 2004 PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl in Bob Pruett's final season. Later that year, Marshall would join Conference USA while Louisville and Cincinnati, along with DePaul, Marquette and South Florida jumped to the Big East from C-USA and UNC-Charlotte and St. Louis left C-USA to join the Atlantic 10. Joining MU in C-USA in 2005 was UCF, who played in the MAC for football and Atlantic Sun for other sports, and Tulsa, Rice, UTEP and SMU also joined the league with Southern Miss, Tulane, Houston, UAB, Memphis and East Carolina, who remained members after the other schools left.

The Joan at dusk.

In 2003, Marshall renamed its football stadium with a capacity of 38,016, Joan C.marker Edwards Stadiummarker, honoring a major donor to the university and its athletic program. The facility became the first football stadium in Division I-A to be named after a woman. Also in 2003, Marshall University disbanded its men's track & field program, expressing financial concerns with the school's 2005 move from MAC to Conference USA.

Despite past conference titles and three appearances in the NCAA Tournament, men's basketball at the University has been in a state of relative mediocrity since advancing to the NIT in 1988. Marshall finished as runner-up in its final Southern Conference tournament in 1997, losing on a last second shot by UT-Chattanooga, and made one trip to the Mid-American Conference semi-finals in 2000 before falling to Miami, Ohio.

Both men's and women's basketball are played at the 9,600-seat Cam Henderson Centermarker, named for the innovative coach who guided the school's basketball team from 1935 to 1955 and football from 1935-49. Henderson is the coach who developed the fast break, the zone defense and even the "King Drill" warm-up made famous by the Harlem Globetrotters. Henderson won 358 games against just 158 losses as basketball coach, and captured the NAIB (today's NAIA) National Championship with a school-record 32-5 mark in 1946-47 in the tournament that is still held in Kansas City. In football, he coached the Herd to the Buckeye Conference title in 1937 and then to the second-ever Tangerine Bowl on Jan. 1, 1948, falling to Catawba College 7-0. Henderson won 68 games as football coach.

Donnie Jones took over the men's basketball program in 2007-08, coming to MU from back-to-back titles in the NCAA Tournament with Billy Donovan at Florida. Donovan had been MU's head coach 1994-96, and Jones was an assistant at both MU and UF before taking the Marshall job in '07. Jones got Marshall to a winning record for the first time since 2001 with a 16-14 mark in his first season. Jones will field his 2008-09 team with transfers from Florida, Purdue and Georgetown mixed in with seniors Markel Humphrey and Darryl Merthie; junior Tyler Wilkerson; sophomore Tirrell Baines; and freshmen Marcus Goode (a prop in '07-08), Damier Pitt, Shaquille Johnson, Nigel Spikes and Kore White, the Herd figures to continue the improvement that drove its attendance up over 5,000 per game, the 14th-best increase in the nation. Chadwick's women's team will return four starters and hope to avoid injuries in pursuit of a C-USA title after finishing 17-16. Casey Baker was on the All-Conference USA Defensive team and Tynikki Crook was named to the All-Tournament team.

Other sports at the school include men's and women's cross country, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, and track & field; men's baseball; and teams for both genders in golf, and soccer. Marshall also fields club teams, not affiliated with the MU Athletic Department, in rugby union for both women and men, and a men's lacrosse team.

The Thundering Herd women's volleyball team won the 2005 Conference USA regular season and tournament championships. In 2007, they again won the C-USA Regular Season title and featured four-time All-American Kelly-Anne Billingy, the three-time C-USA Player of the Year. Head coach Mitch Jacobs will set the all-time winning record for a volleyball coach at Marshall in the 2008 season. He also coached the team to the MAC Regular Season title in 2005.

Marshall baseball, who won the Southern Conference in 1978 and 1981 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 1973 and 1978, finished as runner-up in the C-USA Baseball Tournament, falling in the finals to Houston, 3-2, but winning a MU record 30 games without a home field to use in Huntington for the entire season (Marshall has played C-USA games at Charleston's Appalachian Power Park since joining the league in 2006). For the first time since 1994, MU had players drafted in the June 5-6 Major League Draft with a school-record three being selected, plus one recruit. Steve Blevins, who tied the single-season wins mark with a 9-3 mark, signed with the Minnesota Twins on June 11, while Nate Lape was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and Tommy Johnson by the Seattle Mariners. Lape and second baseman Adam Yeager are playing this summer in the Cape Cod League, the premier wooden bat summer college baseball league, for the Brewster Whitecaps.

Softball won 26 games behind four-time All-American Rachel Folden, who re-wrote the Marshall softball record books in home runs and RBI, and was again the C-USA Player of the Year. Folden joined her coach, Shonda Stanton, and two former Marshall players, Jessica and Amanda Williams, in the National Fast-Pitch League this summer. Marshall also sent three track athletes (Rachel Blankenship, Andrea Jackson and Teniqua Sutton), one diver (Siobhan Schuurman) and two tennis players (Kellie Schmitt and Karolina Soor) to the NCAA Regionals and Championships. Schmitt won for the first time in Marshall history in singles, Blakenship finished 15th in the shot, with her second-best throw of the year and Jackson was 20th in the triple jump.

Marshall's biggest rivalries out of conference are with Ohio University, Miami University and West Virginia University, while East Carolina Universitymarker and University of Central Floridamarker have been the biggest rivals in Conference USA so far. Tulane Universitymarker and the Herd baseball team now seem to be bitter rivals as MU was 3-1-1 against the Green Wave in 2008, winning its first game ever back in April in New Orleans. Marshall returned to the "Big Easy" in May and knocked Tulane out of the C-USA Tournament on the Green Wave home field, Turchin Stadium, in the C-USA Tournament, 10-5 and 8-7. Yeager stole a league-record five bases against TU in the opening win, while Jeff Rowley scored the winning run in game two on a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth.

Student life

Residence halls

There are eight residence halls, seven of which are located on the main campus.

Name Location Notes
Buskirk Hall Central campus All female dormitory.
Hodges Hall (currently used for office space) Central campus Male and female dormitory.
Twin Towers East Central campus Male and female dormitory.
Twin Towers West Central campus Male and female dormitory.
Holderby Hall Central campus Male and female dormitory.
Laidley Hall (closed after 2007-2008 school year) Central campus Male and female dormitory.
Marshall Commons Central campus Male and Female dormitories.
Freshman Experience Residence Hall Central campus Male, female and co-ed dormitory. Freshman only.
University Heights Apartment Off campus Male, female, family and non-traditional apartments. This is located four miles from the central campus along US 60 and comprises two and three-story structures.

See also


  1. Becoming A Real College: 1910-1929
  2. "The Early Years." Marshall University. 1997. 20 Dec. 2006
  3. 100 Years and Growing: 1930-1939
  4. A University at Last: 1960-1969
  5. Moving Forward: 1990-1999
  6. The Greenbook: Faculty Handbook-Policy, Governance, Procedure August 2006
  7. Brown, Lisle, ed. "Marshall Academy, 1837." Marshall University Special Collections. 1 Sept. 2004, 20 Dec. 2006.
  8. Lewis, Virgil A. "A history of Marshall Academy, Marshall College and Marshall College State Normal School."Marshall University. 20 Dec. 2006
  9. Brown, Lisle, ed. "Marshall Academy, 1856." Marshall University Special Collections. 1 Sept. 2004, 20 Dec. 2006 .
  10. "100 years and growing." Marshall University. 1997. 20 Dec. 2006
  11. History: Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College

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