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West Virginia State University is a historically black (though now over 90 percent white) public college in Institutemarker, an unincorporated area of Kanawha Countymarker, West Virginiamarker, United Statesmarker and suburb of Charlestonmarker. In the Charleston-metro area, the school is usually referred to simply as "State" or "West Virginia State". It is the smallest land grant college in the country. Hazo W. Carter, Jr. became the first president of West Virginia State University in 2004, after previously serving as the ninth president of West Virginia State College, when the school was granted university status.


WVSU is located on Mound Builder Native American land granted to George Washington for his service in the King's Military before the Revolutionary War. As a slave plantation, it belonged to Governor Cabbel whose son Sam Cabbel inherited it. The land was donated and became the site of the West Virginia Colored Institute.

Early history

The school was established as the West Virginia Colored Institute in 1891 under the second Morrill Act which provided for land-grant institutions for black students in the 17 states that had segregated schools. Booker T. Washington, noted African American educator and statesman, was instrumental in having the institution located in the Kanawha Valley. Dr. Washington visited the campus often and spoke at its first commencement exercise.

From 1891 through 1915, the school provided the equivalent of a high school education, along with vocational training and teacher preparation for the state's then segregated system of public schools. In 1915, the school was renamed as the West Virginia Collegiate Institute and began to also offer college degrees. It was renamed West Virginia State College in 1929.


In 1954, the school began a rapid transition following the Brown decision to desegregate public education. The school surrendered its land-grant status in 1957, the only college ever to do so, and was incorporated into the general system of public colleges in West Virginiamarker. Within a decade of the Brown decision, the college transformed from an all-black college with a primarily residential population to a heavily commuter school with over 90 percent of its students being white. The school remains over 90 percent white and commuter today, and its student body is largely older and part-time. However, African Americans make up the vast majority of students residing on campus, and the university's administration has always been heavily African American. The school's land-grant status was restored on February 12, 1991 in a signing ceremony by Governor Gaston Caperton.

The school previously hosted a separate graduate institution that, after several name changes, became the West Virginia Graduate College. However, in the 1990s, the graduate college was absorbed by Marshall Universitymarker, and eventually moved to its own facility in South Charlestonmarker.

University status

In 2003 the school's community college, established in 1953, was separately accredited as the West Virginia State Community and Technical College but remained administratively linked to West Virginia State College. In 2004 the West Virginia State College gained university status, becoming West Virginia State University and began to offer graduate degrees in Biotechnology and Media Studies. In 2008 the legislature fully separated The Community & Technical College. However, both schools continue to share the same campus. In 2009, The Community and Technical College went through a name change. The new name was announced on April 20, 2009 as Kanawha Valley Community and Technical Collegemarker.

On October 19, 2009, West Virginia State University dedicated a monument to the memory of noted African American educator and statesman Booker T. Washington. The event took place at West Virginia State University's Booker T. Washington Park in Malden, West Virginiamarker. The monument also honors the families of African ancestry who lived in Old Malden in the early 20th Century and who knew and encouraged Booker T. Washington. Special guest speakers at the event included West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III, Malden attorney Larry L. Rowe, and the president of WVSU.

WVSU's Fall and Spring Commencement Ceremonies are held in December and May, respectively, at the Charleston Civic Centermarker in Charleston, WVmarker. Until 2009, WVSU and KVCTC, when it was WVSCTC, had joint Commencement Ceremonies.

Student activities


The Yellow Jacket, the mascot of West Virginia State University.
The athletic teams, known as the Yellow Jackets, compete in the NCAA's Division II as a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Students of KVCTC also play on these teams, but at games, only WVSU is recognized as being the school the team is from.

On September 6, 2008, the Yellow Jacket Football team played in the 11th Annual Chicago Football Classic, which is for HBCU colleges and universities, in Chicago, Illinoismarker at Soldier Fieldmarker. The Yellow Jackets defeated the Marauders of Central State University 47 to 13.

2008 was the first year that the WVSU football team was ranked in NCAA's Division II Football Poll since WVSU joined the NCAA Division II in 1995.

On September 5, 2009, the Yellow Jackets played the Tigers of Benedict Collegemarker in the Palmetto Capital City Classic in Columbia, South Carolinamarker. The Yellow Jackets were defeated by the Tigers with a score of 49-21.

Other athletics teams at WVSU include Baseball, Basketball, Golf, Tennis, and Track & Field for men. And for women, Basketball, Cheerleading, Golf, Softball, Tennis, Track & Field, and Volleyball.

The WVSU men's basketball team is ranked #24 in the U.S.A.marker on the NCAA's Division II preseason top 25 bulletin.

The WVSU men's baseball team received the WVIAC Sportsmanship Award for the 2008-2009 year.

The WVSU women's cheerleading squad took third place for the WVIAC Presidents' Cup in the 2007-2008 season.

The WVSU women's golf team finished in sixth place at the WVIAC Women's Golf Championship for 2009.

The 2009 WVIAC Coach Poll ranked the WVSU women's volleyball team at number 2 for the start of the 2009 season.

Marching Band & Wind Ensemble

In the mid-late 1990s, the band saw a period of resurgence under the direction of Mr. Chris Card. From 1995 until 2000, the band had an enrollment of between 35-50 members. Many of the members during this time period were scholarship recipients, and the band often contained 5-10 veterans or active members of Drum Corps International. The band was known for its small size and huge sound.

The band marches in a "corps-style" fashion, the only band of its type at an HBCU, as most have a "show-style" band.

The Yellow Jackets Marching Band is marching at about 60 members in the Fall 2009 semester. Over the last couple of years, the band has broken enrollment records under the direction of Scott E. Woodard. Mr. Woodard has been the Director of Bands since 2006. When he became the Director of Bands, only 7 students were signed up for band. The Assistant Band Director is Jamie Atkins who is also the percussion instructor. The band does a different marching show at every home football game, with the exception of homecoming because half-time is taken up by the presentation of the homecoming kings and queens and a short speech by President Carter. The bands pre-game show consists of one or two selected songs and then a "funky" version of the school's fight song, "Hail to the Team", while spelling out WVSU. This is then followed by the playing of the "National Anthem" and WVSU's Alma Mater.

The band performs in one parade: the WVSU Homecoming Parade. If invited, the band will play at the Charleston Christmas Parade. As of 2009, Charleston no longer hosts the Charleston Sternwheel Regatta eliminating that parade from being possibly done by the band. The band also plays for President Carter's "State of the University Address" and for WVSU's ROTC Hall of Fame Ceremony. In September 2008 and 2009, the band was invited to be the exhibition band for a high school band festival in Nicholas County, West Virginiamarker. In September 2009, the band was also invited to be the exhibition band for Poca High School's band competition located in Poca, West Virginiamarker.

The Band was invited to go to Chicago with the football team for the Chicago Football Classic to participate in the Battle of the Bands competition. The competition occurred after the game and was against Central States Marching Band "The Invincible Marching Marauders". Central State won the competition, but the band can at least say they played at the historic Soldier Field.

The Wind Ensemble takes place during the last month of the Fall Semester and the entire Spring Semester. The Wind Ensemble performs two concerts, the first is before the end of the Fall Semester and the second is toward the end of the Spring Semester. If the Instrumental Conducting class is offered during the Spring Semester, there is a third concert that the Wind Ensemble performs. This concert is for the Instrumental Conducting students. This is their final and it lets the students have a chance to conduct an ensemble in front of a crowd. In Spring 2010, the Wind Ensemble will be touring through Europe. In addition to the Fall and Spring Semester concerts, the Wind Ensemble also plays at WVSU's Fall and Spring Commencement Ceremonies. The pieces played for the Commencement Ceremonies include the "Star Spangled Banner", the "Fanfare and Processional", WVSU's Alma Mater, and for the recessional, the "Raiders March". There are also a couple of selected pieces played before the "Star Spangled Banner".

Other instrumental groups at WVSU/KVCTC include the Jazz Band, the Brass Ensemble, the Guitar Ensemble, the Percussion Ensemble, and the recently formed Woodwind Ensemble. In the Spring of 2008, the WVSU Jazz Band traveled to Australia to perform.

Student life

Many of the students who live in dorms on campus are from large urban areas outside of West Virginia or from the rural counties in the state. Those who stay on campus generally congregate at Wilson Student Union.

The campus of West Virginia State is one of the more scenic in the state. Over the years, great attention was paid to assure architectural integrity and continuance while expanding campus facilities.

Greek life

Student media

The campus radio station, WVSU, can be heard locally on 106.7 FM or over the internet. The station has hosted live music and interviews with recording artists. The campus newspaper, The Yellow Jacket, is published and edited by students and can be picked up for free in every major building across the campus.

External links


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