A Brief History of Glenville State University
I was sent to the wilderness where there was neither house nor ground nor money in which, on which, nor with which to locate or maintain a school.
-T. M. Marshall, first acting principal, 1873-1875, and principal, 1875-1881
On February 19, 1872, the state legislature put their approval on the placement of a Glenville Branch of the West Virginia Normal School. The only problem was that there would be no funding available for this. That year, the State Constitutional Convention declared that no appropriations were to be made for the establishment of any more normal schools or branches in West Virginia. The next April, fifty-six citizens of Gilmer County came together with funds to establish the Glenville Branch Normal School. Each of these individuals invested anywhere from five dollars to one-hundred dollars for the cause. The majority of these investments were twenty-five dollars or less. These founders were farmers, merchants, lawyers, carpenters, public officials, democrats, and republicans, but they all had one thing in common. They shared the desire to see an education system setup in their home town. They wanted to see a Normal School at Glenville.
An 1873 letter to the "Weston Democrat" said, "No place on earth could have been found more suitable for the establishment of a State Normal School than Glenville. The place is retired, healthy and possesses every qualification requisite for a place of study and thought. The inhabitants are civil, moral, refined, religious, and generous to fault. " Apparently, this opinion was shared by many of the citizens in central West Virginia because, within a few years, the enrollment of the school had exceeded the population of the city of Glenville. The campus became known as "the Lighthouse on the Hill" for both the quality of the teaching and the quality of the graduates.
By 1900, the Glenville Branch of the West Virginia Normal School became known as the Glenville State Normal School. Although the Glenville Normal's primary purpose had always been to train elementary teachers, the growth of the public school system in West Virginia brought about an expansion of curriculum to better prepare graduates to teach at higher levels. Students who successfully completed the normal coursework could transfer to West Virginia University to complete their last two years of college. During this time, the Glenville Normal also began organizing sports teams for competition, but the lack of an adequate transportation system limited the actual number of contests. During the 1920's, paved roads were constructed, and this provided an easier way for Glenville's athletic teams to compete with other colleges. The West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) was formed in 1925, and Glenville State was part of this long-running entity until it was dissolved in 2013.
The Glenville State Normal School was authorized to begin granting four-year Bachelor of Arts degrees in education in May of 1930. The West Virginia legislature changed the name of the school to the Glenville State Teachers College, effective June 1, 1931, in recognition of its new status. The school was officially a college. The Glenville State Teacher's College saw great success in its athletic programs. Many traditions, such as the Pioneer Mascot and Homecoming events, began during the 1930's also.
Although the school saw reduced enrollment during the war years, it quickly recovered shortly after the Second World War ended. Admission to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education had been sought and received. In 1943, the West Virginia legislature again changed the name of the school to Glenville State College. GSC also sought and received admission to the North Central Association of Colleges. Both B.A. and B.S. degrees in such academic fields as English, History, Science, and Music were also being offered.
Glenville State College continued to stand out during the second half of the 20th century. Enrollment continued to grow. New facilities were built and renovations of existing facilities took place to maintain an up-to-date learning environment for students and instructors. Graduates continued to stand out, and the sports teams continued to succeed. In the mid 1990's, Glenville State's football program became such a success that players broke NCAA records, and these teams, coaches, and players still receive national recognition today. The Women's Basketball team has also seen similar successes at times since 2000.
The development of Master's degrees set the stage for the first name change in 79 years. On February 22, 2022, West Virginia's legislature took action to officially change the name of Glenville State College to Glenville State University in acknowledgment of its evolution towards post-graduate education.
Throughout our history, Glenville State Normal School, Glenville State Teacher's College, Glenville State College, and Glenville State University has maintained a long tradition of teaching excellence by professors who care about each student as an individual, who take the time to get to know each student's goals, and who are committed to helping students get an education that will prepare them for a successful career. To this day, GSU professors are very approachable and willing to give personal support to help students succeed.
We honor our proud traditions by attending to teaching excellence and building academic programs of distinction. Our innovations are aimed at meeting the changing needs of our society. We prepare leaders for West Virginia, and we demonstrate our own leadership throughout all areas of our community.