West Liberty University traces its roots back to the West Liberty Academy, an elementary and secondary school founded in 1837 to bring education to frontier country; WLU is, by that reckoning, the oldest college in West Virginia. The original academy taught boys (the Greek and Roman classics) and girls (reading and writing), but losses in the Civil War left the school bankrupt; it was sold to the state in 1867. West Virginia then established the Normal School at West Liberty in 1870, a teacher training school that used a real high school to prepare school teachers in a 2-year program. West Liberty experienced extreme growth from returning WWII veterans, then once again in the 1960s and 70s as the Baby Boomers arrived. Now, in the 21st century, West Liberty University is a growing public university ranked in the top 10 public universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report.
Academic ProgramsWest Liberty University combines the small size and student support of a small liberal arts college with the advantages and affordability of a public university. The mission of West Liberty remains much the same as when it was a small academy reaching out to the pioneers west of the Appalachians – to bring the best possible education to the region, preparing knowledgeable and responsible leaders. West Liberty has an explicit mission to become the top university in the Ohio River Valley, and the university is steadily growing its programs, athletics, culture and arts, and student body to reach that goal.
With its heritage as a normal school, West Liberty’s teacher education is still one of its most prestigious and popular programs – the College of Education is the university’s oldest and most trusted. In recent years, WLU has expanded its business programs to great success, with the West College of Business growing a reputation as one of the best in the region, and the online MBA earning national attention for quality and affordability. WLU also offered the first dental hygienist program in the state. A growing slate of master’s degrees promises to make West Liberty a leader in West Virginia for a long time.
Student LifeWith a student body of just over 3500, West Liberty University finds a sweet spot for many students – small enough to create a nurturing, close-knit environment, but large enough for many activities, groups, and opportunities to find themselves and their tribe. More than 50 student-led clubs and organizations include honor societies, professional development organizations, religious groups, and hobby clubs (from role playing-games to conspiracy theory groups). Ten fraternities and sororities contribute to a vivid Greek Life that includes Homecoming, parties, and community service.
The West Liberty Hilltoppers compete in 18 NCAA Division II athletics as a charter member of the Mountain East Conference. Sports include male and female basketball, cross country, tennis, soccer, and track, as well as gender-specific sports like Acrobatics and Tumbling for women, and wrestling for men; Cheerleading is coed. WLU also has an active intramurals program, including flag football, dodgeball, kickball, softball, and more, while many student organizations keep active with clubs like martial arts, skiing, and lacrosse.