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Our History

In its first 125 years, the University of Charleston has grown from a small seminary college to a nationally-recognized university comprised of four locations.

UC was founded by the Southern Methodist denomination in 1888 as Barboursville Seminary in Barboursville, W.Va., and became a college in 1889. In 1901, it was renamed Morris Harvey College in honor of a prominent donor. 

During the Great Depression, the college moved to Charleston to take advantage of the larger metropolitan area. As a result of the merger between the Methodist church North and South, the college disaffiliated from the denomination and Morris Harvey College became independent in 1942. 

From 1935 to 1947, the college was located in downtown Charleston, holding classes in several separate buildings. During these years, the college grew steadily, in part because of a merger with Kanawha Junior College and an affiliation with the Mason College of Fine Arts and Music. Recognizing the need for a unified campus, in 1947 construction of the present facilities began on the south bank of the Kanawha River. 

The Board of Trustees changed the name from Morris Harvey College to the University of Charleston on December 13, 1978. 

On August 1, 2012 the University announced it entered into an agreement to establish new locations in Beckley and Martinsburg, W.Va., to replace Mountain State University, which was slated to go out of business in a few months. By January 1, 2013 UC-Beckley, UC-Martinsburg and UC-Online joined UC-Charleston as part of the University of Charleston. In a matter of four months, UC grew to 32 academic programs, over 360 employees and approximately 2,000 students.  

The University serves the community as a focal point for numerous intellectual, scientific, cultural, athletic, and civic events. These interactions between the University and the community are vital to the achievement of the University's mission.  

For more information about the University's history, visit the UC Historical Almanac.