December 2, 2020

History and Heritage at 150 Years:

West Chester University Prepares for Its Sesquicentennial

West Chester University Old Main 1912Sesquicentennial: one of the funniest words to say out loud, and one that West Chester University will use from now through the end of the 2021 academic year in celebration of its 150th anniversary.

At the threshold of the University’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in 2021, elements of WCU’s history and the upcoming celebrations have been curated on a 150th anniversary website that has just been launched. 

Although its roots date back to the West Chester Academy, founded in 1812, the institution that became West Chester University was chartered as West Chester Normal School in 1870 and opened for its first classes in September 1871.

Why “Normal”? In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the word “normal” was applied to institutions that trained teachers.

Four eras define the institution’s evolution: West Chester Normal School/State Normal School, 1871-1926; West Chester State Teachers College, 1926-1960; West Chester State College, 1960-1983; and West Chester University, 1983-present. Each era saw changes in curriculum and extra-curricular activities including sports; growth in student and faculty populations, campus size, and diversity; and an expanding relationship with both local and global communities.

Throughout, student success has remained at the forefront. It is reflected in WCU’s current strategic plan, Pathways to Student Success.

Check out the brief introductory video and the historic, vintage, and current photos on the timeline. Alumni, students, employees, and retirees of WCU are invited to share memories of their time on campus in text and photos on social media using #WCU150. Some of those submissions will be collected for future posting on the sesquicentennial website.

History and Heritage at 150 Years: West Chester University Prepares for Its Sesquicentennial

What is WCU planning to acknowledge this milestone?

  • Recognition of the original charter for the institution in March 2021.
  • Publication of a book commemorating WCU’s first 150 years.
  • Anniversary merchandise.
  • Social media fun.
  • Celebratory videos released in chapters on the sesquicentennial website.
  • Campus events including a 150th anniversary celebration in fall 2021.

Visit the University’s sesquicentennial website often for updates, including specific event information, regular postings of photos and stories, and memories and mementos from alumni and retirees.

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