History & Heritage
WCU's Golden History 

A long time ago (150 years to be exact), a group of Chester County’s civic leaders decided to open a school. On September 25, 1871, 100 boarding school students and 30 day students arrived for the first day of classes at West Chester Normal School.

If you’re wondering about that name, the founders weren’t implying that the new institution was average or ordinary. “Normal” simply meant a school that trained teachers. WCU is in good company: UCLA and Arizona State University are just two of the many institutions that also started as “normals.”

The school became West Chester State Teachers College when Pennsylvania initiated a four-year program of teacher education in 1927. The establishment of graduate studies accompanied the next name change in 1960: West Chester State College. The final name change – to West Chester University – occurred in 1983, when WCU became one of the 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Going into our 150th year, WCU is now home to more than 17,700 students enrolled in 118 undergraduate programs, 91 master’s degree programs, and four doctoral programs — a far cry from the original 130 teacher candidates!

Bookmark this 150th anniversary website and visit often to see additions to our timeline, new photos and videos, and stories about the foundations of the institution in the most recent issues of The West Chester University Magazine.

Join us as we count down to the official launch of West Chester University’s sesquicentennial in 2021.

150th Anniversary Profile
Larry Dowdy ’73, M’80

Larrys's Interview

WCU 150's Video Archive

wcu Sesquecentennial
Dorthea's Interview

150th Anniversary Profile
Dorthea "Sally" Hilner Breuninger
Class of 1944

 

 

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