A History of WVU Parkersburg
WVU Parkersburg was founded in 1961 as the Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University. In 1971, it became Parkersburg Community College, one of the state’s first comprehensive community colleges. Three years later, the college established its Jackson County Center in Ripley. The institution was renamed West Virginia University at Parkersburg in 1989 and rejoined WVU as a regional campus. State legislation created a statewide network of independently-accredited community and technical colleges in 2008. This allowed WVU Parkersburg to become an independent institution while maintaining affiliation with WVU.
An enthusiastic group of individuals meet at the Wood County Courthouse to advocate for a Parkersburg institution of higher learning. Later, a 30-person committee was formed to assist in the pursual of such an establishment.
The Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University opens in the old Madison school building at the intersection of Emerson Avenue and 31st Street; 104 students enroll in classes.
Wood County citizens pass a bond issue that, with matching federal funds, provides $3.6 million to build an educational complex provided by the Wood County Court.
The branch’s first commencement ceremony is held in the First United Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary. There are 37 students in the graduating class, all receiving Associate in Arts degrees.
The first WVU Parkersburg Center nursing graduates receive their diplomas in May.
The institution becomes Parkersburg Community College following legislative action to create a comprehensive community college system for West Virginia of two freestanding community colleges.
The college hires Madame Shao Fang Sheng, the first native of China to teach at Parkersburg Community College. Madame Shao Fang Sheng was a well-known artist, especially for her watercolors, and studied under Frank Lloyd Wright (one of his few apprentices).
The Jackson County and Tri-County centers are opened in Ripley, W.Va. and Sistersville, W.Va respectively to offer off-campus enrollment.
Parkersburg Community College hosts California Governor Ronald Reagan on May 4, 1976 during his presidential primary campaign. In 1984, he makes another visit to Wood County, as president, and speaks at the Parkersburg High School field house.
Dedication Weekends marks the West Virginia Legislature establishing the college as West Virginia University at Parkersburg, a regional campus of West Virginia University. The $3.9 million multi-purpose facility also opens, which consisted of an assembly hall, cafeteria, classrooms, meeting rooms and a teleconference room.
The new Jackson County Center opens.
The Caperton Center of Applied Technology opens, featuring a unique partnership of education, business, industry and labor between the public and higher education.
West Virginia legislation establishes a new governance structure for state community colleges. WVU Parkersburg becomes an independent institution while maintaining an association with West Virginia University.
WPKM 96.3 The Beet first airs at WVU Parkersburg becoming the state’s first community college radio station.
The WVU Parkersburg Entrepreneur Center hosts its grand opening on September 6 in the Workforce & Economic Development building. The center provides public access to technologies such as 3D printing, CNC machining, laser cutting, Arduino (electronic prototyping platform), industrial-capable sewing and more.
The college bell is originally from the Emerson Avenue school building where the Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia was established in the fall of 1961. It is used in campus ceremonies, including Commencement.