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History Impact


Fairmont State University’s roots reach back to the very formation of public education in West Virginia. Today’s university traces its roots to 1865, when the Male and Female Seminary was established at the Methodist Church. The Seminary transitioned to the first private normal (teachers) school in the state, the Regency of the West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont in 1866. John N. Boyd, one of the nine stockholders, served as the school's first principal, with the mission of training teachers for the newly created state’s public schools.

The University experienced more changes to its name over the intervening 159 years, reflecting the ongoing, dynamic expansion of programs and purpose: the private West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont became a public institution, Fairmont State Normal School, on February 27, 1867. In 1931, the School became Fairmont State Teachers College, then Fairmont State College in 1944, and most recently Fairmont State University in 2004.

The University's changes in location in Fairmont reflect its continued growth and its ongoing commitment to serve this region. Construction began on a brick building on the northwest corner of Adams and Quincy streets later that year. In 1893, the school moved into a new building on Second Street and Fairmont Avenue. In early 1917, the Fairmont State Normal School moved to the building now called Hardway Hall, which sits on a hill overlooking Locust Avenue.

The University's 120-acre main campus has expanded to include dozens of buildings while retaining its cozy, tree-filled, hilltop atmosphere. Fairmont State also features the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport.

From its first officially recorded enrollment of 30 students in 1868, Fairmont State has grown to be the third largest of the state's universities with an enrollment of about 2,900 students—most of whom are native West Virginians. In fact, Fairmont State University has a higher percentage of degree-seeking, native West Virginians than any other higher education institution in the state. Today, Fairmont State University has an alumni network of more than 40,000 Falcons proudly representing the University around the world.