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History Impact


Fairmont State University’s roots reach back to the very formation of public education in the state of West Virginia. The first private normal school in West Virginia, the West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont, was established in Fairmont in 1865 by John N. Boyd, the school's first principal, to train teachers. And for nearly 160 years, Fairmont State has transformed the lives of students and communities.

The University experienced many changes in its name over the past 159 years, reflecting the ongoing, dynamic expansion of programs and purpose. What started as the West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont changed to Fairmont State Normal School in the 1870s, to Fairmont State Teachers College in 1931, to Fairmont State College in 1944, and finally to Fairmont State University in 2004.

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Today Fairmont State offers more than 40 baccalaureate degree programs and over 100 programs of study. The University offers graduate degree programs in the fields of architecture, business, education, healthcare, engineering, criminal justice, and national security and intelligence.

The University's changes in location in Fairmont reflect its continued growth and its ongoing commitment to serve this region. On February 27, 1867, the normal school became a state institution. 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 features two satellite locations in Harrison County, the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg, and 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.