Fairmont State University’s roots reach back to the formation of public education in the state of West Virginia. The first private normal school in West Virginia was established to train teachers in Fairmont in 1865 by John N. Boyd, the school’s first principal.
Over the past 150 years, the University has experienced many changes in name – from the West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont, to the Fairmont State Normal School in the 1870s, to Fairmont State Teachers College in 1931, to Fairmont State College in 1944, to Fairmont State University in 2004. These changes indicate an ongoing expansion of programs and purpose.
In 1923, the Fairmont State Normal School first offered a four-year bachelor’s degree program in education, making the school a college. Today Fairmont State University offers more than 80 programs of study in business, education, engineering and technology, fine arts, liberal arts, and nursing and allied health administration. Graduate programs have been developed in architecture, education, business, and criminal justice.
The University’s changes in location in Fairmont also reflect its continued growth. 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.
From that single columned building on a hill that was once part of a dairy farm, the University’s 120-acre campus has expanded to include more than 23 buildings. Over the past decade, new construction, including a new student center, parking garage, residence hall, and academic building, as well as major improvements in infrastructure, have greatly impacted the accessibility and beauty of campus. Fairmont State University features two locations in Harrison County, the Gaston Caperton Center in Clarksburg and the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport. Fairmont State University continues to look for ways to reach beyond the borders of West Virginia and the nation to build relationships.
From its first officially recorded enrollment of 30 students in 1868, Fairmont State University has grown to be one of the state’s largest universities with an enrollment of about 4,200 students. The first student, Hyre D. Clark of Buckhannon, graduated from the normal school in 1872. Today, Fairmont State University has an alumni network of more than 29,000 proud Falcons.