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.

See how WCU President Christopher Fiorentino kicked off the anniversary year with fanfare on September 17.

150th Anniversary Commemorative Boxes

COmmemorative Box

Continue the legacy of supporting student success with your purchase of our 150th Anniversary Commemorative Keepsake Box! Proceeds of sales go toward the Purple and Gold Fund, which provides flexible resources to meet areas of greatest need and emerging opportunities in support of WCU’s strategic initiatives — a gift that contributes to lasting change.

This Commemorative Keepsake Box offers a collection of items unavailable anywhere else including a 150th Anniversary challenge coin, a 150th Anniversary lapel pin, a purple ceramic campfire mug, a softbound journal, and more! Purchased boxes will be mailed directly to you.

Only 150 boxes will be sold.

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