WHEELING JESUIT UNIVERSITY HISTORICAL FACTS
Officially incorporated as Wheeling College on September 25, 1954, WJU is the youngest of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S., and the first and only Catholic institute of higher education in West Virginia.
While Wheeling Jesuit University has been serving the needs of its constituencies for the past 58 years, the roots of our commitment and friendship with this region reach back to the 19th Century in the mission of the Catholic Church and, in particular, the Society of Jesus.
Having arrived in Maryland in 1634, the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order known for it schools and scholarship, was approached in 1846 by Bishop Richard Whelan who desired to establish a college in the Wheeling Diocese. A century later, through the generosity of Sara Tracy, the Diocese was able to act on Bishop Whelan's vision and purchase 60 acres of land from the Sisters of the Visitation, who operated the Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy until its closure in 2010.
With the land secured, Archbishop John J. Swint of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese requested and received assistance from the Maryland Province Jesuits. Archbishop Swint formally proposed Wheeling College on May 27, 1953, and the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Most Reverend John Baptist Janssens, approved the request on July 4, 1953.
Rev. Clifford M. Lewis, S.J., the first Jesuit to reside in Wheeling, arrived in February 1953 as the "Educational Representative of the Maryland Province." Fr. Lewis, an educator, author, lecturer, historian and archeologist, also was largely responsible for raising the money to supplement Archbishop Swint's original benefaction to the college. The first faculty member, Fr. Lewis also served as archivist, as special assistant to the first four presidents, and as the first director of public relations, alumni relations and development. Fr. Lewis was first and foremost a "great simple man" who said "yes" to the call of God and dreamed of a campus that would, in his own words, "provide independent enlightenment to tomorrow's problems."
The groundbreaking ceremony occurred November 24, 1953, and construction of Swint Hall, Donahue Hall and Whelan Hall began a few months later. These initial three buildings grew from Sara Tracy's legacy left to Bishop Donahue. A Jesuit organizing committee set up a temporary college center in the former St. Michael's rectory and church on Edgington Lane. Reverend Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J., became the first President.
Dr. Debra Townsley
Eleventh President, January 2017 to present
Dr. Debra Townsley has more than 30 years experience working in higher education. She last spent five years as president of William Peace University in Raleigh, N.C., a job from which she retired in June 2015. She has also served as president of Nichols College in Dudley, Mass.
Townsley has held faculty positions at Marymount University of Virginia, Northern Virginia Community College and St. Michael's College in Vermont.
Dr. Townsley most recently served five years as president of William Peace University in Raleigh, NC. Over her five-year tenure at WPU, Dr. Townsley increased undergraduate enrollment by 40 percent, increased graduate enrollment by more than 300 percent, and improved retention by nine percent.
She has a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Vermont, where she also received a master's degree in psychology. She earned a second master's from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and bachelor's degrees from American University.
|Very Rev. Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J.
|Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J.
|Rev. William F. Troy, S.J.
|Rev. Joseph R. Hacala, S.J.
|Rev. Frank R. Haig, S.J.
|Rev. Julio Giulietti, S.J.
|Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J.
|Richard A. Beyer
|Rev. Thomas S. Acker, S.J.
|Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J.
|Dr. Debra Townsley 2017-|
|Presidents||Board of Directors - Chairs|
|1954-1959 Rev. Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J.||1971-1976 Rev. Joseph A. Burke, S.J|
|1959-1966 Rev. William F. Troy, S.J.||1976-1979 Thomas J. Whyte|
|1966-1972 Rev. Frank R. Haig, S.J.||1979-1980 Dr. Forrest Kirkpatrick|
|1972-1982 Rev. Charles L. Currie, S.J.||1980-1982 Gill B. Frederick|
|1982-2000 Rev. Thomas S. Acker, S.J.||1982-1993 Donald H. Hofreuter, M.D.|
|2000-2003 Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J.||1993-1994 Philip C. Kirby (Interim)|
|2003-2006 Rev. Joseph R. Hacala, S.J.||1994-2000 Philip C. Kirby|
|2006-2007 Dr. James Birge (Interim)||2000-2003 Thomas Marchlen, Esq.|
|2007-2009 Rev. Julio Giulietti, S.J.||2003-2008 Col. Carol A. Yarnall, USAF (Ret)|
|2009-2010 J. Davitt McAteer (Acting)||2008-2009 William G. Fisher, CPA|
|2010 Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill (Interim)||2009-2013 Margaret "Mimie" Helm|
|2011-2013 Richard A. Beyer||2013-2015 Christopher Helmrath|
|2013-2017 Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J.||2015-2017 William Bresnahan, Esq.|
|2017- Dr. Debra Townsley||2017- Rev. Msgr. Kevin Quirk, J.C.D., '89|
|Academic Deans||Board of Trustees - Chairmen|
|1954-1959 Rev. Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J.||1971-1976 Rev. Joseph A. Burke, S.J|
|1955-1959 Rev. William F. Troy, S.J.||1954-1959 Rev. Lawrence R. McHugh, S.J.|
|1959-1961 Rev. Philip A. McGreevy, S.J.||1959-1966 Rev. William F. Troy, S.J.|
|1961-1963 Rev. John J. Schneider, S.J.||1966-1970 Rev. Frank R. Haig, S.J.|
|1963-1964 Rev. James F. Muldowney, S.J.||1970-1973 Rev. Hugh E. Dunn, S.J.|
|1964-1970 Rev. Joseph A. Burke, S.J. 1973-1976||Rev. Joseph A. Burke, S.J.|
|1970-1975 Dr. Thomas G. Wack 1976-1978||Rev. Thomas F. Gleeson, S.J.|
|1975-1977 Rev. John D. Cuddigan, S.J.||1978-1979 Rev. William B. Neenan, S.J.|
|1977-1980 Dr. Daniel A. Felicetti||1979-1983 Rev. Albert H. Jenemann, S.J.|
|1980-1986 Dr. Jeanne Kammer Neff||1983-1986 Rev. William C. McInnes, S.J.|
|1986-1987 Dr. Betty F. Thacker||1986-1990 Rev. James F. Salmon, S.J.|
|1987-1990 Dr. John J. McDonald||1990-2001 Rev. Joseph A. Burke, S.J.|
|1990-1997 Dr. Normand J. Paulhus||2001-2004 Rev. Joseph J. Hayden, S.J.|
|1997-1998 Dr. Richard C. Hirst||2004-2008 Rev. Robert L. Niehoff, S.J.|
|1998-1999 Dr. Debra B. Hull||2008-20?? Rev. Gerard Stockhausen, S.J.|
|1999-2005 Dr. Julianne Maher|
|2005-2010 Dr. Letha Zook|
|2010-2013 Dr. Stephen D. Stahl|
|2014-2017 Dr. Robert J. Phillips|
|1955-1959 Raymond E. Cawthorne||1954-1963 Josephine Savaro|
|1959-1962 John R.||1963-2001 Eileen Carpino|
|1962-1963 Rev. John J. Schneider, S.J. (Acting)||2001-2006 Barbi G. Lehn|
|1963-1964 Joseph G. Burns||2006- Kelly L. Mummert|
|1964-1967 Charles E. Fye|
|1967-1972 Thomas P. McCarthy|
|1972-1996 Katherine L. McCready|
|1996-2003 Brent A. Koerber|
|2003 Misti M. Michael (Acting)|
|2004-2009 Chad R. Carter|
|2009-2011 Rick West|
|2011-2015 Joy R. Cronin|
|2015- Wilson Turner|
|1954||Founded by Bishop Swint of the Diocese of Wheeling and the Jesuit Fathers of the Maryland Province.
Certificate of Incorporation: September 25th.
|1955||Chartered by the state of West Virginia.
Men and women admitted to first freshman class.
|1959||First graduating class.|
|1962||Initial accreditation as a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.
Inaugurated intercollegiate basketball, Wheeling College Cardinals.
|1970||First lay Academic Dean.|
|1975||Adult Education Program/Evening Division established.
First clinical science programs approved.
|1976||Bachelor of Science in Nursing program approved.|
|1978||Graduate business courses added; MBA program begun.|
|1981||Laut scholarship program begun.First competitive scholarship given by the College.|
|1983||English Language Institute begun.|
|1984||Master of Religious Education program started.
On December 15th, the first Mass was celebrated by Bishop Joseph Hodges in the Chapel of Mary and Joseph.
|1985||Bishop Francis B. Schulte dedicated the Chapel of Mary and Joseph on September 15th.|
|1988||Word "Jesuit" is added to make College name Wheeling Jesuit College.|
|1989||Physical Therapy program approved.
First Capital Campaign Complete: A Force for Excellence. Achieved: $10,000,000
|1990||Federal funding approved through NASA for Classroom of the Future and the National Technology Transfer Center.|
|1993||Master programs established in Nursing Administration, Physical Therapy, and Commercialization and Technology Transfer.
Alma Grace McDonough Health and Recreation Center completed.
|1994||New Mission Statement adopted by Board of Directors.
Completion of Ignatius Hall.
Completion of the Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies.
Center for Educational Technologies Dedicated.
|1995||Completion of the Robert C. Byrd National Technology Transfer Center.|
|1995||Federal funding approved by the National Institute of Justice for Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization.|
|1996||Name changed to Wheeling Jesuit University.|
|1997||Completion of running track, grandstand, press box, and field lighting.
Total renovation of Swint Hall completed.
Dedication of the Robert C. Byrd, National Technology Transfer Center and naming of the Erma Ora Byrd, Center for Educational Technologies.
|1998||Dedication and naming of the Troy Theater for the second president, Father William F. Troy, S.J.|
|1999||Student Center in Swint Hall named for William and Alyce Cafaro.
Dedication of the outdoor athletic complex: James LaRosa softball and soccer field, the Bill Van Horne Grandstand, and the Mrs. Lenore Joseph Press Box.
Lantz Farm in Jacksonburg, West Virginia, for a retreat and nature preserve gifted to Wheeling Jesuit University.
|2000||Philip and Evelyn Kirby Hall and John and Mary McShain Admissions Center Dedicated.
Phase II grandstands completed.
Steenrod Graduate Housing completed.
|2001||Inauguration of Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J., Ph.D., sixth president of Wheeling Jesuit University.|
|2002||Dedication of the Thomas S. Acker, S.J., Science Center and the expansion of the Erma Ora Byrd Center for Educational Technologies.|
|2003||Rev. Joseph R. Hacala, S.J., named seventh president of Wheeling Jesuit University.|
|2004||Celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Wheeling Jesuit University.|
|2005||Accelerated Certification for Teaching Program established.
Community Alert Online initiated.
|2006||Dedication of Hawk Auditorium.|
|2007||Rev. Julio Giulietti, S.J., installed as eighth president of Wheeling Jesuit University
Master of Science in Organizational Leadership Program established.
|2008||University's Charleston Center opens.|
|2011||Richard Allen Beyer named ninth and first lay president of Wheeling Jesuit University|
Rev. James Fleming S.J. named tenth president of Wheeling Jesuit University
|2014||Bishop Schmitt Field is dedicated
Cardinal Commons Housing complex opens on Washington Avenue
|2016||Partnership in education announced between the University and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston|