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*This date in 1895 marks the founding of Bluefield State College.
One of over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in America, it was established as a Black teachers college by an act of the West Virginia Legislature. In February of that year, Senator William M. Mahood sponsored the bill.
To offset segregated public schools in the coal camps, mindful Black and white citizens worked together to establish Bluefield Colored Institute, a "high graded school for Negroes". The new school, assisted by the federal Morrill Act, was to be located on four acres on the north side of the Norfolk and Western Railway's massive Pocahontas Division rail yards in Bluefield, a central location within 100 miles of 70% of West Virginia's Black citizens.
Bluefield Colored Institute began with 40 pupils under the supervision of Hamilton Hatter, Bluefield State's first president, although he was denied the prestigious title, instead serving as "principal." Hatter oversaw the construction of Mahood Hall, the administrative building, as well as Lewis Hall and West Hall dormitories. Hatter was an energetic leader who built the foundation of the College. Bluefield State College was integrated after 1954. By the 1960's they had a comprehensive four-year program of teacher education, arts and sciences, and engineering technology.
Gradually a variety of two-year technical programs were developed in response to local needs. Bluefield State College has emerged as a four-year state-supported commuter college serving southeastern West Virginia with a primary driving force in the direction of career, technical, two and four year programs. The liberal arts offerings are focused to enhance its unique mission. The college offers baccalaureate and associate degrees. Also they have instructional programs in engineering technologies, business, teacher education, arts and sciences, nursing and health science professions, and a variety of career fields.
Students may also complete the non-traditional Regents Bachelor of Arts degree through Bluefield State College. The school's strength is the two-plus-two design of many of its baccalaureate level curriculum whereby the two years completed for an associate degree are completely applicable toward the baccalaureate degree. Bluefield State College is also dedicated to offering a wide variety of off campus courses.
The Community and Technical College component of Bluefield State College focuses on the career-technical objectives of the institution and works within a seven county region of southeast West Virginia including the counties of Mercer, Greenbrier, Monroe, McDowell, Raleigh, Pocahontas, and Summers. Certificates, associate degrees and many of the plus-two baccalaureate degrees are presented through the Community and Technical College component.
The Center for Economic Enhancement and Occupational Skill Development provides educational opportunities for customized job training seminars. Also workshops for current and future employees of business and industry are offered through Bluefield’s community enrichment programs.
Black American Colleges and Universities:
Profiles of Two-Year, Four-Year, & Professional Schools
by Levirn Hill, Pub., Gale Group, 1994