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Central State University was founded on this day in 1887 in Ohio. It is among over 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in America.
CSU’s history begins with its parent institution, Wilberforce University. It was established at Tawawa Springs, Ohio, and affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. It is one of the oldest Black-administered institutions of higher education in the nation.
In 1867, the Ohio General Assembly enacted legislation that created a Combined Normal and Industrial Department at Wilberforce University. The goals of this department were to provide teacher training, vocational education, and program stability with a financial base similar to that of other state-supported institutions. The statute establishing the Combined Normal and Industrial Department declared that the institution was "open to all applicants of good and moral character," thereby having no limitations as to race, color, sex, or creed. It was clear, however, that the design was to serve the educational needs of Black students. However, as part of Wilberforce University, a separate board of trustees was appointed to govern the state-financed operations.
In 1941, the department expanded from a two- to a four-year program. Six years later, it legally split from Wilberforce, becoming the College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce. The name was changed in 1951 to Central State College, and in 1965, the institution achieved university status. Charles H. Wesley, president of Wilberforce before the split in 1947, served as Central State's first president. His tenure lasted for almost two decades.