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After the Civil War, schools to educate African-Americans began to be established. The second Morrill Act of 1890 dictated that the governor and legislative body of West Virginia establish such a school in their state. A site was chosen in Institute, which was then known as Piney Grove. From there Booker T. Washington's influence on the fledgling school began.

In 1891 West Virginia Colored Institute was founded. In 1909 Mr. Washington recommended Byrd Prillerman, a friend and noted educator, to be its first president. During Prillerman's tenure, Mr. Washington was a guest lecturer many times, and his educational style at Tuskegee Institute was modeled at the new school. Students built all buildings, performed janitorial duties, and studied everything from agriculture to sewing. It was during Prillerman's presidency that the name of the college was changed to West Virginia Collegiate Institute, and in 1915 was given the authority to grant college degrees.

In 1927, the name of the institution was again changed and became known as West Virginia State College. Mr. Washington's influence on the school and the state was such, though, that a bill was introduced in the legislature in 1933 to again change the name of the school, this time to Booker T. Washington State College. The bill was defeated, however, because pride in the college was so tremendous that alumni, faculty and students vigorously protested a name change. The institution has remained West Virginia State since.

Today, West Virginia State University stands as a "Living Laboratory of Human Relations," blending a diverse population of students, faculty and staff together to promote education and the betterment and understanding of the human race and condition. Booker T. Washington's touch on West Virginia State College is reflected everyday in each student that comes across its threshold.
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