On September 11, 1935, Morris Harvey College relocated from Barboursville to Charleston. Founded in 1888 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South, the school was originally known as Barboursville Seminary. The seminary struggled financially until Fayetteville coal operator Morris Harvey paid off the school’s debt. In appreciation, the institution changed its name to Morris Harvey College.
By the 1930s, the school was again in debt. Dr. Leonard Riggleman pushed to move the college to Charleston, where it affiliated with Kanawha Junior College and Mason College of Music and Fine Arts. In 1941, Morris Harvey broke from the Methodist Church, becoming an independent college.
During World War II, Riggleman acquired a permanent campus—located across the Kanawha River from the state capitol. By the time he retired as college president in 1964, enrollment had surpassed 3,000. The next decade, however, brought more financial woes. In 1978, new President Thomas Voss dismissed faculty and renamed the school the University of Charleston—with little positive effect.
Over the last quarter-century, though, fortunes have turned around under President Edwin Welch, with the university adding new buildings and a school of pharmacy.