Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Marshall University is a public university based in Huntington, West Virginia. It was founded in 1837 as Marshall Academy, a private school at what today would be called the high school level, under the control of the Southern Methodist Church. It was renamed Marshall College in 1857 however the majority of its offerings remained below the college level. The church lost control of the college and it became a state institution in 1867. It was renamed Marshall University in 1961, although it had been acredited as a "university level institution" for many decades prior to that.
In 2004 the school had an enrollment of 16,500. In addition to the main campus in Huntington, the school maintains a graduate-level branch campus in South Charleston, West Virginia, and undergraduate centers in Gilbert, West Virginia, Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Hurricane, West Virginia.
Marshall University also operates the Robert C. Byrd Institute, with operations on both the Huntington and South Charleston campuses, as well as in Fairmont, West Virginia, and Rocket Center, West Virginia . The goal of the Institue is the transfer technology from the academic departments to private industry with the goal of job development.
Old Main, which now serves as the primary administrative building for the university, was built on land known as Maple Grove in what was then Virginia. John Laidley , a local lawyer, hosted the meeting which lead to the founding of the academy. He named the academy after his friend, John Marshall, who served as the fourth Chief Justice of the United States from January 1801 until July 1835.
In 1863 the western counties of Virginia officially formed the State of West Virginia, and in the legislature of West Virginia created the State Normal School of Marshall College. The colleges today known as Concord University, Shepherd University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, and West Liberty State College were all founded as branches of the State Normal School and eventually spun off from Marshall. Southern West Virginia Community College also was once a Marshall branch.
Forty-years later, in 1907, enrollment surpassed 1,000 students.
In 1938, the college officially began granting Master's degrees in chemistry, education, history, political science, psychology, and sociology. In that year the school was acredited as a "university level institution" however the renaming of the school would remain a contensious political issue for decades to come.
In 1937, the college suffered through a devastating flooding by the Ohio River. The city of Huntington later built a floodwall to protect both the college and downtown city businesses from future flooding.
In 1961, the state legislature finally created Marshall University. Governor W. W. Baron signed the legislation at the university the day after it passed the legislature, on March 2, 1961. Interestingly, the student newspaper, the Parthenon, prepared two frontpages for the day, depending on the outcome of the legislature's vote. The renaming of the college had been biterly opposed by supporters of West Virginia University, who had blocked the measure for many years.
In 1969, the university's athletic program, facing a number of scandals, fired both its football and basketball coaches and was suspended from the Mid-American Conference and from the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The university respectably rebuilt its athletic program over the next several years, and in 1977, the university joined the Southern Conference.
In 1970, the entire football team and several community members were killed in an airplane crash. They were returning, on November 14, after playing East Carolina University. In 1972, the university built and named a new student union, the Memorial Student Center, in honor of the team. The plaza of the center has a fountain which is does not flow from November 14 until the first day of spring football practice the following year. Also, all flags throughout West Virginia fly at half-staff on the anniversary of the crash.
In 1977 the university founded its School of Medicine, the first professional school and the first doctoral program. Over the next 20 years the school would add doctoral programs in many fields.
In 1998, the John Deaver Drinko Library opened on campus. The center includes a 24-hour study center and a coffee shop, and has both wired and wireless networking throughout the building. John Deaver Drinko graduated from the university in 1942.
In 2005, the university is expected to open a state-of-the-art biotechnological sciences center.
The University is also attempting to collect donations to create a chair position for what will be the Simon D. Perry Academic Program on Constitutional Democracy . It is It is designed to study the impact of major American constitution builders and the role of constitutional democracy in the evolution of America’s political and civic life. The program includes four new core courses developed by Perry, as well as 18 other courses offered in a variety of academic disciplines including history, English, philosophy, sociology and political science. The Gilley Scholar , named for former Marshall president J. Wade Gilley , will be a full-time professor assigned to the program.
Marshall's sports teams are known as the Thundering Herd; the school's mascot is an American Bison (buffalo). The school colors are green and white. Marshall participates in NCAA Division I (I-A for football) as a member of the Mid-American Conference (MAC), but will join Conference USA in 2005.
Marshall's most prominent program in recent decades has been its football program. In the years after the 1970 crash, Marshall built its football program into one of the most powerful in Division I-AA. Its stay in Division I-AA ended in 1996 with an undefeated national championship season.
The following year (1997), Marshall rejoined the MAC. The Herd proceeded to win the conference's football championship that season, behind an explosive offense led by quarterbacks Chad Pennington (now the New York Jets' starter), Byron Leftwich (now the Jacksonville Jaguars' starter) and receiver Randy Moss (now a superstar with the Oakland Raiders). In 1998, Moss had departed for the NFL, but Pennington was still at Marshall, leading the Herd to another MAC title and an unbeaten season. By 2000, Marshall extended its string of MAC titles to four. The Herd lost in the MAC championship game in 2001, but won the conference title again in 2002.
In 2003, Marshall renamed its football stadium Joan C. Edwards Stadium, honoring a major donor to the university and its athletic program. The facility became the first football stadium in Division I-A to be named after a woman.
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