The History of Western Carolina University

There is history in the valley of Cullowhee and in the last hundred years, the growth, prosperity and the need for higher education within the mountains of western Carolina communities demanded a school in which to receive a better education and learn. With the seemingly small community, the people within and surrounding areas came together with a common goal.

The members of the board of trustees and the community sought the need for higher education. Devoting themselves to the community in Western Carolina and the need for higher education, expanding the need for teachers within the western portion of North Carolina, persevered the "Cullowhee Idea ". Thus, the Cullowhee Academy began with just 18 students. By the end of the year, the school grew and enrolled over 100 students. The current single room schoolhouse couldn't accommodate the growing number of students, but the growth for education captivated the drive towards the next steps of WCU's prosperous moments in history. The beginning of Western Carolina University.

What is the timeline of how WCU became the 5th oldest institution of 16, 4-year universities in the UNC system? How did WCU become a major university from starting from 25 students as an academy nestled in the mountains of a small western Carolina town, to a major university of over 25,000 students and staff combined.

WCU became recognized as a statewide university after decades of growth. Through the many stages of evolution of WCU, it became the 5th oldest institution in the (UNC) universities of North Carolina school system. The school sought to educate pupils as teachers to the surrounding area. Elevating prosperity and educational growth in state of North Carolina, especially the rural community of Western NC. Providing teachers to over 15 surrounding counties of Western Carolina and creating a bigger footprint on the community. Students enrolled from across surrounding counties and even in and around the South Carolina Border.

In 1889, a man by the name of Robert Lee Madison, was posted to the region of Cullowhee and established Cullowhee Academy. What is Robert L. Madison's background to generate movement to the small town and cause so much growth that created what WCU is today? What was Robert Madison's Goals? What is Robert Madison's background to conquer such tasks at hand?

Robert Madison, aside from the rest of his family that pushed him to fall into the family line of doctors, he instead pursued education and worked for the town's local newspaper. Madison's hope and goals for higher education and institution came from growing up in Madison's childhood hometown. Where Madison had seen the growth of Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA, that had begun as an Academy and was able to commend such growth all while being stations in an isolated location without railroad facilities or good roads. Madison quoted, "What man has done man can do again."

Moving to the mountains of Western Carolina, Madison began teaching in the Qualla school community and soon thereafter, came to Cullowhee academy and took over the teacher's role and principles role. Through many struggles over the progression of Cullowhee academy and close to state closure of the school. Many presidents, chancellors, and men of the Noble nine had sacrificed their time and dedication to the education and growth of the Western Carolina University.

Cullowhee area in totality, holds history over thousands of years ago. Every creek and valley, every road, building and individual is connected to this community and helped grow this prosperous educational institution. What we know and call today, Western Carolina University.

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