Founded in 1856, Wilberforce can trace its orgins to a period before the Civil War. Wilberforce University is a private, coed liberal arts historically black university (HBCU) located in Wilberforce, Ohio. The University is named to honor the the abolitionist, William Wilberforce. He was a leader in the movement to stop the slave trade. Wilberforce worked for 26 years to get the Slave Act of 1807 passed in England.
Originally founded in 1856, Wilberforce University was the first college owned and operated by African-Americans had to close in 1862, when enrollment and financial support dwindled due to the student participation and challenges brought by the Civil War.
The Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) worked together in the planning of a college to provide education for black youth. The building of the current four year fully accredited liberal arts institution, re-opened its doors July 10, 1863.
The University has attracted top professors during its first years like W.E.B DuBois. In 1887, the State of Ohio began to fund the University by establishing a combined normal and industrial department. Central State University was establish as Wilberforce’s sister institution. Payne Theological Seminary was also a spin off of Wilberforce. It was founded in 1891.
Wilberforce offers 20 fully accredited liberal arts concentrations to students in business, communications, computing and engineering sciences, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. It offers a dual degree program in architecture, aerospace, and nuclear engineering in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati.
Wilberforce University also offers dual degree programs in electrical and mechanical engineering in cooperation with the University of Dayton. St. John’s University School of Law and Wilberforce provides a dual law program.
Currently, Wilberforce in facing an accreditation challenge. The very survival of the 155 year old institution is at stake.