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Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU)

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Central State University

Central State University

Location: Wilberforce, Ohio
School Size: 5,298 undergraduate students
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William Wilberforce, an abolitionist, inspired the name of Wilberforce University, which was founded in his honor to build Central State University. It was established at Tawawa Springs, Ohio, in 1856 and is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church. It is one of the nation's oldest Black-led higher education institutions and the state's oldest. The Ohio General Assembly founded Wilberforce University's Combined Normal and Industrial Department in 1887. Among the goals of this new state-sponsored department were to provide teacher training and vocational education and stabilize these programs by establishing a financial base equivalent to that of other institutions. The Act founding the Combined Normal and Industrial Department expressly specified that the school would be "open to all candidates of good and moral character," meaning that there would be no discrimination based on race, color, gender, or religious affiliation.

Nonetheless, it was evident to all that the Department of Education, like its predecessors, was founded to satisfy the educational needs of African American students. The department's state-funded operations were governed by a separate board of trustees, even though they were nominally a part of Wilberforce University in most respects. In 1941, a four-year curriculum was established. The department was legally separated from Wilberforce University the following year, resulting in the establishment the College of Education and Industrial Arts at Wilberforce. In 1951, the college changed its name to Central State College, and in 1965, the institution was given university status.