Fun facts about Wilberforce University


Founded in 1856, Wilberforce University is one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the United States. Named after the renowned abolitionist William Wilberforce, this private liberal arts university has a rich and storied history. From its role in the Underground Railroad to its distinction as the first HBCU to be owned and operated by African Americans, Wilberforce has played an integral part in the education and empowerment of African Americans for over a century and a half. In this blog post, we’ll explore some fun facts about Wilberforce University and delve into the history and culture of this remarkable institution.

Fun facts about Wilberforce University.

The Underground Railroad and Wilberforce University

One of the most fascinating aspects of Wilberforce University’s history is its connection to the Underground Railroad. The university was founded just a few years before the start of the American Civil War, and its location in southwestern Ohio made it a key stop on the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses used by enslaved African Americans to escape to freedom in the North. Wilberforce’s founder, Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, was a vocal abolitionist who used his position to help fugitive slaves, and many of the university’s early faculty members and students were also involved in the Underground Railroad.

Wilberforce’s role in the Underground Railroad is commemorated on campus with the Underground Railroad and Freedom Center, a museum that tells the story of the university’s connection to this important chapter in American history. The center features exhibits on the Underground Railroad, as well as artifacts and documents related to Wilberforce’s history and legacy.

The Legacy of Alumni from Wilberforce University

Over the years, Wilberforce University has produced many notable alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions to a wide range of fields. Among them are civil rights activists, politicians, educators, and entrepreneurs. Some of the most famous Wilberforce alumni include:

Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Paul Laurence Dunbar, renowned poet and writer

John Mercer Langston, the first black congressman from Virginia

Charles Young, the first African American colonel in the U.S. Army

Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress

Kamala Harris, the first black and South Asian woman elected Vice President of the United States

These and many other Wilberforce alumni have made their mark on history, and their achievements serve as a testament to the university’s commitment to education and social justice.

The Academic Programs and Achievements of Wilberforce University

Wilberforce University offers a wide range of academic programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. Some of the most popular majors include business, education, psychology, and computer science. The university also offers a number of graduate programs, including a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and a Master of Science in Information Technology.

In recent years, Wilberforce has made significant strides in improving its academic programs and facilities. The university has received several grants and awards for its STEM programs, and its new state-of-the-art Science Center is equipped with cutting-edge laboratories and research facilities. Wilberforce has also expanded its online and distance learning programs, making its high-quality education more accessible to students from around the world.


In conclusion, Wilberforce University is a remarkable institution with a rich history and a bright future. From its role in the Underground Railroad to its distinguished alumni and innovative academic programs, Wilberforce has played a vital role in the education and empowerment of African Americans for over 160 years. As the university continues to grow and evolve, it remains committed to its mission of providing a high-quality education that prepares students to make a positive impact on the world.