Affiliation Press Release


Wheeling Jesuit University to Realign Academic
Programs and Assume New Catholic Identity

Aims to Prepare Students for 21st Century Economy
and Serve the Needs of West Virginians

With the aim of realigning its academic programs to better equip students for the 21st Century economy, while refocusing to emphasize core academic programs in health sciences, business administration and education, the Board of Directors and the Maryland Province for the Society of Jesus have determined that Wheeling Jesuit University will end its Jesuit affiliation at the end of the current academic year. The decision in no way impacts the academic credentials of past, present or future students, or changes its distinctive Roman Catholic identity. The decision follows recent announcements that the current academic profile of the University and related cost structure are no longer sustainable given declining student interest in other disciplines and the resulting inability to maintain majors in Theology and Philosophy. As a result, the Jesuit sponsorship of Wheeling Jesuit is ending and a new relationship between the Jesuits and the University to ensure an ongoing Jesuit presence and influence is being finalized. Details will be communicated in due course.

“As the university confronts challenging circumstances, our commitment to living our mission by serving our students remains steadfast. While an end to Jesuit sponsorship is difficult for all, refocusing our academic program on those areas that reflect the intersection of the faculty’s expertise, student and workforce demands, and financial sustainability is the best path forward for the university and our students,” said Wheeling Jesuit University President Michael P. Mihalyo, Jr. “We are grateful that we will be able to maintain a Jesuit presence and influence and continue our rich Catholic tradition.”

The re-branded University (the new name of which is yet to be determined) will continue to offer Mass and Catholic campus ministry at the Chapel of Mary and Joseph, while the Ignatian ideals of service and Catholic teachings on social justice will also continue at the Appalachian Institute, named to honor Rev. Clifford M. Lewis, the first Jesuit to reside in Wheeling in 1953. Rooted in Jesuit tradition, the Institute facilitates objective conversation around topics pertinent to the region, including: public health, environment, energy, culture, and community development. In addition, the Institute’s programs promote research, service, and advocacy for and with the people of Appalachia to build healthier, stronger, and more sustainable communities. Additionally, the Jesuits will continue to administer Campus Ministry and retreat programs.

Father Robert Hussey, S.J., Provincial Superior of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, stated: “The Jesuits are deeply grateful for the opportunity we have had to contribute to the important mission of Wheeling Jesuit University over many years. The Maryland Province understands that a reorganization of the university is necessary to provide for a vibrant future and regrets that this will not allow our Jesuit affiliation to continue beyond the current academic year. We recognize this will be a difficult transition but wish the university much success in the years ahead of serving the people of West Virginia and beyond.”

The College was founded in 1953 by the fourth bishop of Wheeling, Archbishop John Joseph Swint, who named it “Wheeling College” and subsequently invited the Jesuits to administer the institution. In 1988, Fr. Thomas Acker renamed the University as “Wheeling Jesuit College,” and in 1996, he changed the name again to current-day “Wheeling Jesuit University.” Additional details about the new name of the University and further programmatic redesign will be made available at the earliest opportunity, following required discussions with the institution’s accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission.