History of WJU


2010:

  • Feb. 8  - Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill succeeded J. Davitt McAteer as interim president.
  • Aug. 26  - The athletic department announced that women's lacrosse will be added to WJU's athletic program starting with the 2011-12 academic year.
  • Oct. 22  - WJU Board of Directors announced that Richard Allen Beyer will become the university's ninth president and first lay person in the institution's history.

2011:

  • Jan. 1  - Richard Allen Beyer officially became first lay person to serve as president in WJU history.

Image of Richard Beyer

9th President - Richard Allen Beyer
Presidency: January 1, 2011 - June 30, 2013

Rick Beyer, a successful business executive, was chosen as the ninth president of Wheeling Jesuit University in October 2010. He had over 23 years of senior executive office experience and more than 16 years of experience in higher education, including board governance, strategic planning and financial modeling, before joining WJU. 

Born April 12, 1957, during his presidency, he initiated a university strategic planning process. Enrollment reached record levels, alumni and corporate support significantly increased, and new fine arts, engineering and health sciences programs were established.

He previously served on the board of trustees at the American University in Washington, D.C. was chairman of the board of trustees for his alma mater, Olivet College in Michigan, and is a member of the board of directors at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB), a national higher education governance organization.

Beyer was the first non-Jesuit president to serve at WJU.


  • Feb. 23  - A Master's in Educational Leadership degree is launched.
  • September  - WJU retired its longstanding "Flaming W" logo; University's seal colors slightly altered.
  • Sept. 13  - U.S. News & World Report ranked WJU as one of "Americas Best Colleges" for the 15th consecutive year.
  • Sept. 19  - Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael J. Bransfield announced a $1.2 million dollar gift to WJU to assist with student recruitment.
  • Sept. 29  - President Beyer is inaugurated in the Alma Grace McDonough Center.
  • Oct. 14  - A new campus coffee shop, serving Starbucks Coffee, opened in Swint Hall.
  • Nov. 19  - For the first time in the university's history, the Wheeling Jesuit University volleyball team wins the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Championship and advances to the NCAA's Elite Eight.
  • Dec. 13  - President Beyer & Athletic Director Danny Sancomb announced rugby will return to WJU in 2012 after an 18 year hiatus.
  • Dec. 20  - Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J., WJU's sixth president (2000-2003), died at age 64 after suffering a stroke.

2012:

  • August  - Rev. James O'Brien marked 50 years at WJU. O'Brien is the longest-serving Jesuit in the university's history.
  • Aug. 20  - The university will leave the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) and joined the newly formed Mountain East (athletic) Conference. The conference change took effect in the 2013-14 academic year.
  • Sept. 24  - The Lundy Lounge is dedicated in the Acker Science Center in memory of sixth president Rev. George F. Lundy, S.J. who served from 2000-2003.
  • Oct. 23  - Plans are announced to establish the Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music at Wheeling Jesuit University.
  • Dec. 21  - Wrestling is added to WJU's athletic program.

2013:

  • Jan. 19  - The university announced the creation of a new four-year engineering degree.
  • Feb. 20  - A multimillion dollar campaign was announced to renovate the outdoor athletic field. The field will be named "Bishop Schmitt Field" after seventh Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Bernard W. Schmitt.
  • March 7  - The Board of Trustees announced that Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J. will become the institutions 10th president effective July 1, 2013.
  • April 3  - President Beyer announced that the WJU Physical Therapy Department will move from the McDonough Center to the Stone Center in downtown Wheeling.
  • May 13  - The university created the College of Arts & Sciences and College of Health Sciences naming Dr. Helen Faso & Dr. Robert Phillips deans of the two colleges.
  • May 28  - WJU received a $35,000 grant from the Congregation of St. Joseph to open a patient simulator lab in Donahue Hall.
  • July 1  - Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J. became 10th president.

Image of James Fleming

10th President - Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J., Ph.D.
Presidency: July 1, 2013 - January 3, 2017


Prior to becoming the university's tenth president, Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J., Ph.D. served as executive vice president under ninth WJU President Richard A. Beyer.

Before joining Wheeling Jesuit in July 2010, Fr. Fleming was on staff at Boston College for ten years. He served as director of mission planning and assessment from 2004-2010, where he developed and oversaw the implementation of a strategic planning process for the office. From 2000-2004, he was an assistant professor in the Lynch School of Education.

The author of numerous articles and publications, Fleming earned a Ph.D. in educational policy analysis at the University of California, Berkeley in 1999, where he was awarded the Wilson Research Fellowship and the Edgar and Camilla Morphet Fellowship.

Fleming was born Feb. 20, 1960 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1983 and was ordained a priest in 1995. As a Jesuit educator, Fleming has dedicated his life to academic investigation, service to and with the poor and spiritual reflection. He follows in a long line of Jesuits dedicated to bringing their academic and spiritual preparation to the Upper Ohio River Valley.


  • Summer  - Father Fleming announced a partnership with Double J Realty to construct a 36-unit housing complex on Washington Avenue for adult & graduate students.
  • Sept. 9  - Work on Phase I of the athletic field renovation project begins. Phase I included new artificial turf and markings for various sports.
  • Oct. 5  - Rev. James J. Fleming, S.J. is formally installed as president by Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael J. Bransfield at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling.
  • Nov. 17  - The Mount de Chantal Conservatory of Music opened on the ground floor of the Center for Educational Technologies (CET) building on campus.
  • Dec. 13  - The WJU Volleyball team advanced for the first time in university history to the NCAA Division II Final Four.

2014:

  • Late February  - Site work began in a public-private partnership with Double J Realty to build graduate student apartments on Washington Avenue.
  • March 11  - Bishop Schmitt Field is blessed by Fr. Bill Rickle; the first game on the new turf took place at 4 p.m. with WJU women's lacrosse vs. Edinboro.
  • March 29  - WJU holds its first ever "Community Day" celebration and kicked off the first student scholarship fundraising dinner called "Gaudiosa."
  • Aug. 23  - The 36-unit Cardinal Housing Complex was completed and opened on Washington Avenue for graduate and adult students.
  • Oct. 17  - Bishop Schmitt Field was dedicated by The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

2015:

  • June 27  - The bell that stood on the campus of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy was placed and dedicated behind the Center for Educational Technologies building.
  • August 28  - Wheeling Central Catholic High School played their first home football game on Bishop Schmitt Field.
  • December 12  - The WJU Women's Volleyball team became the first team in university history to win the NCAA Division II Championship. The lady Cardinals beat Palm Beach Atlantic 3-0.

2016:
  • Jan. 7  - Women's Rugby is added to WJU's athletic program, creating the 22nd sport at the university.
  • Feb. 23  - For the first time in university history, the WJU Men's Basketball Team was ranked as the No. 1 Division II team in the nation by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
  • March 12  - Wheeling Jesuit University hosts the NCAA Division II Atlantic Region Basketball Tournament for the first time at the McDonough Center.
  • May 2  - A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Fitzsimmons Family Press Box at Bishop Schmitt Field.

2017:

11th President - Dr. Debra Townsley Image of Debra Townsley
Presidency: January 2017 - July 15, 2018

Prior to becoming the University’s 11th president, Dr. Debra Townsley served as the president of Williams Peach University in Raleigh, N.C. for the last five years. She has also served as president of Nichols College in Dudley, Mass. Overall, she has more than 30 years experience working in higher education.

Dr. Townsley has a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Vermont, where she also received a master's degree in psychology. She earned a second master's from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and bachelor's degrees from American University. 


  • January  - Dr. Debra Townsley, Ph.D. appointed president.
  • February - Formalized the Declaration of Shared Purpose  for Wheeling Jesuit University w ith the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, a nd the Jesuit Community at Wheeling Jesuit University
  • April 25  - WJU morns the passing of Rev. Walter Buckius, S.J. Fr. Buckius served Wheeling Jesuit and the greater Wheeling community from 1973 until his retirement in 2011.
  • May  - The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, through the generosity of Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, has acted to help stabilize the financial operations of the University.
  • May 6  - WJU graduates is first class of Engineering Science students.
  • May 30  - Master's of Business Administration (MBA) program is now offered completely online.
  • June 5   - WJU announces partnership with Oglebay Institute to oversee the university's performing arts program.

2018:

  • March 4 – Men’s Basketball claims first Mountain East Conference Tournament Title against University of Charleston with an 80-65 victory.
  • March 7 – Wheeling Jesuit launched the Fr. Clifford Lewis S.J. Scholars Program, which offers an affordable, lower cost tuition to commuter students from 12 counties in three states.
  • June 4 – Wheeling Jesuit’s Board of Trustees announced their search for WJU's next President.
  • July 25 – Wheeling Jesuit announces the appointment of Dr. Michael P. Mihalyo, Jr. as its 12 th President. Mihalyo replaces Dr. Debra Townsley, who’s appointment ended July 15 th.

12th President - Dr. Michael P. Mihalyo, Jr. Image of Dr. Michael P. Mihalyo, Jr.
Presidency: August 2018 - Present

Michael P. Mihalyo, Jr., D.M.A.,  became the 12th president of Wheeling Jesuit University in August 2018. He joins Wheeling Jesuit with a diverse background in higher education that spans more than 20 years. Most recently, Dr. Mihalyo served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois.   

Dr. Mihalyo’s appointment returns him to the Ohio Valley. Prior to Rockford, Dr. Mihalyo was the president of the Kentucky-based Appalachian College Association as well as the president, chancellor, and provost at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia. He also served as the vice president for academic affairs and as a faculty member at Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia. 

Dr. Mihalyo also has familial ties to the University. His sister, Kimberly Mihalyo Abdalah, is a member of the class of 1995 and a member of the WJU Athletic Hall of Fame. Kimberly’s husband, Dr. Marvin Abdalah, M.D., is a member of the class of 1994 and a member of the WJU Athletic Hall of Fame. Dr. Mihalyo’s niece, Molly Metcalf, is also a member of the class of 2017. 

Dr. Mihalyo earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in piano performance, from Duquesne University, and he holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from West Virginia University.


  • August 6 - Wheeling Jesuit mourns the passing of Dr. Benjamin Stout, Professor of Biology. Dr. Stout has been a faculty member at WJU for 26 years in Biology, specializing in environmental science and sustainability.
  • September 8 - For the first time in the history of Wheeling Jesuit University, collegiate football action took place on Bishop Schmitt Field. WJU faced Hocking College on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 1 p.m. in the first home exhibition contest of the season.
  • September 7 - Wheeling Jesuit University partnered with the city of Wheeling to host a welcome-back party for all students, employees, and members of the community at Centre Market. The event, “CardinalFest 2018,” took place on Friday, Sept. 7, from 5-8 p.m.