"West Liberty Academy" was about one mile away from the site of the current University.
At the celebration, officials noted that a lot has changed, but a lot has also stayed the same.
It was in West Liberty, Virginia, in 1837.
Rev. Nathan Shottwell, a Presbyterian minister, opened the school.
"It was not uncommon to have ministers who were also educators to come to what was at that time the western frontier of the United States," explained President Robin Capehart. "They would provide education to the people on the frontier. The primary purpose was that they wanted to teach them to read the Bible so they could have a life with good character and high integrity."
They taught arithmetic, Latin, logic, oil painting and music.
And 175 years later, music played a major role in the Founders Day service in the chapel.
Alumni include city, county and state officials who still praise the life lessons they learned there.
"The college experience here, I think, prepared people not only for successes in life but also taught them not to be afraid to explore new things and ideas and explore some new challenges, and if you fail, you fail," said W.Va. Senate President Jeff Kessler, who is also Lieutenant Governor. "But 99% of the time, you don't fail."
"You don't get lucky for 175 years," says Dr. John P. McCullough, executive vice president. "You've got to do something right, you've got to do it well. And the commitment of this institution is a commitment to our students and to provide a wonderful teaching and learning environment and to provide just a solid platform for them for the rest of their lives."