History of WJU Currie Drive


Rev. Charles L. Currie, Jr. served as the fourth president of Wheeling College from 1972 until 1982, a time of great financial difficulty and declining enrollment for the school. His arrival was greeted by rumors that he planned to close the College, but, instead, he committed himself to building on the goals of the original founders and to expanding the impact of the college on the Ohio Valley.

Currie engineered the first needed boost in funding through the Title III (Advanced Institutional Development Program), which brought the college $1.5 million in federal funds from 1976-81. Along with supplementary funds from the Benedum Foundation (in business) and the Health, Education and Welfare Health Resources Division (in nursing), the College was able to establish new programs, increase student retention rates, provide funds for faculty and administrative development, and develop a strong data-based management system, including computer capabilities.

After five years, Wheeling College gained distinction as one of the few schools in the nation to quit the Title III program on a voluntary basis. Fr. Currie finished his tenure as president with an 80 percent increase in enrollment, gifts from private sources reaching $1 million per year, an evening division, and 12 new programs. Although the College still had a $1 million debt by the time he left, Currie was able to balance the yearly budget.

Born on July 9, 1930 in Philadelphia, Fr. Currie began his collegiate education at Fordham University in 1948 on a Presidential Scholarship, and studied there until 1950, when he entered the Society of Jesus. Beginning an impressive career in higher education, Fr. Currie received his Bachelor of Arts from Boston College in 1955, followed by his Master in Arts in 1956. That same year, he also earned his PhL from Weston College. In 1961, he completed his doctoral work for his PhD in Physical Chemistry at Catholic University, working in the area of photochemistry. Two years after the completion of his PhD, Fr. Currie was ordained a Jesuit priest on June 16, 1963.

After leaving Wheeling College in 1982, Fr. Currie became president of Xavier University in Cincinnati. In 1986, he returned to Georgetown University to direct the school's bicentennial celebration. After the assassination of Jesuits priests in El Salvador in 1989, Fr. Currie was appointed special assistant to coordinate the University's response to this tragedy.  In this capacity, he traveled to El Salvador to observe the situation first-hand, organized a number of educational programs at Georgetown, and participated in the Congressional response to the situation. In 1991, he was one of three official representatives from the U.S. Jesuits at the trial of the soldiers accused of the murders.

After completing his work at Georgetown, Fr. Currie then moved to St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, where he served as rector of the Jesuit community and taught courses in theology and science. In 1997, Fr. Currie's background in higher education led to his appointment as the president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (ACJU), an organization dedicated to promoting cooperative efforts among the 28 Jesuit institutions in the United States. Fr. Currie still holds this position today.

Information compiled from:

  • Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) Website (www.ajcunet.edu)
  • "Charles L. Currie, S.J. Biographical Information" from the AJCU
  • "Wheeling Jesuit University Presidential Inauguration" by Paul Orr
  • Wheeling Jesuit University Website (www.wju.edu)