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College president Leonard Riggleman (April 16, 1894-May 19, 1983) was born in a cabin in Randolph County. A mountain farm boy, educated in a one-room school, he passed the uniform teachers exam in 1913 and taught three years before leaving to study for the Methodist ministry at Morris Harvey College (now University of Charleston), then located at Barboursville, Cabell County.

There he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1922, and met his wife, Pauline Steele of Huntington. After receiving a master’s degree at Southern Methodist University, Riggleman accepted a pastorate in Milton (1924–28) and taught for the agricultural extension service and for Morris Harvey. He was elected vice president of the college in 1930 and president in 1931.

Saving, then building, Morris Harvey College became Riggleman’s life’s work. By various stratagems he kept the institution afloat, negotiated the difficult decisions to move the college to Charleston in 1935, and to break from the Methodist Church. War delayed his campaign for a permanent campus until September 1947. During the next 15 years, he built a campus centered around Riggleman Hall, the main classroom building, and led the college to accreditation in 1958.

Although Riggleman retired in 1964, he led the fight to prevent Morris Harvey College from being given to the state in 1974 but acquiesced in its becoming the University of Charleston in 1978. A noted speaker, active churchman, and Kiwanian, Riggleman served on state commissions, was a founding member of the Association of College and University Presidents, and was the Charleston Gazette’s West Virginia Man of the Year in 1955.

This Article was written by R. Eugene Harper

Last Revised on December 08, 2015

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Sources

Garrett, Mark. Sincerely Yours: The Life and Work of Leonard Riggleman. Charleston: 1980.

Krebs, Frank J. Where There is Faith: The Morris Harvey College Story, 1888-1970. Charleston: MHC. Publications, 1974.

Cite This Article

Harper, R. Eugene "Leonard Riggleman." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 08 December 2015. Web. 14 December 2018.

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