|Wiley University (1873–1929)|
|Motto||Go Forth Inspired|
|Type||Private historically black college|
|United Methodist Church|
|Chairman||Billy R. Casey|
|President||Herman J. Felton Jr.|
|Provost||Howard O. Gibson|
|Campus||Rural, 134 acres (54 ha)|
|Colors||Purple, Black, White & Gray|
|NAIA – GCAC|
|Mascot||Wiley the Wildcat|
Wiley College is a private historically black college in Marshall, Texas. Founded in 1873 by the Methodist Episcopal Church's Bishop Isaac Wiley and certified in 1882 by the Freedman's Aid Society, it is one of the oldest predominantly black colleges west of the Mississippi River.
In 2005–2006, on-campus enrollment approached 450, while an off-campus program in Shreveport, Louisiana, for students with some prior college credits who seek to finish a degree, enrolled about 250. By fall of 2006, total enrollment was about 750. By fall of 2013, total enrollment reached over 1,000. Wiley is an open admissions college and about 96% of students receive some financial aid.
Over a 15-year period, Melvin B. Tolson's debate teams lost only one of 75 debates. Wiley's debate team competed against historically black colleges and earned national attention with its 1935 debate against University of Southern California's highly ranked debate team.
Wiley College offers bachelor's degrees through four academic divisions.
Wiley, along with Bishop College, was instrumental in the Civil Rights Movement in Texas. Wiley and Bishop students launched the first sit-ins in Texas in the rotunda of the Old Harrison County Courthouse to protest segregation in public facilities.
James Farmer, son of James L. Farmer, Sr., graduated from Wiley and became one of the "Big Four" of the Civil Rights Movement. Together with Roy Wilkins, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Whitney M. Young Jr., James Farmer helped organize the first sit-ins and Freedom Rides in the United States.
Tony Scherman's article about the Wiley College debate team for the 1997 Spring issue of American Legacy sparked a renewed interest in its history. The success of the 1935 Wiley College debate team, coached by professor and poet Melvin Tolson, was the subject of a 2005 AMS Pictures documentary, The Great Debaters, The Real Great Debaters of Wiley College, which received heavy play around Texas, followed by the 2007 dramatic movie, The Great Debaters, directed by and starring Denzel Washington. In 1935, the Wiley College debate team defeated the reigning national debate champion, the University of Southern California (depicted as Harvard University in The Great Debaters).
In 2007, Denzel Washington announced a donation of $1 million to Wiley so the team could be re-established. The following year, The Great Debaters movie debuted, starring Washington; the college's debate team has taken this name, too.
In 2014, the 23-person team won 1st place at the Pi Kappa Delta Comprehensive National Tournament. This was the largest Pi Kappa Delta Tournament in their 101-year history. This was the first national speech and debate title won by an HBCU. Three years later, the college led the establishment of the first HBCU National Speech and Debate League. In 2018, Wiley hosted the first HBCU National Speech and Debate League Tournament.
The Wiley athletic teams are called the Wildcats. The college is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), primarily competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) since the 2022–23 academic year. The Wildcats previously competed in the Red River Athletic Conference (RRAC) from 1998–99 to 2021–22. They were also a founding member of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) from 1920–21 to 1967–68, which is currently an NCAA Division I FCS athletic conference.
Wiley competes in ten intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer and track & field. Women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, track & field and volleyball. Wiley the Wildcat is the mascot. Former sports included cheerleading.
On January 20, 2022, Wiley received an invitation to join the GCAC, along with Oakwood University (from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA)) and the return of Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), effective beginning in July 2022. The GCAC is an athletic conference affiliated with the NAIA.
|Melvin B. Tolson||English||Noted poet and English professor|||
|James L. Farmer, Sr.||First black Texan to earn a PhD, also a professor at Wiley|
|Fred T. Long||Athletics||Athletic director and head football coach|||
|Harry Long||Biology||Head of biology department and asst. football coach|||
|Reuben Shannon Lovinggood||Latin and Greek courses||Classical scholar and former president of Samuel Huston College (now known as Huston-Tillotson University)|||
|R. E. Brown||1899||Organized the first male quartet, first brass band, first football team at Wiley. Later started the first teacher-training school for African Americans in Louisiana.|||
|Thelma Dewitty||1941||First African American to teach in the Seattle Public Schools|||
|James Farmer||1938||U.S. civil rights leader|||
|Richard E. Holmes||Physician, transferred to Mississippi State University after sophomore year at Wiley to be the first African American to matriculate at MSU|||
|Conrad O. Johnson||Music educator|||
|Opal Lee||Activist, "Grandmother of Juneteenth"|||
|L. D. Livingston||Negro league baseball outfielder|||
|Ernest Lyon||Minister, former United States Ambassador to Liberia, and founder of the Maryland Industrial and Agricultural Institute for Colored Youths.|
|Henry Cecil McBay||Chemist, college professor|
|Willie Pearson Jr||1968||Sociologist, college professor, author|
|Oliver Randolph||1904||New Jersey lawyer, politician, and civil rights advocate|||
|C. O. Simpkins, Sr.||Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, 1992-1996; retired Shreveport dentist|||
|Bill Spiller||African-American golfer who challenged the segregationist policies of the PGA|||
|Heman Marion Sweatt||Plaintiff in U.S. Supreme Court case, Sweatt v. Painter (1950); helped to found Texas Southern University|
|Lee Wilder Thomas||Prominent African-American businessman in the oil industry|
|Lois Towles||1933||Internationally renowned concert pianist.|||
|Henrietta Bell Wells||First female member of the debate team subject of the 2007 movie, "The Great Debaters"|||
|James Wheaton||1945||Actor, director, educator|||
|Richard Williams||Jazz trumpeter|
Dr. Brown, the oldest living graduate of Wiley, entered the institution on his sixteenth birthday and finished in the class of 1899 at the age of twenty-four.
Students and friends of Wiley were thrilled by the superb concert of the internationally famous pianist, Lois Towles.