In the Fall of 1849, Joshua Loughran removed from Greene Academy in Carmichaels, Greene County, Pennsylvania, to Waynesburg in the same county, where he joined the founders of what was to become Waynesburg College. Loughran taught classes that year in the Hayes Building, later known as the Messenger Building, on the northeast corner of High and Washington Streets in Waynesburg, and then in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, built in 1832 on the hill at the eastern edge of the Commons on what became West Wayne Street.
On 25 March 1850, Pennsylvania Governor William F. Johnson signed the school's official charter, "An Act to Incorporate the Waynesburg College in Greene County, Pennsylvania." The charter's preamble included two important points: first that the petitioners were to provide a building for the school; and second, that they desired the Pennsylvania Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to have control of the college. The charter also called for three professorships, which were filled by Loughran as President; Rev. R. M. Fish as Professor of Mathematics; and Miss Margaret Kerr Bell to lead the female students in Waynesburg's separate Female Seminary, which soon became the Female Department of Waynesburg College, and ultimately, was absorbed completely into an early coeducational institution.
On the first Monday in November 1850, Margaret opened the Winter term, teaching her first classes on the second floor of the Green House, a building still standing on High Street in Waynesburg. During the Summer Term of 1851, she taught her young ladies in the original building of the First Baptist Church, which stood in the same lot as the current church building on the northwest corner of High and West Streets.
Finally, the first college building, later known as Hanna Hall, was opened to both male and female students for the Winter term which began on the first Monday in November 1851.
Three women comprised the first graduating class in 1852; though they received lesser diplomas from the Female Seminary. Five years later, three more women made the Class of 1857 historic when they received three of the first male-equivalent Bachelor’s Degrees issued in the state of Pennsylvania and among the earliest in the entire United States.
Following more than 150 years of education and service, Waynesburg College became Waynesburg University as it entered the 2007/08 school year.