The founding of Wilberforce University was a collaboration among leaders of the Cincinnati Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The university was founded in 1856 and was forced to close down in 1862 due to hardships resulting from the American Civil War. It was however bought by the African Methodist Episcopal Church and reopened the following year.
It was the first college to be owned and operated by African Americans. Today it participates in the United Negro College Fund.