Wayland Academy was founded as Wayland University on January 31, 1855.
Although the Academy has been a nondenominational boarding school for over seventy years, it was initially chartered as a Baptist university and named for the president of Brown University, prominent educator and Baptist minister Francis Wayland. On July 4, 1855, the cornerstone of the first campus building, College Hall, was laid in place. The building still stands today, but is now known as Wayland Hall. Whereas this building served as the entire school during Wayland's early years (classrooms, chapel, library, dormitory, and administrative offices), today it is one of four dormitories on campus and houses 50 boys and five dorm supervisors.