April 2022 
Commencement is just 24 days away! We can't wait! 
 Dr. Jim Denova
Commencement Speaker Dr. Jim Denova
TWEST LIBERTY, W.Va., April 6, 2022 – West Liberty University will welcome Dr. Jim Denova to the podium as its spring commencement speaker. The indoor ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 7, in the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC).

“West Liberty University is honored Dr. Denova has agreed to speak to our Class of 2022. His reputation for innovation in education, and his ability to advance economic development, is undeniable. Thanks to his philanthropic skills, West Liberty University has enjoyed many advantages. Clearly, he is an exceptional leader,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, WLU president.

Evans will preside over the commencement ceremony and will confer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Denova during the proceedings.

Denova, who holds a doctoral degree in social research from the University of Pittsburgh, is a champion for education and for the state of West Virginia. In 2021, he retired from his position as vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Denova has been an advocate for WLU, as well as other organizations and institutions in the community, region and state, who directly or indirectly support WLU's mission.

Through Denova’s leadership, the WLU Foundation has received nearly $2.5 million in Benedum Foundation programmatic grants since 2002 that support the College of Education and Human Performance. One such project is the WLU Center for Arts and Education.

Denova is now an independent contractor working with education and economic development initiatives with more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy — including such roles as the vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, executive director of the Forbes Fund, and senior program officer with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

His prior non-profit employment spans a range of positions: director of research and planning for the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, research director for the Community College of Beaver County, program director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, social service supervisor for John J. Kane Hospital, and senior therapist with Jefferson County Comprehensive Mental Health Center.

Over the years, he has served on the boards of Philanthropy West Virginia, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, the Women’s Center and Shelter, Film Pittsburgh, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, the Remake Learning Council, the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics, and Manchester Bidwell Corporation.

Some of his publications include working papers and journal articles on school-based health services, STEAM education, the role of community colleges, and non-profit management. He is frequently asked to speak before public officials and policy makers on workforce development, teacher quality, arts education, and school leadership. He also acts as guest lecturer at several local universities.

Denova has received awards from the Children’s Defense Fund, Marshall University’s Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development, the Mon Valley Initiative, Philanthropy West Virginia, Southwest Pennsylvania Partnership on Aging, Shepherd University, and the National Association of Educational Service Agencies.

West Liberty University’s spring commencement will be in person. Due to the size of the graduation class, each graduate will receive five tickets to share with family and friends. WLU will also offer live stream viewing for guests inside Kelly Theater. 
Commencement can also be viewed live on Topper Station (topperstation.com) as well as on social media. Doors open for seating at commencement at 9:30 a.m. 

A reception for graduates, guests and families will be held in the College Union immediately following the ceremony. Parking will be available for guests behind the ASRC.
Dr. Jeremy McCool
Dr. Jeremy McCool, author and media personality.
April 21, 2022 Hughes Lecture
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., March 24, 2022 — The annual Hughes Lecture program will feature author and media personality, Dr. Jeremy C. McCool, at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, April 21. The presentation is free, and open to the public. It will take place in the Boyle Conference Center, located in the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC).

McCool will speak for approximately 45 minutes, and then take questions from the audience.. The lecture will be followed by a 4:30 p.m. meet and greet reception with the author.

McCool is a professor, consultant, scholar and author from Chicago. A well-known lecturer at universities and organizations on topics such as media influence, racial bias, hip-hop and interpersonal communication, his lecture is entitled, “Don’t Rock the Boat: The Silencing of Socially Conscious Music in America.”

McCool will evaluate the history of music and social issues in America. He will dive into the subconscious avoidance of opposing viewpoints, as well as the backlash and criticism that socially conscious music has, and continues to receive.

“We look forward to welcoming Dr. McCool to the Hughes Lecture and hearing his important presentation on this poignant topic. Dr. McCool is the perfect fit for this year’s lecture, as his multidisciplinary expertise that spans writing, broadcasting, and music will appeal to both students as well as faculty whose interests lie in the many disciplines that are now housed in the new College of Liberal and Creative Arts,” said Dr. William Scott Hanna, WLU English professor who is the chair of the Hughes Lecture committee. (The College of Liberal Arts combined with the College of Arts and Communication recently.)

McCool is the co-creator of a children’s book series called "McCool & McBride Books." This series began with a book entitled Princess and The Power of Melanin, released in 2018. This book was created to uplift girls and combats the notion that dark skin is a detriment.

The series then followed with The Adventures of Darrius: The Hall Monitor in 2021. The book series creatively tackles social issues such as bullying and prejudice, and contains Black lead characters.

McCool joined the faculty of West Chester University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area) as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Media in 2021. He earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Western Illinois University in Broadcast Journalism and Communications, respectively.

He went on to earn a Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) in Communication Media and Instructional Technology, all the while teaching courses to undergraduates. 

At 17, he co-hosted a radio morning show at Western Illinois University and at age 18, he became the station’s Music Director. He later interned at 99.1 WSMK in Niles, Mich. His work in radio motivated his dissertation research, which examines how different races perceive socially conscious hip hop music.

The Hughes Lecture Series began in the 1970s and is named after Dr. Raymond Grove Hughes, a beloved teacher who joined West Liberty in 1931. His generous endowment gift established a fund managed by the West Liberty University Foundation and known as the Hughes Lecture Series Endowed Fund.

Thanks to this fund, the series has brought a wide range of authors and speakers to WLU, including: David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy, Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle; Dr. Ralph Abernathy, confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Eugene McCarthy, U.S. Senator and presidential candidate in 1968 and NASA scientist Homer Hickam.

The Hughes Lecture takes place during the College of Liberal and Creative Arts celebration week, which marks the unification of two WLU colleges (College of Liberal Arts and College of Arts and Communication). The celebration includes art exhibitions, musical performances, creative writing events, the Hughes Lecture, and the Student Literary and Arts Journal “Threshold” launch.

For more, please contact the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at 304.336.8061.
Nursing Expansion
$924,619.12 in grant dollars awarded to Nursing Program! Apply now!

Nursing Grant Expansion

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., March 18, 2022 — West Liberty University has been awarded nearly a million dollars through West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Nursing Workforce Expansion Program, which is designed to address the state’s nursing shortage through a multifaceted approach to attract, train, and retain nurses in the Mountain State. Representing a fundamental part of this approach, an award program was established to fund nursing program expansion projects at colleges, universities, schools of nursing, and career technical education centers across West Virginia.

Through this significant award, WLU’s College of Sciences plans to expand the nursing program and increase the number of students enrolled. The investment is expected to support at least 20 new nursing students at West Liberty University.

“We are so pleased to receive this major award for our nursing program. These funds will support new students in our traditional nursing baccalaureate program and our BA-BS to BSN or second-degree program,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, WLU president. “The support from the governor will also provide innovative technology to enhance student learning and to ensure our students are well prepared for nursing careers.”

The nursing program expansion awards are administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Community and Technical College System. Twenty-six funded projects across the state were announced by Gov. Justice on March 17. Approved projects were required to be focused on increasing enrollment in pre-licensure nursing programs through innovative approaches focused on timely degree completion and licensure for graduates.

“We are tremendously grateful to Gov. Justice for providing this historic funding to support the expansion of nursing education programs across West Virginia,” said Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, West Virginia’s Chancellor of Higher Education. “Through these new projects, our postsecondary education community will be better positioned to help shore up West Virginia’s nursing workforce – which, in turn, will help support our nurses working tirelessly on the front lines right now.”

Justice announced the West Virginia Nursing Workforce Expansion Program in December 2021 by dedicating $48 million to support new and expanded initiatives that will train new nurses, fully fund the Nursing Scholarship Program, value nurses already practicing in the state, and recruit nurses into West Virginia.

Housed in the Campbell Hall of Health Sciences, WLU’s nursing program is ranked one of the best in the state. For more information, please visit westliberty.edu/nursing.
Amanda Bennett wants to meet YOU!
Enjoy this campus video as we introduce you to our new Director of Alumni Affairs Amanda Bennett. 

Meet Amanda Bennett

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., March 28, 2022 — West Liberty University has a new leader at the helm of its Alumni Affairs Office, Wheeling resident Amanda Bennett.

“Amanda joined us just a few weeks ago and is already reaching out to our many graduates and working hard to create more alumni events and networking opportunities,” said Vice President of External Affairs Jason Koegler, who is her supervisor.

“I am pleased to represent WLU alumni and am looking forward to meeting alumni all over the region and beyond as we continue to offer fellowship, networking and great events to strengthen our chapters and serve our members,” Bennett said. 
 
Bennett previously held the position of marketing director for the Highlands Sports Complex, Triadelphia, W.Va. Prior to that role, she was operations director for Harvey Goodman Realtor, St. Clairsville, Ohio.

Bennett earned her undergraduate degree at WLU in 2013 and went on to earn an MBA, also at WLU, in 2018.
 
Bennett and her partner Matt Welsch are the parents of one son, Owen. Welsch also is a WLU alumnus and is the owner of Vagabond Kitchen, located in Downtown Wheeling.

West Liberty University alumni founded its first alumni group in June 1877 with 103 members. From its beginning, the growth and development of the Alumni Affairs office has been dedicated to promoting the interests of WLU, strengthening the loyalty of alumni, and fostering support among its graduates, former students, and friends.

To reach Bennett or the Alumni Affairs office, please call 304.336.8844 or visit westliberty.edu/alumni.
Homecoming 2022
Due to unforeseen circumstances, our Homecoming date changed recently from September 24 to October 22, 2022. The Office of Alumni Affairs is happy to announce a partnership with Oglebay Park which is serving as WLU's Homecoming Headquarters.

Please contact Oglebay at 304.243.4000, to reserve your rooms, with a special WLU Homecoming rate. See you soon on the Hilltop!  
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