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Fall 2016

A Billion for Mountaineers

The University has reached a historic milestone, raising more than $1 billion in its private fundraising “State of Minds” campaign through the WVU Foundation as of Aug. 31. “I believe our world’s best days lie ahead. West Virginia’s best days lie ahead,” President E. Gordon Gee said. “And by supporting the State of Minds Campaign, our donors are summoning that bright future, one dollar and one life at a time.” 

The campaign gifts numbered 340,007 from 86,027 donors and include the $50.9 million raised for the Dream First scholarship initiative launched last year. The campaign created 697 scholarships. Almost half of the campaign funds are committed to enhance the undergraduate student experience and global education, with the rest going toward research, professional and graduate education, faculty excellence and improving West Virginia’s health, economy and quality of life. 

While the goal has been reached, the State of Minds fundraising campaign will continue until Dec. 31, 2017, with a focus on the University’s strategic pillars of education, healthcare and broad-based prosperity. Campaign co-chair Bob Reynolds, BS ’74, said, “Now, more than ever with the financial challenges facing the University, our focus as a foundation needs to be on our mission to support the University through private philanthropy. Our loyal and generous alumni and friends have never let us down, and I am confident over the next 15 months, that they will continue to give, and we’ll finish this campaign stronger than ever.”

A Salty Time Machine

Air trapped in salt crystals.
(On the left side of the photo, the black, circular air bubble encased in a square pocket of water was found in rock salt using a quadruple mass spectrometer.) 

Scientists used to think that Earth’s atmosphere developed enough oxygen to support life 550 million years ago. They were only off by 300 million years. Geologist Kathleen Benison was part of a team that discovered, through examining trapped air in rock salt, that 813 million years ago the Earth’s atmosphere was 10.9 percent oxygen. While less than the percentage of oxygen in air today – 20 percent – it’s still enough to support a diversity of life. 

The Voice

Blessing Offor works with a student.
Blessing Offor with Tatyana Tolliver-Hughes of South Charleston, W.Va. 

Nearly 30 West Virginia children went to the Creative Arts Center to perform this summer. They were all blind or visually impaired. And they had some coaching from someone who could relate. Blessing Offor, who performed on “The Voice” and is blind, worked with children in the WVU Vision Institute’s Children’s Vision Rehabilitation Program Summer Institute. The program helps foster independence, employability and socialization for children with visual disabilities. 

Best Value

The National Jurist has named the College of Law a top 20 Best Value Law School. The employment rate for the class of 2015 is 80 percent, which is 10 points higher than the national average for full-time, long-term bar-passage required and JD Advantage jobs. The college also awards more than $2.9 million a year in scholarships and grants to h 

New Ag Home

Ribbon cutting at new ag building.

Students, faculty and staff have more space to grow as the new Agricultural Sciences Building opened this fall. The five-story building has a green roof on the west side, an energy recovery system that captures heat or cold exhausted from laboratories and water-efficient plumbing fixtures to target a minimum of 30 percent water-use reduction. 

First in Medicine

Patrice Harris

WVU alumna Patrice Harris is the first African-American woman to chair the American Medical Association Board of Trustees after a recent election. Harris, BS ’82, Psychology, MS ’86, Counseling Psychology, MD ’92, has served as director of health services for Atlanta/ Fulton County, Ga., and medical director for the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. She currently maintains a private psychiatry practice and consults in the public and private health sectors. 

Safe Community

This summer, the WVU and Greater Morgantown Safe Communities Initiative was recognized by the National Safety Council following three years of collaboration on the project by the University, City of Morgantown and Monongalia County. The program is designed to make the area safer through identifying risks and formulating solutions. 

Top Robot

Students work on a computer with robot in the forefront.

WVU is now the first and only group to win level 2 of NASA's Sample Robot Return Challenge, bringing home a $750,000 prize this year, the largest ever awarded in the challenge's five years. Ten students in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources brought their robot Cataglyphis to this year's competition, with improvements after last year's level 2 win. The team sometimes spent more than 100 hours a week to perfect software. The most impressive improvement? Cataglyphis can make decisions on its own and found rocks in places the team didn't anticipate. Go online to watch the video:

Research Keeps Students in Science

We know the U.S. needs more workers in science, technology, engineering and math. We now know that students who get involved in research early on in college are more likely to stay in these fields. Paul Hernandez, assistant professor in educational psychology, co-authored the study “Early Engagement in Course-Based Research Increases Graduation Rates and Completion of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Degrees” published in CBE-Life Sciences Education and was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. 

I'll Teach You the Electric Drive

Image of cord being plugged into outlet on a car.

California state parks have a statewide system of electric vehicle chargers. Now West Virginia is the only other state in the nation that makes it easier for visitors to charge up while they’re enjoying the hills and valleys around the state. The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium located at WVU trained state park workers on the new equipment. It’s only one instance of how the consortium educates people across the country to promote the use of cleaner transportation, cure the U.S. addiction to oil and lead to energy independence. 

Quote Solo

“ The taint of our history exacerbates the potential for misunderstanding when it comes to matters of race.” — David M. Fryson, WVU vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion 

Fryson discussed how communication gaps cause divides along cultural lines and used the example of how different groups look at the phrase “Black Lives Matter” in a summer column entitled “Beyond the cultural divide” in the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail. He said critics of the phrase and movement perceive the line to mean “Black Lives Matter ... Only,” while to proponents of the movement, it means “Black Lives Matter ... Too.” 

Worldwide Consultants

Map of the world.

When the U.S. Department of Justice was looking for a consultant for Egypt on strategic planning in forensic medicine, it called on WVU. David Dawley, director of the College of Business and Economics’ Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy, consulted for the Egyptian Forensic Medicine Authority, presenting a plan to the Egyptian Minister of Justice. For more than 10 years, the center’s Forensic Management Academy has developed a strong reputation that led to this project. It has trained hundreds of forensic professionals globally. 

Our Rocket Woman

Katherine Johnson

When you see “Hidden Figures,” a film about African-American women who were mathematicians at NASA during the 1960s space programs, you’ll be watching the story of a former graduate student at WVU. Katherine Johnson, a mathematician featured in the film who computed the launch window for astronaut Alan Shepard’s 1961 Mercury mission, was born in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and was one of the first African-American students to desegregate graduate education at WVU. 

What a Class

Freshmen comparison for 2015 and 2016.

This semester, WVU had the largest freshman class ever

And it’s also the best-prepared with an average GPA of about 3.53 and the most diverse with increased applications from first-time freshman minority students by 70 percent.

The Honors College increased enrollment by about 18 percent, from 739 last year to 902 this year. 

The freshman class grew across the WVU System, in Morgantown, WVU Institute of Technology in Montgomery, the new Beckley campus and Potomac State College in Keyser. 

Athlete Image

To counter health risks in female collegiate athletes, a researcher is implementing a program to promote healthy body image with the assistance of an NCAA grant. Dana Voelker, assistant professor of sport and exercise psychology, is implementing and evaluating the Bodies-in-Motion program. “A healthy body image is linked to enhanced performance across life domains as well as improved psychosocial well-being over the lifespan, which makes body image a vital cornerstone of health and wellness,” Voelker said. 

Matter of Fact Archive

Fall 2014

From the new art museum to acupuncture to shoe research, there’s a lot happening at WVU.

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Fall 2015

The WVU Beckley campus opened, an alumna took a case to the U.S. Supreme Court and new students prepared for zombie wars. Catch these and so much more in Matter of Fact.

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Fall 2016

WVU surpassed $1 billion in its State of Minds campaign and the robotics team was again the only team to win NASA's competition.

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Fall 2017

One alumna beat the pros in the Food Network show "Cooks vs. Cons" and another alumnus was on flights measuring Hurricane Irma. See what else is cookin' among WVU faculty, staff, students and alumni.

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Spring 2015

A 94-year-old grad. An artificial hand that works like a real one. A tree from Isaac Newton’s backyard. Learn about these and more.

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Spring 2016

This issue, the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute prepares to open, a professor takes cameras into classrooms and Morgantown breaks ground on a new $30-million swimming, diving and track complex.

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Spring 2017

We bid farewell to Arnold Hall, "meet the press" and applaud WVU's online grad program in software engineering.

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Summer 2016

Mountaineers went first in assisting with flood relief efforts in West Virginia this summer.

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Summer 2017

An ice drilling team took home top honors in a NASA competition, the sports management graduate program is ranked 10th in the U.S., and an alumna wrote the book on pepperoni rolls.

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