PARKERSBURG - West Virginia University at Parkersburg concluded its Founders Week activities Saturday with a special convocation ceremony to recognize 50 people for their contributions to the community and the college.
Saturday's ceremony brought to a close a series of activities and programs held throughout 2011 in recognition of WVU-P's 50th anniversary.
The Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University opened in September 1961 with 104 students. It was located in an abandoned elementary school, provided by Wood County Schools, on Emerson Avenue. It became Parkersburg Community College in 1971 and was re-designated WVU Parkersburg in 1989. The college has grown to be the fourth largest public college in West Virginia with more than 4,500 students.
Photo by Wayne Towner
Joyce Mather, at right, receives an honorary degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg from college president Marie Foster Gnage, center, and Joe Campbell, left, chairman of the WVU-P Board of Governors.
College faculty, staff, retirees and the community are invited to participate in a ceremony commemorating 50 years since the first class at the Parkersburg Branch of West Virginia University took place.
Joe Campbell, chairman of the WVU-P Board of Governors, presided over Saturday's ceremony with WVU-P President Marie Foster Gnage.
The two main speakers for the program were Bernard L. Allen, professor emeritus of history and philosophy at WVU-P for 30 of its years, and West Virginia Secretary of Commerce Keith Burdette, who attended the college as a young man and served a term on its Board of Governors before being chosen for his current state cabinet office.
Allen has written a book about WVU-P's history, over half of which he has experienced himself. He joined the college as a teacher in 1966 when it was still located on Emerson Avenue and then returned in 1972, after earning a doctorate, to teach at the current campus where he remained until his retirement in 1999. Allen said he spent a total of 30 years with the college and enjoyed the experience greatly.
When he started, Allen said there were 300 students and 12 faculty members. It has now grown to over 4,500 students.
"This college starts with the students. Everyone else is here to serve them. If they serve them well, the college prospers and if they don't, it doesn't," Allen said.
Concluding Saturday's program, 50 people were recognized as honorary degree recipients, with those in attendance accepting their degrees. A reception followed the convocation, which included the placement of a time capsule.