By Bill Frye, Register-Herald
The West Virginia University Institute of Technology is often known and renowned for its engineering program.
Once the school begin opens its doors in Beckley this fall to incoming freshmen, a new legacy for the school begins.
Citing great success with Adventure West Virginia in Morgantown, school officials hope a similar program on the Tech campus in Beckley will have a similar outcome.
Tech Adventures, led by director Steve Storck, begins this fall in Beckley for all students of WVU Tech whether they are on the Beckley or Montgomery campus.
Adventure West Virginia and Tech Adventures work independently of each other, but are structured to share ideas and administrative procedures, Storck said.
The outdoor adventure program has several components planned for the opening of WVU Tech in Beckley: a student orientation program, academic courses and services to allow students to plan their own outdoor recreation activities.
Currently, the student orientation program is set up for its initial run with two six-day sessions scheduled for the weeks of July 31 and Aug. 8, Storck said. Each session has room for approximately 20 students.
Storck said the students in the orientation program will set up a base camp at Lake Stephens and then throughout the six days take part in rock climbing, ropes courses, whitewater rafting and more. Students will also take part in service projects on both the Beckley and Montgomery campuses.
Students can currently enroll in the outdoor orientation program.
Patterned after the Adventure West Virginia program in Morgantown, Tech Adventures will eventually use student leaders to run the week-long sessions, but being in its first year, staff and local outdoor outfitters will run the sessions.
“We’re building a college community,” Storck said. “The program allows students to get to know each other and helps students learn how to be successful among their peers.
“They can learn how to balance a social life and their academics, sitting around a campfire setting goals,” Storck continued.
Beckley, situated in an area that is nine miles away from a national park and one of the largest recreational facilities in the world, the Summit Bechtel Reserve, will be a perfect fit for the launch of Tech Adventures.
“Central and southern West Virginia are rich in trails and natural resources. We are in the wildest part of the mid-Atlantic region,” Storck said.
“There are not many institutions that have a national park in their back yard,” Storck said.
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Storck pointed out that there are similar “beneficial outdoor programs that exist all around the country.”
A lifelong outdoor enthusiast, Storck grew up in Loudon, Va., a few miles from the Appalachian Trail and only 15 miles away from Harpers Ferry, where he began working for outdoor outfitters leading rafting trips on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.
No stranger to West Virginia’s hills and mountains, Storck said students are responding to the outdoor programs being offered on college campuses.
“Students tend to do better right off the bat,” Strock said, citing graduation rates that improve 4 to 5 percent when students participate in the outdoor programs.
University of New Hampshire Associate Professor Brent Bell, who has worked with West Virginia University, said the programs are becoming very popular nationally.
Students are citing their experiences in outdoor orientation programs as one of their most important college experiences.
The outdoor education expert, who has conducted studies on 28 college campuses, said West Virginia has been researching the effects of outdoor programs to maximize their success.
Bell said in one study he conducted at the Morgantown campus through 425 student essays, close to 90 percent of the participants said the outdoor orientation program was their best educational experience.
“It’s a very positive experience for students,” Bell said. “Students tend to be retained, build more social support and live healthier lifestyles.”
Bell said another benefit of the outdoor programs is that they are usually led by peer leaders. The peer leaders get additional benefits, Bell said, by “finding their voice and being influenced to become outgoing leaders.”
“I think the big part is that students develop a sense of belongness. Going to college is a big decision and they go in with some uncertainty,” Bell said. “In the programs they develop interpersonal trust with a small group of peers, which relieves the uncertainty and allows them to be themselves.
“Nature exposes them to who they really are,” Bell said. “Then they can be more themselves on campus. It breaks down social barriers being together in the wilderness.”
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For Storck, adventures in the outdoors are in his blood.
While obtaining a degree in biology from Frostburg State University in Maryland, a recreation master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., then working on a Ph.D. in recreation resource management at West Virginia University that focused on assessing trail erosion and management practices, Storck led many students and friends on outdoor treks into the mountains, rivers and caves of West Virginia, southwestern Pennsylvania and parts of Virginia.
After studying in Colorado and taking a break from his studies at West Virginia University to teach at Garrett College in McHenry, Md., in their Adventure Sports Institute, Storck says he still meets many of his former students from that time who are now leaders in the adventure industry in West Virginia and across the country. Some of them helped lure him back to the Mountain State.
No stranger to his “beloved” (Appalachian) mountains, Storck is “back in West Virginia to hopefully introduce another generation to the wonders of the mountains and rivers that have played such a big part in my life over the last 40 years.”
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One of the unique aspects of the Tech Adventures program will be the fact that the recreation and academic sides will be under the same umbrella.
“Tech Adventures has taken a unique approach of combining resources and an administrative structure to provide integrated learning opportunities for those interested in pursuing adventure recreation management as a career and for those studying other fields at Tech who want a fun class or to learn a new skill as part of our co-curricular offerings,” Storck said.
He pointed out that many institutions have separate administrative structures for their student life and academic outdoor recreation programs.
“While they often collaborate, they rarely share resources, creating redundant inventories of equipment and different program models,” Storck said.
To start out in the fall of 2016, Tech will offer two elective courses: Essential Skills of Adventure Recreation and Adventure in Society.
According to its website, the first class will focus on “foundational outdoor skills needed to safely participate in and lead trips in outdoor settings. Students learn and practice equipment selection and use, outdoor cooking, map & compass navigation and wilderness first aid in classroom and outdoor settings.”
The second class will “explore how outdoor adventure has transformed from a daily necessity for survival in early cultures to its modern form of recreational pursuit. Through readings, media, lectures and hands-on adventure experiences students explore historical and modern perspectives of popular adventure pursuits and their societal influence.”
“We hope to have 18 credits of course work approved by next fall so students pursuing a degree in interdisciplinary studies can have a focus area in adventure recreation management,” Storck stated.
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Storck said southern West Virginia is primed with opportunities for students to get integrated learning experiences with local outdoor outfitters to learn how the outdoor adventure business works.
“We want to get you in the field,” Storck said. “Working with outfitters, giving you management skills to set up a business at colleges and universities or other recreational endeavors.”
Storck said he has cast a wide net in terms of who and where in the state students could pursue outdoor adventure opportunities.
“We are open to working with all outfitters and outdoor programs. This also will enable our students to have access to future internship and employment opportunities. I have reached out to as many companies as I can to provide broad exposure to the different styles and formats of the central West Virginia adventure industry,” Storck said.
Support is coming from all directions in terms of Tech’s adventure program, Storck said.
“Everyone I’ve spoken with has been very supportive of our program and open to working together,” Storck stated. “This is a very collaborative program and we will work closely with community partners including regional outfitters, programs, the National Park Service, state parks, the state Whitewater Commission, state office of tourism, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, Active Southern WV and others.”
One big partnership the university has its eye on lies with the Boy Scouts of America and the Summit.
The Summit could be a key component of the Tech Adventures program for student use and recruitment.
“We would love to give our students access to world-class facilities and trails,” Storck said. “We are working together to form a common vision between groups.”
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Matt Monroe, director of programs with the BSA at the Summit Bechtel Scouting Reserve, confirmed that the group is looking to work with West Virginia University Tech to benefit both agencies.
Monroe said he hopes opportunities will arise where the BSA can hire students from Tech who have become proficient in outdoor activities to offer internships and seasonal employment for outdoor programming at the reserve.
“A lot of things are still being discussed at this time that are premature to detail,” Monroe said. “But our relationship with WVU Tech is very important to us.”
Monroe did state that once an agreement is formalized between both groups, he hopes that Tech students will be able to use the Summit’s resources and the Boy Scouts of America would be able to use Tech’s facilities for programs like their STEM Scouts.
In the meantime, Tech Adventures is still solidifying its program for the future.
The program will have two full-time staff, Storck and an assistant director.
Storck said they will begin training student leaders in the spring and use 6-8 student workers next summer.
Once they have a fully running academic 18-credit program, he hopes to have 50-60 students enrolled. The largest program he was a part of, Garrett College, had enrolled around 90 students.
Yet Storck is ready to see incoming Tech students take part in the outdoor orientation program, which is not too far away.
“We want you to challenge yourself academically, physically and mentally,” Storck said. “You know, study hard and play hard.”
Read more about Tech Adventures.
On Thursday, May 19, educators and members of industry gathered in WVU Tech’s Carter Hall on the Beckley campus for EdTalks Beckley. The topic of discussion: innovation in public education and strengthening the state’s workforce.
Hosted by the Education Alliance, the EdTalks series connects education to industry throughout the state in presentations and networking events. Thursday’s event in Beckley brought together more than 60 attendees and featured speakers with corporate, community and higher education perspectives.
Tim O’Neal, ‘97, Production Director at The Dow Chemical Company in Charleston and a graduate of WVU Tech’s chemical engineering program, was the first to speak. He said that industry can play a vital role in connecting education to the state’s economic future by simply showing students what they’re capable of.
O’Neal shared that he’d always been good at mathematics and science, but had no idea how he could apply those aptitudes to a career. With the help of a math teacher and a visiting engineer who explained what the profession holds in store, he found his calling.
“For me it was awareness. I’m firmly convinced that I would not have attended engineering school had it not been for a couple of those folks coming into the classroom,” he said. “We’ve got to invest early in our children. Industry has to be proactive. That’s really partnering with and supporting our youth in their career and educational choices and giving our teachers the tools as well.”
He urged attendees to take on that proactive mindset by volunteering as mentors, sending professionals into the classroom and supporting outreach programs and summer camps that allow young students to explore career options.
Phillip Ferrier, director of the James C. Justice National Scout Camp at The Summit Bechtel Reserve, shared a perspective on strengthening education based on key scouting values: adventure, leadership, sustainability and service.
He likened the successful educational environment to a campfire, where counselors sing silly songs, poke fun at themselves and create an atmosphere where scouts feel at ease.
“The values that we teach in scouting encourage kids to try new things and to step outside their comfort zone,” he said. “It’s important in our education system that we build a place where students can be comfortable. Where they can try different new things and make mistakes.”
Rochelle Goodwin, Senior Associate Vice President for Academic and Public Strategy at West Virginia University, wrapped up the event.
She said that today’s students are looking at careers with many more moves from job to job than in previous generations. For millennials, she said, the average job lasts less than three years.
“Our children will need to be prepared for a lifetime of career changes that may reach into the dozens. How do they navigate that? They’re going to compete globally. Borders will matter less. Technologies that we haven’t yet imagined will be part of their everyday future workplaces,” she said.
She suggested that instilling a stronger sense of self-determination in students and developing professional “soft skills” would better equip them to navigate this new ever-changing career landscape.
“More often than not, our best employees, teammates and leaders are those who have good soft skills. Communication, attituŽde, teamwork, social interactions, finding solutions and professionalism,” she said. “I think what’s really critical for the state is a sense of agency, embracing a sense of agency that empowering idea that you are in control of your actions and can shape the future.”
In addition to the featured speakers, groups broke off during the event to discuss and share their own ideas for strengthening the connection between education and industry.
Thursday’s EdTalk was sponsored by Appalachian Power, City National Bank, Bowles Rice, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of West Virginia and West Virginia University. The Education Alliance’s next EdTalk will be hosted by Fairmont State University on Thursday, June 16.
WVU Tech’s Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences has earned a reputation for quality academics and for producing work-ready engineers. For Dr. Zeljko Torbica, that reputation was a major draw.
Dean Torbica (or Dean Z as he’s known by the campus community) came to the university after a storied career in construction engineering and academia. He started out as a structural engineer. He worked for a multi-national firm that was active in more than 70 countries. He spearheaded a popular online construction management program at Drexel University and published research in a number of professional journals.
In 2012, he decided to make the move to WVU Tech.
“It was a combination of things that brought me to Tech,” he said. “It was a new challenge in my professional career and an opportunity to have some influence on an engineering program that has been so respected for so many years.”
In his time in Montgomery, Torbica said he’s been pleased with the progress of the college. The University went through the rigorous ABET accreditation process, adding Computer Science as the ninth such accredited program. The college has expanded its public STEM outreach programming and has encouraged more students to share their work and build new student organizations.
The college has significantly improved in national rankings in the last few years as well, including U.S. News & World Report’s annual Top 100 Undergraduate Engineering Programs list. Torbica said it’s because his faculty and students have been working hard to spread the word by sharing their research and presenting at conferences and competitions.
“That improvement is mainly because we have been working aggressively to improve the visibility of WVU Tech’s engineering programs on a national and on a global scale. We’re sending faculty and students to be in as many places as possible,” he said.
The college has also chipped in on a number of national STEM initiatives.
Last year, it joined more than 120 schools nationwide in a commitment to produce engineers specially trained to address the large-scale “Grand Challenges” of the next few decades – challenges such as “engineering better medicines, making solar energy cost-competitive with coal, securing cyberspace, and advancing personalized learning tools to deliver better education to more individuals.” A letter outlining that commitment was presented to President Barack Obama in April of 2015.
The University also aligned itself with the American Society for Engineering Education’s (ASEE) Engineering Deans Council Diversity Initiative. Presented to the White House last August, that initiative seeks to increase opportunities for women and other under-represented demographics in the engineering disciplines among both students and faculty.
Public outreach is another critical aspect of the college’s mission. Faculty and students regularly work with K-12 educators throughout the region to introduce young minds to STEM fields. It’s a great way to further increase visibility, and Torbica sees a bright future for WVU Tech’s STEM outreach programming and summer programs like Camp STEM and the STEM Summer Academy for Girls.
“We believe that’s one area where we’re ahead of many of our peer institutions. We’ve really done a good job at trying to connect what we do with younger students and their parents. We want to expand those offerings and take them to the next level,” he said.
As the college heads into the next academic year and the University begins its transition to a new campus in Beckley, Torbica said that his team is focused and enthusiastic. Their goal is to maintain the college’s level of academic excellence while enhancing opportunities for students in the college’s programs.
“There is a legacy here that a lot of great professors have built over time, and the new group of people that we have hired is just spectacular,” said Torbica.
“Hands-on education is the trademark of Tech. There is a significant connection to real-life problems that we try to incorporate in our teaching philosophy. We don’t want to change the program. We just want to improve it even further.”
That hands-on focus means lots of research in the field and hefty lab requirements for students.
“We’re maintaining our academic rigor and our practical philosophy, and as we move forward, we’re also going to be focusing on our lab space and facilities. Competitive institutions maintain excellent facilities and we’re going to continue to do that to remain a competitive program,” he said.
Ultimately, Torbica wants to see the college double in size. He said that attractive programs, increased research opportunities and partnerships with local business and industry on internships and co-ops will help do the trick.
“I would like to see us significantly increase in that way, to offer more opportunities. I would like to see our college get to that critical mass. Our new location is going to offer an opportunity to really grow our program,” he said.
Torbica was recently named a fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The organization selected Torbica for his work on consumer satisfaction in the construction industry, which offered valuable insights for the business side of the construction engineering field.
“ASQ is a very influential global organization. Businesses and industry throughout the world look to them for guidance because ASQ is on the cutting edge of quality and improvement. This is a major recognition in my professional career and I’ll hold the title proudly,” he said.
He’s currently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the 2016 World Conference on Quality and Improvement, May 16-18, where he joined other ASQ fellows to be honored at a special event.
For Torbica, events like the ASQ World Conference offer a chance to spread the word about WVU Tech’s programs and exchange ideas with professionals in industry and academia.
He’ll take that line of thinking to Germany a month later. Torbica was selected to attend the German Academic Exchange Service’s (DAAD) Germany Today program in mid-June. That program will take college and university administrators from American institutions to Stuttgart, Darmstadt, Heidelberg and Bonn. The group will meet with officials from top German universities to discuss how these institutions partner with industry to enhance the student experience.
“They are the best at this, so I want to explore how they’re doing that and see if we can apply some of those practices here. I also want to uncover potential opportunities for collaboration between Tech and some of these international institutions,” he said.
“The way I see it, if you look at the common theme in all of this activity that we’re doing as a college, it’s about constant performance improvement a search for greater performance excellence. We find that by looking for new ideas and actually being in the epicenter of discussions. What is the next thing? What is the best practice? That’s what we’re interested in,” he said.
“You can always improve. You can always be better. That mindset is how we do things.”
More than 170 graduates from the WVU Tech class of 2016 were recognized by the University on Saturday, May 7, at the institution’s 117th Commencement Ceremony.
Campus President Carolyn Long offered a parting message of encouragement to the graduates in the crowded gymnasium.
“I’m inspired daily by the strength and spirit of the students in this room. It’s a constant source of pride to hear about Golden Bears traveling the country to accept awards and scholarships, share their ideas and chase their academic, athletic and personal pursuits,” she said.
“I’m inspired, too, by your dedication to the interests and causes that matter to you. You find something you’re passionate about or something you want to stand up for and you go for it. You don’t hold back, and that’s a powerful trait for the trained problem-solvers we’re sending into the world today.”
WVU Tech alumnus Mickey Reeves, ‘78, addressed the graduates as the ceremony’s featured speaker. Reeves is Vice President and Managing Director of Jacobs Consultancy, Inc., where he oversees a 140-employee practice covering the worldwide petroleum, chemicals and energy consulting for the firm.
He shared how a series of phone calls lead him to follow job opportunities across the country, shaping his career and leading him to the work he loves.
“If someone told me in 1978 that I would have done these things, I wouldn’t have believed them. While you may know where you will be next week or next month, you don’t have a clue where you will be five, ten, twenty years from now. And you know something? That’s okay. Any and everything is possible. It’s up to you,” he said. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Take those calls. Go somewhere you’ve never been.”
Graduates Tavon Johnson from the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences and Jacqueline Carroll from the College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences were awarded the University’s Presidential Leadership Awards. The graduates were selected for their significant roles in the improvement and development of the intellectual, social, cultural and athletic fabric of the WVU Tech community.
Visit WVU Tech on YouTube to watch the ceremony.
Check out photos from Commencement weekend on Flickr or view the slideshow below:
WVU Tech’s faculty members are dedicated to the advancement of the fields they teach. Outside of the classroom, they’re researchers, writers, presenters, go-to experts and road warriors who share their passion for learning with the world.
Here’s what our faculty members have been up to:
Dr. Houbing Song (Electrical and Computer Engineering) collaborated on and published four peer-reviewed journal papers in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology, IEEE Communications Magazine, Wireless Networks and International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks.
Dr. Deborah Chun’s (Mathematics) article, “Bicircular matroids representable over GF4 and GF5,” was accepted to Discrete Mathematics in late March. On April 9, Dr. Chun delivered her talk, “Capturing triangles in unavoidable minors,” at the Midwest Graph Theory conference hosted by Wright State University in Dayton. Ohio.
Andrew Wheeler, M.F.S. (Forensics) will present “A Case Study of a Tandem Bullet from a Small Caliber Revolver” at the Technical Session of the 47th Annual Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners Training Seminar in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 31.
Dr. Kenan Hatipoglu (Electrical and Computer Engineering) was awarded a $10,000 grant from the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for “Summer STEM Workshop for Middle School Teachers.”
Dr. Farshid Zabihian (Mechanical Engineering) received an award from NASA West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NASA WV EPSCoR) for his research entitled “Feasibility Study of Application of Abandoned Coal Mines for Residential Heating and Cooling in West Virginia.”
Dr. Gregory A. Lieving (Psychology) collaborated with colleagues at the University of Florida, Johns Hopkins University and Michigan State University to publish “Contingency enhances sensitivity to loss in a gambling task with diminishing returns” in The Psychological Record.
The semester is winding down and many departments at WVU Tech are already gearing up for August. Student Support Services (SSS) at WVU Tech is one such program, and the team at SSS has big plans for a busy fall.
The program served more than 200 students in the 2016-2017 academic year. It offers a wide range of services to students who qualify as low-income, first-generation or disabled. Program participants also have access to unique off-campus cultural and professional development events.
This year, for instance, the program took 20 students to see STOMP at the Clay Center on April 24. Another group of students saw the Blue Man Group in March. In April, a group of six SSS students attended the 15th Annual TRIO Student Leadership Conference in Flatwoods, West Virginia. The conference drew in 170 attendees from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
SSS director Scott Robertson said that attendees participated in hands-on, intensive leadership development sessions. They also participated in a community service project to help out the YWCA in Charleston. Robertson saw his own group became stronger as they built tangible leadership skills throughout the course of the program.
“They worked with peers from other schools in their age range to develop leadership skills that they can bring back to campus and implement in the classroom and in their student organizations. Some of them are applying to be resident advisors, so they’ll be able to use those skills in that setting as well,” he said.
Last summer, the program received a five-year, $1.7 million grant to continue operating at WVU Tech. Under the grant, SSS was able to hire a new student success advisor. Jeanette Vara started in December 2015 to help the program expand its reach and better serve its student population.
“She’s been a major asset and in her time here has already contributed immensely to the growth of the program,” said Robertson.
The new grant was also designed to get students involved in the program at a much faster rate. SSS saw many of its current students working though the program as soon as school started.
Because of the success of this year’s program, SSS hopes to gain access to increased funding in the 2016-2017 academic year. That increase in funding would establish a drop-in STEM tutoring service that would bring even more peer tutors to the program.
The increased in advisors and enhanced programming are just a few benefits program students can expect to see next year. New students will go through their own orientation program and will team up with a peer mentor from within the program. These mentors will attend workshops, on-campus programs, sporting events and cultural activities to help build a sense of community within the program.
SSS is already planning cultural events for next year, too. With the University’s new campus opening in Beckley, Robertson said that the team is looking into events in that region as well.
Robertson is enthusiastic about the enhanced team and new programming, but there’s more in store for TRIO at Tech in the upcoming academic year.
Starting October 1, 2016, Robertson, who currently serves as president of West Virginia TRIO. will have even more opportunities to advocate for TRIO. He was recently voted president-elect of the Mid-Eastern Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MEAEOPP).
The office runs on a three-year term cycle. Robertson will serve one year as president-elect, one year as president and a third year as immediate past-president.
In this position, he will work with lawmakers and TRIO representatives to promote and advocate for TRIO programming. He will also serve on the national TRIO Council for Opportunity and Education board, where he’ll represent the entire mid-eastern region of TRIO programs in West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Washington, D.C.
As a TRIO program alumnus himself, Robertson is eager to get to work in the new role. He sees it as an opportunity to be a voice for both rural students and TRIO alumni.
“I know that the opportunities I have would not exist if it weren’t for those who came before me, if it weren’t for those advocating and fighting for our programs,” he said.
“This will allow me to share my own experience in the program. It will allow me to uncover information on issues that impact the first-generation, low-income and disabled students that make up a significant percentage of our population here. This can help us continue our growth and get the word out that WVU Tech is a place that operates as a family and is here to make sure that these students are taken care of.”
We recently asked the WVU Tech community to vote on a theme for next fall’s Homecoming celebration. With 63% of the vote, the winning 2016 Homecoming theme is “Celebrating a Legacy Through the Decades.”
The theme celebrates the history of WVU Tech, West Virginia and its people. We’ll be developing decades-themed events and activities over the summer months, so keep an eye on WVU Tech’s Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information.
This year’s Homecoming will be hosted in Montgomery November 11-12.
On Tuesday, April 26, students, faculty and staff gathered in the WVU Tech Center to celebrate the campus’ first Lavender Graduation ceremony an event that recognizes graduating LGBTQ and ally students and their accomplishments.
The ceremony was organized by the Tech Alliance, WVU Tech’s LGBTQ and ally student organization.
Ashley Burns, the first president and founding member of Tech Alliance, was one of the graduates honored during the ceremony. She shared the history of Lavender Graduation and its importance as a milestone for students in the LGBTQ community.
“Lavender Graduation is a cultural celebration that recognizes LGBT students of all races and ethnicities and acknowledges their achievements and contributions to the university,” she said. “It is an event to which LGBTQ students look forward, where they not only share their hopes and dreams with one another, but where they are officially recognized by the institution for their leadership and their successes.”
The organization also recently received a congratulatory note from the Human Rights Campaign recognizing the newly founded group. WVU Tech will now join WVU on the list of college campuses who provide a Lavender Graduation. WVU and WVU Tech are the only campuses in West Virginia who are currently recognized by the HRC for hosting these ceremonies.
The Tech Alliance was founded in the spring semester of 2016. It seeks to promote awareness of, educate others about, set a positive example for and provide support to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and ally community.
Richard Carpinelli, WVU Tech Dean of Students, shared that he’s looking forward to seeing the new organization flourish at WVU Tech.
“This newly established group shows that we are about people, fairness and about moving forward as a family. I’m proud of this organization’s commitment to social justice, gender equality and human rights. You have set a tone for the students who follow you. They will feel the impact of your work in starting this organization,” he said.
Campus President Carolyn Long addressed attendees during the ceremony, encouraging the new group to continue their work.
“It’s never easy to be first, but you have been the first. We appreciate all of you for being active on campus and for making a difference,” said Long.
New Tech Alliance officers for the 2016-2017 academic year were also sworn in during the ceremony:
President Madison Stone
Vice President Cody Carter
Treasurer Robert Simon
Secretary Lesli Taylor
Check out photos below or on Flickr.
WVU Tech students and staff shared their support of the event on social media.
I’m so honored to be a graduate of the first WVU Tech Lavender Graduation. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life! I would like to thank everyone for their encouragement and support!
– Janet Cunningham, Biology student
Back in January, I spoke to some campus faculty and asked how it was that our campus could introduce a group specialized for the LGBTQA students on campus. To not only spread equality and love but to also help students whom don’t fit societies standard mold. As student founder and the first president, I learned so much not only about the LGBTQA community but met some amazing people and supporters along the way. Today, was the first annual Lavender Graduation for WVU Tech and I am so proud to be a part of it. I was honored with reading the history and meaning of this special event and sadly but proudly watched the new president take her oath. I am so amazed with this organization and what it has become in just one semester.
– Ashley Burns, Criminal Justice student
I am so honored to have been a part of history in the making for WVU Tech! We have a great group of people who are on the forefront progress and I am extremely happy that I am a part of it!
– Cody Carter, Mathematics student
So honored to be a part of history at WVU Tech with the inaugural Lavender Graduation.
– Emily Sands, Associate Dean of Students
The first of something special. Extremely proud to be a part of WVU Tech’s first Lavender Graduation for our newly organized LGBTQ student organization, Tech Alliance! Super excited to continue to grow this organization as we move forward! Congrats to our two graduating seniors.
– Christina Dalton, Tech Alliance Co-Advisor and WVU Tech Chief Financial Officer
On Saturday, April 23, 2016, WVU Tech recognized the newest members of the distinguished group of Alumni of the Year recipients at a banquet at the Charleston Marriott.
The 2016 awardees were David F. Meadows, ‘74, from the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering and Sciences and Deborah Hill, ‘86 and ‘87, from the College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences.
Meadows, of Culloden, West Virginia, received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tech in 1974. He holds master’s degrees in engineering from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Meadows is the Chief Technical Officer and Southwest Regional Manager for Triad Engineering, Inc. In this capacity, he is responsible for the technical expertise, quality and risk management of Triad’s services as well as day-to-day operations of the region. He is a member of the WVU Tech Civil Engineering Advisory Board.
During his remarks, Meadows shared that while some things have changed over the years, the commitment of the faculty at WVU Tech hasn’t. He said that the passion the faculty had for mentoring and teaching enabled and encouraged him to mentor and help others.
“The professors’ doors were always open. They had a passion for engineering then, and they still do,” he said. “I’ve carried that passion through my career.”
Hill, of Mt. Nebo, West Virginia, is a Tech alumna with an associate degree in nursing (1986) and a bachelor’s degree in health services administration (1987). She holds a master’s in health care management from West Virginia College of Graduate Studies.
An experienced health care professional, Hill has 28 years of management experience. She is currently the Director of Long Term Care for Montgomery General Hospital. She serves on several state and community boards, including the WVU Tech Health Service Program Advisory Board.
Hill shared that she was proud of her experience at WVU Tech and has helped others in her family pursue higher education. Earlier in the day, Hill said she took a fourth family member to get registered to attend WVU Tech.
“I am proud for any of my children to go to Tech,” she said.
Hill also shared that she was pleased to have toured the Beckley campus.
“Change is around us and we need to embrace it,” she said. “The future is bright for us and for our students.”
Since 1949, WVU Tech has honored graduates by selecting outstanding alumni for the Alumni of the Year Award. To be selected for this honor, alumni must have achieved recognition in their profession, have a strong commitment to service and have given their time and talents to Tech by serving as a role model for all alumni.
View photos from the event on Flickr.
Registration for WVU Tech’s 2016 summer session is open. Classes begin on Monday, May 16, and the session will include a wide range of in-class and online courses.
Students not yet admitted to the university should apply online as soon as possible if they wish to start during the summer session. To find out more, contact WVU Tech Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304.442.3146.