West Virginia University's engineering and mineral resources school will be named the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in honor of businessman, philanthropist and alumnus Ben Statler, WVU President Jim Clements and other officials announced Thursday (Jan. 12).
Statler and his wife, Jo, both natives of Monongalia County, today pledged $34 million to the College, the largest single gift commitment ever to the University and to a college at a special ceremony at Erickson Alumni Center; $11 million of the donation will qualify for a match from the state Research Trust Fund, making the total value of the naming gift $45 million. A portion of today's pledge comes from a previously announced commitment.
With this historic gift, CEMR becomes only the third college at WVU to be named for a benefactor.
Over the years, the Statlers have supported many WVU initiatives including the comprehensive breast cancer program at WVU's Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; the new Erickson Alumni Center building; the Basketball Practice Facility and other Athletics capital improvements, including the Coliseum scoreboards. The direct impact of their lifetime of support to WVU, including today's gift announcement, is nearly $60 million.
Clements said the naming recognizes the generosity and support of two extraordinary individuals committed to academic excellence and WVU's land-grant mission.
"This is an extraordinary gift from extraordinary people," Dr. Clements said. "Ben and Jo Statler's ties to WVU go back to their childhoods when they met in 4-H and through their many gifts those ties will go on forever. From health care, to athletics, to academics, the Statlers have been extremely generous in helping WVU help others," he said.
"The College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is already outstanding on many fronts and this gift will truly take the College to the next level and benefit the students, faculty, and staff in countless ways. On behalf of a very grateful University community, I extend our heartfelt thanks to Ben and Jo Statler for their incredible support of excellence in our academic mission."
The gift "will help us advance our strategic goals: to build a world-class energy research program, to provide our students with a top-notch educational and research experience in science and engineering and to enable our faculty and students to pursue advances in research," Clements said.
"As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the land-grant university, this gift will help us to fulfill our land-grant promise of changing lives through education and changing the world through innovation," he said.
Jo Statler requested that instead of the College being named after the couple, it be named the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources after her husband who graduated from the College in 1973.
"We are very grateful to Ben and Jo for their continued generosity and commitment to WVU", said Wayne King, WVU Foundation president and CEO. "The impact of this transformational gift will be experienced by students and faculty now and for many years to come. From scholarships, to advances in research, to improved facilities, the benefits coming to the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources from this donation will be far reaching. On behalf of the entire Foundation team, I extend my sincere thanks to the Statlers."
The Statlers have received numerous honors, including Most Loyal West Virginians, the WVU Foundation's Outstanding Philanthropists Award, and the Milan Puskar Award. In 2009, they each received honorary doctorates from WVU during commencement ceremonies.
A third generation coal miner, Ben Statler received his bachelor's degree in mining engineering from WVU in 1973. While attending WVU, he began his career at CONSOL Energy, working as a laborer. For 30 years, he held various positions at CONSOL Energy before starting his own mining company, PinnOak Resources LLC. Statler served as president and CEO of PinnOak until he sold the company in 2007.
Currently, Statler is co-founder and CEO of Gulf Coast Capital Partners, a private investment firm founded in 2008 that is focused on acquiring and providing capital to middle market companies in special situations.
He has served on the advisory committee for WVU's Department of Mining Engineering and was named to the WVU Foundation Board of Directors in August 2008.
Jo Statler, who worked for WVU's School of Dentistry, has been a strong supporter of her community and WVU. She helped launch Bonnie's Bus which provides digital mammography services to women in remote areas of West Virginia. The bus is named after Jo's mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson, who died of breast cancer.
The Statlers currently reside in McMurray, Pa and Naples, Fla. They are the parents of two children, Julie and Ben II, and the grandparents of three grandsons.
CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
or Mary Dillon, College of Engineering and Mineral Resources 304.293.4086; Mary.Dillon@mail.wvu.edu
For more information on news and events in the WVU College of Engineering and Mineral Resources:
College Relations office, 304-293-4086
Office of the Dean, 304-293-4157
Other College administrative and department offices:
For more information click here: WVUToday