West Virginia University at Parkersburg held its 46th annual spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6 at 10:30 a.m. This semester, the college has 283 students who are candidates for graduation pending final grades with approximately 130 who participated in the commencement ceremony.
“Over the years, the college has educated and trained thousands of health professionals, educators, businessmen and women, and skilled workers who have led successful careers, contributing economically, socially and politically to this community,” said Dr. Fletcher Lamkin, WVU Parkersburg president. “Today, our college has the highest student success rate of any community college in the state.”
In his message to graduates, Lamkin encouraged them to look ahead to what lies in the future.
“As you think about the life you want to lead, I would like to commend you for the steps you have taken to better your lives. All too often, people are wrapped up in making excuses for why they can’t accomplish a goal, rather than overcoming the obstacles in their path,” said President Lamkin. “It is our expectation, hope, and prayer that you will believe in yourselves, give as much as you have been given, and never give up.”
World War II Medal of Honor recipient Hershel “Woody” Williams gave the commencement address. Williams was born on a dairy farm in 1923 in Quiet Dell, W.Va. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served in the Battle of Iwo Jima. During the battle, Williams displayed “valiant devotion to duty” and service above self as he “enabled his company to reach its objective.” His actions, commitment to his fellow service members, and heroism were recognized on Oct. 5, 1945, when he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Truman at the White House.
The college announced emeritus award recipients which included:
· Matthew Santer, professor of psychology, following 43 years of service;
· Dr. Rebecca Phillips, professor of English, following 29 years of service;
· Dr. Alita Sellers, professor of nursing, following 26 years of service;
· Dr. Patricia Gaston, professor of English, following 24 years of service;
· Beth Cox, professor of art, following 20 years of service;
· Dr. Nancy Nanney, professor of English, following 17 years of service; and
· Dr. Dianne Davis, associate professor of business, following 13 years of service.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Lamkin presented award honorary degrees to Joe Campbell and Tom Taggart. Joe Campbell has been directly involved with WVU Parkersburg since 1999, serving on its Board of Advisers for nine years and as chairman from 2003 to 2006. During that time he also represented the college on the WVU Board of Governors and was chairman of the regional campus committee. In 2008, he became a member of the WVU Parkersburg Board of Governors and served as chairman for multiple years.
In addition to his service and leadership with WVU Parkersburg, Campbell served on the Board of Trustees for Camden Clark Memorial Hospital from 1997 to 2011 and has been a member of its Board since 2011. He currently represents Camden Clark Medical Center on the West Virginia University Health Systems Board and serves on the Board of the Camden Clark Physicians Corporation. He has been a member of the Wood County Development Authority since 2003 and served as its chairman for two years. He has also served in leadership of the American Heart Association, the United Way of the Mid-Ohio Valley, and the Family Crisis Intervention Center.
Tom Taggart is a champion for broadcast communications in the Mid-Ohio Valley. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Marietta College and graduated from Marshall College of Law before becoming a member of the Ohio Bar in 1974. As half-owner of Seven Ranges Radio in St. Mary’s, W.Va., Taggart tirelessly supports local radio. He helped build WRRR-FM in St. Mary’s in 1983. He built WXCR in New Martinsville in 2001, and he purchased WVVV in Williamstown in 2009.
Taggart spent many hours on the WVU Parkersburg campus as crews constructed the college radio station, WPKM 96.3 FM, in 2014. Throughout the process of setting up WPKM station, Taggart worked closely with WVU Parkersburg faculty and students to help secure the only community college radio station in West Virginia.
Bernard P. McDonough Faculty Member of the Year
Dr. Rose Beebe was announced as the college’s Bernard P. McDonough Faculty Member of the Year. Beebe was instrumental in preparing the self-study necessary to apply for initial accreditation of the RN-to-BSN program. She planned for and hosted the site visitors from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, all the while attending to her numerous other administrative duties. She has worked to strengthen and improve the quality of the RN-to-BSN program and has served as a mentor to faculty. In the past year, she also took an extra role to serve as a mentor for the new academic division chair.
“During the past few critical years for the Nursing and Health Sciences division, Rose’s leadership has been a driving force in the positive changes that have taken place that will impact not only the college and its students but the community as well,” said President Lamkin. “Her dedication to creating new programs, seeking accreditation for new programs, including the RN-to-BSN program, and ensuring compliance with the myriad of accrediting and supervisory organizations is unparalleled.”
Alumna of the Year
Darlene Murphy, principal of Van Devender Middle School, was named Alumna of the Year. In 2002, Murphy began her journey at WVU Parkersburg as the first of her family to attend college. Murphy completed her bachelor’s degree in elementary education while raising her three sons. She holds a master’s in elementary education from Marshall University and a master’s in educational leadership from Wheeling Jesuit University. She was a soldier in the National Guard and also worked closely with the Boys & Girls Club of Parkersburg.
“At commencement, all of you become successful alumni,” said President Lamkin. “You set out to earn your degree and each of you here has been successful. But it doesn’t end there. You have also received the skills necessary to continue that success in your careers, your lives, and your community. Today, we are proud to honor yet another WVU-P alum who has exemplified what it means to continue that success.”