Parkersburg, W.Va. (June 30, 2023) – WVU Parkersburg President Dr. Torie Jackson announced today that the college’s foundation will be the recipient of the largest donation ever gifted to the institution.
The Ross Foundation is providing $10 million to the WVU at Parkersburg Foundation to create a WVUP Technology Center. The WVUP Foundation has signed an asset purchase agreement for the former OVU property in Wood County. After being approved by both the estate and bankruptcy courts, the WVUP Foundation will buy the property and use remaining funds to renovate it.
“While the path to today has taken a few turns, it is leading us to an opportunity to impact the future economic development of the Mid-Ohio Valley,” Jackson said at a press conference held at WVUP on Friday, June 30. She was joined by Tres Ross of The Ross Foundation, as well as several other dignitaries and board members.
“We’re happy to be part of this initiative that will help the WVU Parkersburg in an entrepreneurial way,” said Ross. “We look forward to helping to grow more programs for our youth, especially in information technology businesses that create entrepreneurial opportunities.”
The future WVUP Technology Center will be a place where the college will focus on growth of degrees in computer science, computer information technology, the bachelor of applied technology in cybersecurity and networking, as well as opportunities for growth in degrees like mechanical engineering.
In addition, the college hopes to add a space for 25 technology-based incubators to operate in the same facility as the collegiate education of our students. They plan to work with the Wood County Development Authority and the WV Office of Economic Development to attract companies to the Mid-Ohio Valley to begin incubating in the new facility and bring technology jobs with them. The college also will be incubating student businesses, with winners of the pitch competition – with the first competition held this spring by our Erickson Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship Professor Charles Almond – having a place to incubate their businesses as they move from a concept and business plan to an operating company.
“This project is about an ecosystem change in Wood County. It’s about a higher education institution having an opportunity to bring transformative change to the economy of the Mid-Ohio Valley by partnering to bring new technology businesses here. This project is about giving students a safe place to begin tech businesses alongside prospering companies in an incubator facility,” Jackson said. “What we have before us is opportunity. Thank you, again, to The Ross Foundation for this amazing gift. We are blessed and honored to receive it.”
WV Community and Technical College System Chancellor Dr. Sarah Tucker, who was unable to attend the press conference, shared the following: “I believe this is the single greatest donation ever given to a community college in West Virginia,” Chancellor Tucker said. “I am extremely proud of the work of our community colleges and WVU Parkersburg in particular. President Jackson and her team have worked very hard to secure this donation. I am so grateful for them and thankful for The Ross Foundation for their unwavering support.”
“This is a game changer in the sense that the opportunities for Parkersburg, Vienna, and the Wood County area are going to be on the forefront of the technology realm,” said WV Delegate Vernon Criss.
“If you look around, you can see that we live in a very special place. It’s a place where people will work together and help each other in order to better the community,” added WVU at Parkersburg Foundation Board Chair Becky Deem-McGinnis.
The former OVU property is in a unique situation. Signing the asset purchase agreement now means that attorneys will file motions in bankruptcy court and in estate court as the property is being held in a receivership. Then hearings will be held. After the courts make a ruling, an appeal process will be 14 days for bankruptcy court and 30 days for the estate in receivership court. WVUP will provide a timeline for completion of the new technology center after that process is complete.
“We’re about to embark on the July 4 weekend, where many of us will watch fireworks. Before that firework hits the sky, it is in a very plain, dense container made up of many parts. The people sitting in this room today are just some of the parts that have been gathered together to be launched into the air and it will light up the sky with beauty and energy and love for our community to see,” said WVU Parkersburg Board of Governors Chair Joe Oliverio. “On behalf of the Board of Governors, thank you for beinga part of the container and being able to see the vision that Sam Ross and the Ross Foundation had for this college, the community and our students.”