A philanthropic-minded couple, two successful businessmen, the associate dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and a longtime Student Affairs employee will be honored asMost Loyalsduring the 60th annual Mountaineer Week, a celebration of Appalachian heritage, Nov. 2-11, on West Virginia Universitys campus.
The 2007 honorees are Ben and Jo Statler, Most Loyal West Virginians; Verl Purdy and Bill Raney, Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineers; Royce Watts, Most Loyal Faculty Mountaineer; and Sonja Wilson, Most Loyal Staff Mountaineer. The group will be honored during halftime ceremonies of Thursdays (Nov. 8) WVU -Louisville football game.
The Most Loyal West Virginian and Alumni Mountaineer awards have been presented since 1974, while the Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineer award was created in 1994 and split into two separate awards in 2001.
Most Loyal West Virginians
The Most Loyal West Virginianexemplifies faithfulness to the ideals and goals of the state of West Virginia through business, professional and civic achievement as well as support of WVU .
Benjamin M. and Bonnie JoJoStatler have long been supporters of the University and the local area.
The couple recently made the single largest gift ever to WVU , a $25 million donation to fund breast cancer care and other health programs, along with programs at the WVU College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. They also have made significant financial contributions to WVU Athletics.
The Statlers are both natives of Monongalia County and attended Clay-Battelle High School. Ben Statler earned his degree in mining engineering at WVU while working the nightshift at the Pursglove mine. Before their children were born, Jo Statler worked for the WVU School of Dentistry.
Ben Statler spent much of his career with Consolidation Coal Co., working his way up to become senior vice president of mining for CONSOL in 1996. He formed his own mining company in 1999. In July 2003, Benjamin M. Statler LLC and Questor Management acquired the assets of U.S. Steel Mining Co. and founded PinnOak Resources LLC . He served as president and chief executive officer of PinnOak until he sold the company in July 2007.
Recently, the couple donated $1.2 million to Monongalia County Schools to build a new gymnasium at Clay-Battelle in Blacksville.
Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineers
The Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer exemplifies faithfulness to the ideals and goals of the University and exhibits support for WVU activities and operations through leadership and service.
Verl O. Purdy and William B. Raney have been active and faithful supporters of WVU .
Purdy, of Poca, is president and chief executive officer of AGDATA , the largest agricultural data analysis and marketing company in the world.
He began his career with the BASF Group, a leading chemical company, and played a major role in developing it into a multibillion dollar enterprise. In 1980, he became president
and chief executive officer of Rio Tinto Zinc Chemicals, and then in 1984, founded AGDATA .
Since graduating from WVU in 1964 with a degree in chemical engineering, Purdy has become a very generous and dedicated friend of the institution.
He serves on the WVU Academy of Chemical Engineers and the WVU Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame and the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni. He also recently established the Verl O. Purdy Fellowship in Chemical Engineering at WVU .
Raney, of South Charleston, has served as president of the West Virginia Coal Association since 1992. Before that, he was vice president of the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association and served in various positions with the state Department of Natural Resources.
In his role with the coal association, he has worked to garner support for various WVU programs, including mining engineering, medicine and athletics. His efforts helped lead to the Coal Bowl, the annual football game between WVU and Marshall University.
Rainey has served on numerous boards and councils across the state.
He received both his masters in public administration and bachelors degree in biology from WVU .
Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineers
The Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineers exemplify faithfulness to the ideals and goals of WVU and exhibit support for University activities and operations through leadership and service.
Royce J. Watts has provided consistent and dedicated service to WVU for more than half a century.
He began his WVU teaching career as an instructor of accounting and economics in 1955. Over five decades later, he continues to teach while serving as associate dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, where hes been an integral part of the colleges growth and success.
Watts has long been involved in the Mining, Petroleum and Natural Gas Museum at WVU . In 2005, the West Virginia Coal Mining Institute endowed the museum, and it was renamed the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum in honor of the couples contributions to WVU and the states mining heritage.
In 1997, Watts was named a Distinguished West Virginian for his service to the oil, natural gas and mining industries.
He has a bachelors degree in business administration and a masters in economics from WVU .
Sonja Wilson has served for many years as a program coordinator for WVU s Student Affairs.
She has been the driving force behind Mountaineer Week, working to make it one of the premier events on campus and across the state, for about 20 years.
A dedicated staff member and friend of WVU , Wilson also serves as an adviser to the Mountaineer Mascot Reunion and is involved in other University programs, including the Mountaineer Idol competition and Student Affairs Hall of Fame.