The West Virginia University Foundation has announced the recipients of its 2008 Outstanding Philanthropy awards.

The awards honor those donors who display exceptional generosity, commitment, leadership and proven records of outstanding civic and charitable devotion to the University.

This years recipients are Ben and Jo Statler, Outstanding Philanthropists; Eric Suder, Outstanding Volunteer Philanthropist; and the Maier Foundation, Outstanding Philanthropic Organization.

We congratulate this years honorees for their willingness to give in so many ways from financial support to innovative philanthropic ideas,said R. Wayne King, president and CEO of the WVU Foundation.The day-to-day excellence at WVU is possible as a result of their caring and commitment.

The awards were first given in 2005 to mark the WVU Foundations 50th anniversary.

Ben and Jo Statler

The Statlers, both natives of Monongalia County, are being honored for their commitment and generosity to WVU .

Last fall, the couple announced its intention to donate $25 million to WVU , the single largest gift ever to the University.

The first $5 million will go to the Comprehensive Breast Cancer Program at WVU s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.It will provide funding for a mobile mammography unit namedBonnies Bus,after Jo Statlers mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson, who died of breast cancer in 1987. The gift also will be used to fund two professorships dedicated to cancer research.

The remaining $20 million will fund other health care, engineering and athletics programs and initiatives.

Ben Statler earned his degree in mining engineering from WVU in 1973 while working the night shift at a local 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 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.

Eric Suder

Eric Suder, a native of Buckhannon, is being honored for his financial support of WVU and leadership as a volunteer.

A 1967 graduate of the University, Suder founded Estech Systems Inc. in 1987 and currently serves as CEO of the highly successful and nationally known Texas-based telecommunications company.

Suder has demonstrated a deep personal commitment to philanthropy. In 2003, he established the Suder Scholars program at WVU , aimed at helping students with significant financial need.

Later, he helped with the development of the Foundations Augusta Scholarship program by providing ideas and feedback. Once the program was established, Suder created a challenge grant that encouraged others to give to the scholarship. The challenge grant was met and surpassed. Because of this, all gifts to the Augusta Scholarship fund are now placed in the principle, increasing the scholarship in perpetuity.

Suder also has funded scholarship programs at the University of Texas. In 2005, he created the ESI Disaster Relief Fund to help those impacted by the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The Maier Foundation

The Maier Foundation has been a faithful contributor to WVU for several years, especially in the areas of law and medicine.

Philanthropist William J. Maier Jr., a native of Clarksburg, established the Foundation in 1958 as the Sarah and Pauline Maier Scholarship Foundation in honor of his mother and wife. Renamed the Maier Foundation in 2003, it is a private, nonprofit, charitable corporation located in Charleston whose primary focus is on the furtherance of higher education in West Virginia. Ed Maier, the son of William J. Maier Jr., is president of the foundation.

In 2007, the Maier Foundations funding of the William J. Maier Jr. Chair of Law surpassed $2 million, enabling WVU to elevate the chair to a deanship. In addition, the Maier Foundation has endowed the Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. Chair of Law and the Warren Point Chair of Internal Medicine in the WVU School of Medicines Charleston Division.

The Maier Foundation also has established major scholarship endowments and provided $2 million toward construction of a medical education building for the Charleston Division of the WVU Medical Center and $5.4 million for the Maier Village student housing complex there.

The WVU Foundation is a private, nonprofit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU .