The West Virginia University P.I. Reed School of Journalism has received its first major gift toward its planned Media Innovation Center. Alexis Costanzo Pugh (BSJ, 1973) and her husband James H. “Jim” Pugh Jr. have given $250,000 to support a new media innovation lab in Martin Hall. The lab will serve as both a high-tech classroom and an incubator for emerging media products and applications.

The Alexis and Jim Pugh Media Innovation Lab in Martin Hall will be an open, flexible environment that offers students access to the latest media technology and fosters creativity, ideation and product development. Students and faculty across disciplines will work in teams to develop, test and deploy new media applications, platforms and strategies, with the goal of re-envisioning rural and hyper-local communities using emergent digital and mobile media tools.

School of Journalism Dean Maryanne Reed said this gift will help the School strengthen its position as a leader in modern media education.

“This gift from Alexis and Jim Pugh is truly transformational,” Reed said. “It will provide our students with the latest media tools and technology and help them develop the creative problem-solving skills and entrepreneurial mindset they need to be successful in the changing media industry.”

By helping future generations of media communicators get their start, Alexis Pugh says she is honoring the school that launched her own professional career.

“It’s very important to me to be able to repay in a small way what I received from my WVU School of Journalism education,” Pugh said. “I was well prepared for what became a long career in advertising and PR when I left Morgantown, and I never forgot what I learned from Professor Atkins, Dr. McCartney, Dean Stewart and other great instructors. They gave me a foundation to stand upon for my entire life. I also felt strongly that the Lab should be in Martin Hall, part of the historical center of the main campus and the site of many memorable experiences for me.”

WVU President Jim Clements says the Pughs’ gift supports the University’s emphasis on research and teaching innovation.

“This gift from Alexis and Jim Pugh is a direct investment in our innovation mission, and more importantly, it is an investment in the future of our students,” Clements said. “It is a powerful testament to our faculty and staff to hear Alexis talk about the quality of her education in preparing her for a successful career, and it is a reflection of Alexis and Jim’s generous spirit that they are sharing that success to help future students have the same opportunities she did. On behalf of the many who will follow in her footsteps, I want to thank Alexis and Jim for this very special gift from the heart.”

After graduating, Alexis Pugh spent more than 35 years as an executive in the advertising and public relations industry, working at agencies in Atlanta, Washington and Orlando. Although retired, she remains active in community service and serves on a number of boards. Pugh is a member of the School of Journalism’s Visiting Committee, a member of the Board of Trustees of Bethune Cookman University, director of the University of Florida Foundation, director of the Community Foundation of Central Florida and director of the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and of Central Florida Public Broadcasting (NPR). She is also an advisory board member of the Center for Women’s Medicine at Winter Park Memorial/Florida Hospital and of Wells Fargo. A founding member of the University of Florida’s UF Women initiative, Pugh is working with the WVU Foundation to implement Women for WVU and serves on the advisory committee. She and her husband Jim live in Winter Park, Fla.

The lab in Martin Hall is scheduled for completion by Fall 2014. It will serve as a launch pad for the School’s new Media Innovation Center on the Evansdale campus – a 10,000 square-foot space to be housed in the Evansdale Crossing building tentatively slated for completion in Spring 2015.

The gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015.



CONTACT: Kimberly Walker, School of Journalism

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