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Verl and Sandra Purdy make $5 million gift commitment to WVU

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Verl Purdy addresses audience as wife Sandra and College of Engineering Dean Gene Cilento look on at gift announcement at the Advanced Engineering Research building Evansdale campus  Friday (Nov. 3).
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West Virginia University graduate Verl O. Purdy attributes much of his success to the education and opportunities he received as a student at WVU in the 1960s.

The Poca native, who founded the largest agricultural data analysis and marketing company in the world, and his wife, Sandra, are now giving back to WVU with a $5 million donation, announced Friday (Nov. 3). The gift will be split between the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the College of Business and Economics and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Purdy graduated from WVU in 1964 with a degree in chemical engineering and later earned his MBA from University of North Carolina-Charlotte. This launched him on a career path that included leadership and management roles at B.F. Goodrich Chemicals, FMC, BASF and Rio Tinto Zinc Chemicals before he created AGDATA Inc. He sold AGDATA in 2010, and is currently president of Cadrillion Capital, a company that invests in and grows businesses in the healthcare information sector. 

“West Virginia University gave me the opportunity to live the dream and journey from being a student in a one-room elementary school to a first-generation college graduate,” Purdy said. “My parents realized the value of higher education and made great personal sacrifices, provided continuous encouragement, and never lost faith in my journey to succeed. Sandra and I, along with my family, hope that our gift can make many dreams come true for the generations that follow in our path.”

The leadership gift is part of the highly successful “State of Minds” comprehensive private fundraising campaign for WVU, of which Verl Purdy serves as co-chairman. He has been a member of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors since 2004, serving two years as chairman.

“It is because of the generosity and the leadership of our alumni, such as Verl Purdy, that West Virginia University can continue to achieve great success,” said WVU President Gordon Gee.

"Verl often credits this University as providing him the foundation he needed to create a vibrant career. However, credit must also go to Verl in that his dedication to alma mater – through both this gift and his service to the WVU Foundation – will allow future generations to receive the same quality education he received. I am grateful for both Verl and Sandra’s commitment to this University."

The largest part of the gift, $4 million, will go to the Statler College to fund endowed scholarships, faculty fellowships and an endowed faculty chair.  The inaugural holder of the endowed chair will be designated as the director of the WVU Energy Institute.

“I am delighted by the special gift made by Verl and Sandra. Verl has been extremely dedicated and generous with his time, talents and philanthropic giving to the College for many years,” said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “He has made transformational gifts to the College over the years, and this new gift will significantly add to that legacy.

“I am especially delighted that the Purdys have chosen to support continued faculty development in the Statler College with an endowed chair and faculty fellowship endowments as well as an undergraduate scholarship endowment for deserving West Virginia students,” Cilento continued. “We are especially honored that the first holder of the endowed chair will be the director of the WVU Energy Institute, Brian Anderson, who we were able to recruit to WVU thanks to an earlier gift made by Verl. 

The remaining $1 million will be split evenly between the College of Business and Economics and WVU Athletics to fund endowed scholarships and an endowed experiential opportunity fund at B&E, and a golf program endowment at athletics.

“The WVU College of Business and Economics is thankful for this gift from Verl and Sandra Purdy and the opportunities it will create,” said Javier Reyes, B&E Milan Puskar Dean.

“They appreciate that business learning and the global marketplace now demand experience through practical application and a deeper understanding of entrepreneurship and innovation. That understanding and their generosity to help support experiential learning make this gift both special and meaningful for students.”

Athletic Director Shane Lyons added, “On behalf of the WVU Athletic Department, I want to thank Verl and Sandra Purdy for their generosity to our golf program. Our golf program has made great competitive strides since its popular return, and this gift will benefit and advance our golf scholarships. Verl and Sandra are great Mountaineers, and I appreciate their willingness to help move the golf program forward and be a part of our team.”

Verl Purdy’s commitment to excellence extends to the community, especially in his support of education. He is a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary International, a sponsor of the Technology Forum at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and has established an annual scholarship fund for Poca High School students. 

He is a member of the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni, WVU Chemical Engineering Academy of Distinguished Alumni and the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame.

In 2011, he was inducted into the WVU Order of Vandalia, the University’s highest honor for service and loyalty. In 2009, Purdy earned an honorary doctorate of science from WVU. Other honors include 2013 Outstanding Alumni and 2007 Most Loyal Mountaineer.

Sandra Purdy is a native of Wisconsin and attended Carroll College in Waukesha. She began her career as the manager of Direct Relocation Services in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1991, she joined the AGDATA family of companies and served as executive vice president of marketing services for more than 18 years.

She is a founding member of Women of West Virginia University, an organization devoted to providing funding that enhances the female student academic experience.

Earlier this year, the couple was honored by the WVU Foundation with its Milan Puskar Outstanding Philanthropist award.

“What an amazing gift from such loyal friends of West Virginia University,” said Cindi Roth, WVU Foundation president and CEO. “Thank you so much, Verl and Sandra, for your decades of generosity, leadership and service. You have given both your time and treasure in ways that will benefit our great University.”

The Purdys are the parents of five children and have 13 grandchildren. They divide their time between their homes in West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

-WVU-

bn/11/03/17

CONTACTS: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation
304.284.4056; wnevin@wvuf.org

OR

Mary Dillon, Statler College
304.293.4086; mary.dillon@mail.wvu.edu

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.