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WVU earns prestigious designation as an ‘Innovation and Economic Prosperity University’

Perspective shot of the Mountainlair, the student hub for West Virginia University. The image captures the mountaineers go first mural, as well as the mirrored panels reflecting the clear sky.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has designated West Virginia University as an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University,” an accomplishment that provides opportunities for discovering new and innovative ways to measure and improve the University’s economic engagement while leveraging talents and resources. (WVU Photo)

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Reaffirming the commitment from West Virginia University to its land-grant mission, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has designated WVU as an “Innovation and Economic Prosperity University.”

WVU is one of just more than 80 higher education institutions to receive the distinction from APLU, a research, policy and advocacy organization advancing the work of public universities in North America.

University leaders said the designation will further refine and improve the University’s economic engagement and purpose as a community partner.

“I am so proud of our faculty, staff and students whose sustained and excellent work to bring needed and valued solutions to real-life problems within the pillars of education, health care, prosperity and purpose has led to this distinction among our peers,” President Gordon Gee said. “This prestigious designation underscores West Virginia University’s unique role as a leader in the state and region and across the country.”

Melanie Page, associate vice president for creative and scholarly activities in the WVU Research Office, said the designation will help the University strengthen its long-term strategy and practices to maximize impact on innovation and economic prosperity across West Virginia and beyond its borders.

"WVU faculty, staff and students are incredibly committed to making sure everyone in West Virginia can prosper and achieve success,” said Page, who co-led the WVU effort and application process with Extension Dean Jorge Atiles. “The IEP designation is acknowledgement from our peers that we are headed in the right direction. Through this process, we learned of so many great partnerships and projects that too many people don't know about, so we want to do a better job of letting our state know what we do and how to work with us.”

Among some of these partnerships and projects highlighted in the WVU report to APLU are:

     ·      WVU Extension,

     ·      a collaboration with the Coalfield Development Corporation as part of the “Build Back Better Regional Challenge,”

     ·      the Center for Excellence in STEM Education,

     ·      the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative,

     ·      the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute,

     ·      the Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative,

     ·      the Innovation Corporation

     ·      and West Virginia Brownfields.

“The IEP designation is a great achievement not only because of the designation itself, but also because the application process allowed us to take a deep look inside our University and realize how much we do individually and collectively to innovate and advance economic prosperity for our state,” Atiles said. “As a land-grant university, this is a clear recognition of our past, current and future commitment to community and economic engagement.”

APLU announced the news after an independent panel reviewed the WVU application, a rigorous self-assessment of its work around innovation, community development and economic engagement that began in early 2022. The process also involved internal and external stakeholder input.

Scoring was based on a range of criteria analyzing the University’s development of its economic engagement enterprise, planning efforts around economic engagement, strategic communications around those efforts and participation among peer institutions.

“Economic development is a major pillar of universities’ work,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “From talent development to pathbreaking research to entrepreneurship and beyond, institutions have a central role to play in economic development. We’re pleased to recognize West Virginia University for its commitment to engaging its community around these issues to advance regional economic development.”

WVU cited its $1.4 billion economic impact on West Virginia as a highlight of its outreach and influence. In addition, the University underscored its global reach, with faculty conducting research and teaching in 76 countries across six continents.

“This cross-cultural sharing of ideas, technology and innovation allows for advancement in fields such as health care, engineering, agriculture and sustainable development,” the WVU report to APLU stated.

The new designation will create opportunities for discovering new and innovative ways to measure and improve the University’s economic engagement, according to Atiles and Page, while leveraging talents and resources to create a better future for West Virginia and the world.



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