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Esposito gift enriches student learning via WVU Honors College Faculty Fellows program

The four members of the Esposito family are shown outside with a tree and shrubbery behind them.

A gift to WVU from alumni Patrick R. Esposito II (left) and Michelle L. Varga Esposito (second from right) supports the University's Honors College Faculty Fellows program. The couple is pictured with daughters Natalie (from left) and Elizabeth. (Submitted Photo)

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High-achieving students at West Virginia University will benefit from a fund established by an alumni couple to support the delivery of innovative courses that enrich the undergraduate curriculum via the WVU Honors College Faculty Fellows program.

The multi-year gift from Michelle L. Varga Esposito and Patrick R. Esposito II, of Morgantown, provides annual support for the next decade, specifically targeting Faculty Fellows activities geared toward courses in neuroscience, psychology, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, other life sciences, economics, mathematics, physics or engineering.

“With this generous gift, the Honors College can continue to support the dedicated faculty who provide our students with new and engaging special topics courses each academic year,” Ken Blemings, dean of the WVU Honors College, said. “We’re grateful to Patrick and Michelle for their investment in opportunities that benefit our students and the Faculty Fellows program.”

The couple’s gift was made in conjunction with WVU Day of Giving, a 24-hour effort organized by the WVU Foundation to support the University’s greatest needs. This year’s fundraising event, held March 20, raised $30.4 million from more than 8,500 gifts.

For Patrick, the gift fulfills a promise he made as a graduate of the Honors program — the predecessor to the Honors College — and recipient of the WVU Foundation Scholarship — the University’s highest academic scholarship — to give back to future students. He said his experience as an Honors student put him on a path that led him to return to West Virginia to create technology and knowledge-based jobs.

The WVU Honors College provides a platform for talented and motivated students to continue their preparation to become leaders in their fields, industries, and communities in West Virginia and throughout the world,” he said. “The opportunity to support small class learning settings through the WVU Faculty Fellows Program, with in-depth study, analysis, writing and discussion under the guidance of deeply engaged WVU faculty members, is one of the most significant resources the Honors College provides its students.”

Patrick earned two bachelor’s degrees spanning four majors — political science, economics, history and international studies — in 1996 from WVU, where he also served as president of the Student Government Association. He then earned a master’s degree in modern history from the University of Oxford and a law degree from Georgetown University.

Esposito serves as president of ACME General Corp., a leading public-sector innovation business. He has more than 20 years of experience helping found, lead and advise businesses in technology, consulting, retail, banking, real estate and other industries, as well as U.S. government organizations, in a variety of roles. He recently published his first book, “The Structure of Success: A Framework to Help Build Your Business Better.”

Michelle decided to enroll at the WVU College of Law after earning her undergraduate degree from Smith College and spending 15 years in the technology industry. She received her law degree from WVU in 2016. Aside from their educational experiences, she noted their family — including daughters Elizabeth and Natalie — enjoys being part of the WVU community through the High School ACCESS Early College Program and WVU Athletics events. Over the years, their family has also enjoyed many opportunities provided for children through the Nursery School, Soccer Camp for Girls, Engineering Challenge Camps and more.

The Honors College Faculty Fellows program encourages full-time faculty on the Morgantown Campus to competitively develop and deliver innovative and engaging courses to students in the Honors Foundations program. During the year-long fellowship, participating faculty are expected to teach one or two sections of their proposed course, deliver a public lecture based on the course material and serve on a committee that selects the next cohort of fellows.

The Esposito gift focuses on areas of study they find intriguing that set WVU apart and offer promising opportunities for WVU Honors College students to make a positive impact on society. If private support is not needed for the Faculty Fellows program in a given year during the next decade, the fund may be applied to support experiential learning activities for Honors College students in the same fields, as well as foreign languages, with an emphasis on academic research and study abroad activities.

“Ultimately, we hope these resources benefit many WVU Honors students in their learning journey,” Michelle said.

The couple’s gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.



Senior Communications Specialist
WVU Foundation

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