West Liberty Renames Biz School

WEST LIBERTY – West Liberty University has renamed its business school in honor of alumnus and long-time benefactor Gary E. West.

The university’s Board of Governors acted Wednesday to honor West, whose most recent gift is a $1.5 million contribution to be distributed in three equal installments over the next three years to the College of Business. As a result, the board voted to rename the school the Gary E. West College of Business.

West’s record of significant donations to the university and other philanthropic acts, combined with his efforts to secure the university’s future by providing for more funding from his holdings, prompted university officials to petition the Board of Governors to approve changing the name. At its meeting Wednesday evening, the board approved the measure. The name change became official at that point.

University President Robin C. Capehart thanked West for his longstanding support.

“Gary West’s commitment to West Liberty University is immeasurable. Gary’s gifts, past and present, in addition to the future provisions he has made to his alma mater, continue to make a deep and lasting impact,” Capehart said.

“These have been challenging times economically for institutions of higher education. To have an individual like Gary West come forward and provide the resources necessary to elevate the quality of education that we provide for our students at West Liberty University is obviously something that is greatly appreciated and very much needed,” Capehart added.

West sees his contributions as an investment in the future.

“About two and a half years ago, the president shared some enrollment information with me, and some of his concerns. He told me about his vision of trying to make West Liberty the best business school in West Virginia. I share his vision. He convinced me to help out and make the vision a reality,” West said.

Loren Wenzel, dean of the Gary E. West College of Business, believes the students are the real winners.

“This is life-changing for us,” Wenzel said. “This will positively impact our ability to create 21st century programs and will provide the ability to continually enhance the quality of our faculty. Students entering the Gary E. West College of Business will benefit greatly from the overwhelming generosity Mr. West has shown to the College of Business and to West Liberty University.”

West graduated from West Liberty with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1958. The Wheeling native bought Valley Welding Supply Company and grew that single shop into a business known as Valley National Gases Inc. with 55 locations in 10 states and annual sales in excess of $85 million. Information released when he was inducted into the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame indicates Valley National Gases went public in 1997 and that its annual sales now exceed $220 million, with 84 locations in 16 states.

West is also president of several other firms. He has been named West Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year, is a member of Who’s Who in West Virginia Business and was inducted into the West Liberty State College’s Alumni Wall of Honor in 1993.

West and his wife, Flip, now live in Naples, Fla.