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AEP Foundation Gift Fuels WLU Distance Learning Project

WEST LIBERTY – The American Electric Power Foundation recently offered a super-sized helping hand to West Liberty University’s goal of enhancing distance learning at the university.

AEP Foundation presented the WLU Foundation with a $25,000 donation to assist in West Liberty’s distance learning project. Angie Zambito-Hill, the WLU Foundation’s executive director, said the project will greatly advance the university’s ability to provide distance learning opportunities for students, as well as help the university recruit faculty from a larger talent pool.

Improving distance learning already had been a priority for the university when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States and forced universities, among so many other aspects of society, to revise their gameplans.

“The American Electric Power Foundation is happy to support the West Liberty University Foundation, and excited to be a part of this important project that supports higher education in the Mountain State,” said Chris Beam, president and COO of Appalachian Power, an AEP company.

Joe Rodella, the university’s chief information officer, said the long-term goal of the project is to create five distance learning classrooms in multiple academic areas. The initial priority will be to create a distance learning classroom in Campbell Hall to be used by the physician assistant program and other health sciences programs.

Rodella said the build out will include new projectors, audio reinforcements, video conferencing, TV monitors, a microscope that projects a screen, and more.

“This particular distance learning enhancement has two big positives because it not only reaches out to students at a distance, but allows WLU to attract professors who will be able to teach medical specialties from another site. It strengthens the PA program in a big way,” Rodella said.

The new platform will allow WLU to deliver more sophisticated online courses. That’s an immediate need due to the pandemic, as the university wants to offer as many online and hybrid options as possible to accommodate social distancing.

The university hopes to complete the first new classroom by spring 2021 and is currently seeking additional funds to match the AEP Foundation’s donation. The complete budget for the first new classroom is approximately $50,000.

Those interested in donating or learning more about the project can call Zambito-Hill at 304-336-5635.

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