WJU to Recognize Two Community Leaders With New Award
Two Wheeling area community leaders will be the first recipients of the Communitas Award given by Wheeling Jesuit University at its Graduation Banquet Thursday, May 16.
Each year during commencement ceremonies, Wheeling Jesuit honors members of the graduating class, alumni and community members for their service and contributions. This year, WJU has chosen Regional Economic Development Partnership (RED) Executive Director Don Rigby and Brad Blair, market president, JP Morgan Chase, who serves as president and chairman of the RED board of directors, to receive the Communitas Award.
“The University designed this award as a way to recognize community members who exemplify WJU’s mission of life, leadership and service,” said WJU President Richard Beyer. “Both Don and Brad lead visionary community initiatives through their involvement in RED,” he added.
“RED’s support of the University’s plan to move its physical therapy program to the Stone Center and the establishment of a free physical therapy clinic to aid the underserved residents of Wheeling, epitomizes the award’s intentions. Wheeling Jesuit sees both Don and Brad as role models for our students. They personify the very spirit of community,” said Rev. Jim Fleming, S.J., executive vice president.
Since joining RED in 1999, Rigby has assisted more than 100 companies to expand in or relocate to West Virginia. Through his efforts, RED is now the largest economic development organization in the state of West Virginia.
Blair, a 1987 graduate of Wheeling Jesuit’s MBA program, has worked hand-in-hand with Rigby and RED to attract business development to the Wheeling area. He too played an instrumental role in helping the University relocate its physical therapy program to downtown Wheeling.
In addition to the Communitas Award, the University will recognize undergraduate and graduate students for their work in the classroom and for their service. More than 50 academic medals, student life and departmental awards will be handed out at the Graduation Banquet.
On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., Wheeling Jesuit will hold its 55th Commencement and will confer 385 degrees. Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries will deliver the address and local businessman Mike Ferns, owner of A&B Auto, will receive an honorary degree.
About Wheeling Jesuit University
Established in 1954, Wheeling Jesuit University consistently is ranked as one of America’s top regional colleges by US News & World Report and other organizations. It is the youngest Jesuit institution of higher learning in the United States and the only Catholic institution of higher learning in West Virginia. Its Jesuit tradition of academic excellence and service to others draws a global student body of 1,580 undergraduate and graduate students from 28 states and more than 25 countries.