The outgoing chief of West Virginia United Health System and the composer of the popular”My Home Among the Hills”will be honored during West Virginia Universitys 133rd commencement Sunday, May 19, at the Coliseum.
Bernard G. Westfall, who is retiring this year as chief executive officer of United Health System, and E.W. James Jr., a deceased Clarksburg business and civic leader who wrote the widely performed choral piece, are recipients of the 2002 Presidents Distinguished Service Award. Jameswidow, Julia, will accept his award at the ceremony, which begins at 1:30 p.m.
“These two individualsnames are synonymous with service, and their contributions to West Virginia cannot be overstated,”said WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr.”Bernard Westfall has been an advocate for health care concerns in the northern part of the state, while E.W. James Jr. composed a wealth of musicand one piece in particularthat connects West Virginians to their Appalachian roots.”
Westfall has been president and CEO of the health care network that includes WVU Hospitals in Morgantown and United Hospital Center in Clarksburg since 1996. Before that, he was president and CEO of WVU Hospitals.
He has devoted his working life to the improvement of health care delivery in north-central West Virginia and played a key role in the construction of Ruby Memorial Hospital and the development of the regional hospital system.
Westfalls career as a health administrator began in 1965, when he became associate director of purchasing at the original University Hospital. By the time the hospital was ready to grow into a new building in the 1980s, he was executive vice president. He helped guide the hospital through the untested waters of privatizing a state-owned enterprise and established a firm financial basis for independent not-for-profit management.
He was named president and CEO in 1987 and served in that post until the creation of the health system in 1996. The regional health network serves tens of thousands of patients across the northern part of the state.
Westfall has been active in state and national hospital advocacy and has chaired the board and numerous committees of the West Virginia Hospital Association since 1988. He has represented West Virginia as the delegate to the American Hospital Association for the past three years and has served as a board member of the West Virginia Hospital Financial Management Association. He is also a director of Centra Bank of Morgantown, the Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley and the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce.
Westfall is a native of Spencer and attended Spencer High School. He has bachelors and masters degrees from WVU and is a graduate of the Harvard University Executive Program on Health Policy.
James was president of the James&Law Co. in Clarksburg for many years. The bookstore business his father helped found also included a branch store in the Middletown Mall in Fairmont for a number of years.
The Clarksburg native was also active in public service in his hometown. During the 1950s, he was a proponent of changing the citys form of government from a mayoral system to one run by a city manager. He also served as the first mayor under the new charter from 1957-61.
While successful in both his business and civic pursuits, it is for his musical endeavors that James is best remembered. He was an accomplished musician and composer who attended Harvard University and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1938 with a bachelors degree in music.
His musical compositions include choral works for the Clarksburg madrigal group he directed for many years and religious anthems for his church, the First United Methodist Church of Clarksburg. His most popular work,”My Home Among the Hills,”was part of a play he helped write in 1963 in observance of West Virginias centennial. The piece is now a part of the repertoire of several choral groups across the state.
During his lifetime, he served as chairman of the Clarksburg-Harrison Arts Council and was a member of the West Virginia Arts and Humanities Commission and the Clarksburg-Harrison Cultural Foundation. He also served on the West Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees and donated many of his original compositions to the school. The West Virginia Choral Arts Foundation presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award in March 2000, three months before his death at 84.
The Presidents Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who have provided exemplary service and leadership to WVU or the state.