A long-time West Virginia University faculty member who helped initiate and lead the Universitys unique Forensic Identification Program is leaving WVU to take a position with the National Biometrics Security Project, University officials announced today (March 17).

Michael T. Yura came to WVU in 1971 as an assistant professor of counseling psychology and taught in the department until 1998 when he accepted leadership of the newly established Forensic Identification Program, developed in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“We regret that Michael Yura is leaving WVU ,”said President David C. Hardesty Jr.”He deserves much of the credit for developing the first-of-its-kind degree program in forensic identification at WVU that now has become the model for similar programs worldwide. WVU will be working on a transition plan to continue the great strides we have made under Michaels leadership. We are glad he will still be in the Morgantown area and look forward to working with him to further forensic and biometrics initiatives.”

Under Dr. Yuras leadership, the program has grown from four students during its first year to more than 400 students today. It has been cited by numerous national media outlets and at national and international conferences for its cutting-edge curriculum in both forensic science and biometrics systems.

“I will miss the teamwork that went into making the Forensic Identification Program at WVU what it is today,”Yura said.”WVU has some outstanding administrators and faculty whose support for the program has been outstanding.”

Yuras new title will be vice president for West Virginia operations of the National Biometrics Security Project. He will work out of the Projects office in Morgantowns Wharf District.

“Sen. Robert C. Byrd has put so much emphasis on making north central West Virginia the national hub for biometrics,”Yura said.”Im excited to be joining this initiative right here in Morgantown that will be pooling government, industry and academic resources to address national security issues within non-Defense Department agencies.”

Yura earned his bachelors degree from Mount Saint Marys College, his masters degree from TempleUniversity and a doctorate from OhioStateUniversity.

He is active in community affairs, currently serving on the Monongalia County Board of Education.

Yura is married to Cathy Yura, director of the WVUCarruthCounselingCenter, and has three children, Jonathan, Christopher and Lauren.

He will begin his new duties May 15.