A moving ceremony was held Aug. 28 on the lawn of the new Life Sciences Building on West Virginia Universitys downtown campus to dedicate a scarlet oak tree in memory of Sophie Nellis. Mark Walbridge, Chair of the Department of Biology, spoke about the decision to honor the mother of WVU s Eberly College dean, M. Duane Nellis.

The Biology Department wanted to dedicate the tree and monument to Sophie Nellis because of the way Dean Nellis balanced the loss of his mother, the tragedy of September 11, 2001, and the continuing oversight of the construction of the Life Sciences Building in order for the new science facility to open on time. Nellis stated,”I was very touched by this gesture on the part of the Department of Biology faculty, staff and students. My mother, whose career was in nursing, would have been pleased that this tree is next to the Life Sciences Building which houses a department that prepares a large number of pre-health science students.”

Dr. Walbridge also took the opportunity to recognize a few individuals who played key roles in making the new Life Sciences Building a reality. Recognized were: Chris Tarabrella for contributing numerous details to memory about the new building, coordinating the move into the new building, and by finding solutions to problems before they developed; Russ Dean for aggressively working with the builders, architects, and the Deans Office to get things done and keep things on schedule; and Dean Nellis for supporting the construction of the new building in a variety of way. Also recognized was Provost Gerald Lang, a professor of Biology who as a faculty member was exemplary in bringing in grants resources to support his research as a faculty member. Support from Provost Langs office helped to make the Life Sciences Building a reality. The Department of Biology has also announced that they will plant trees on the Life Sciences sight to recognize the help of Dean Nellis and Provost Lang.

The purchase of the trees used in this dedication was made possible through contributions from Biology faculty and staff.