U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., announced Wednesday that funds he added to federal appropriations legislation are on the way to Morgantown for West Virginia University’s Forensic Identification Program.

“The security experts of tomorrow are being cultivated in West Virginia today. The events of September 11, 2001, and the ongoing war on terrorism have bolstered the need for highly trained forensic specialists and made WVU forensic program graduates a hot commodity in today’s tough job market,”Byrd said.

Byrd added the $4 million for WVU ’s Forensic Identification Program in the Fiscal Year 2002 Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Bill. WVU became the first university to offer its specialized undergraduate degree when it signed an agreement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg in 1997.

The Forensic Program has grown significantly since its inception, attracting students from throughout the nation.

“With my support, the university’s forensic program is developing the personnel resources and research capacity to support the soaring student interest and industry demand. Today, forensic science is opening new doors for investigators and providing important evidence in thousands of cases,”Byrd said.

Employment opportunities for WVU ’s forensic graduates are expanding rapidly. Currently, all students with a biometrics specialty are employed in West Virginia by biometric companies and sub-contractors for the Biometric Fusion Center. Students with a forensics specialty support law enforcement and homeland defense efforts throughout the mid-Atlantic region in federal agencies including the Secret Service and the State Department.

“These WVU graduates possess real world knowledge and training which helps to kickstart successful careers and to protect the nation from crime and terrorist attack. West Virginia is proud of the WVU Forensics Program which is a shining star of academic excellence,”Byrd said.