The director of the West Virginia University Entrepreneurship Center has been named to an endowed position in the WVU College of Business and Economics.

Russell Sobel will begin his three-year appointment as the James Clark Coffman Distinguished Chair in Entrepreneurial Studies on Aug. 16. He will step down from the Entrepreneurship Center directors position he has held since 2002.

In his new position, Sobel will focus on research, education and service that promote entrepreneurial studies.

The position was created through a $1 million endowment to the college from James Clark Coffman and his family. Coffman, a 1943 WVU graduate, became a defense equipment supply agent after he was wounded in World War II.

The WVU Entrepreneurship Center was established in 2001. Since then, it has sponsored annual student business plan competitions, co-sponsored entrepreneurial forums across West Virginia, supported the WVU Research Corps. Business Incubator, provided internship programs and created an academic minor in entrepreneurship.

The Coffman Chair will assist in the centers growth through creation of a research program. As part of his appointment, Sobel will serve as the senior research associate in the Entrepreneurship Center through academic research and planning the centers research direction.

Dr. Sobel is a smart choice because of his strong background in this area of research,former Dean Jay Coats said.His contributions will be critical in strengthening the research component of the Entrepreneurship Center.

Sobel began teaching economics at WVU in 1994 and is faculty adviser for Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity. He earned a bachelors degree in economics from Francis Marion College and a masters degree and doctorate in economics from Florida State University.

His research has appeared in more than a dozen journals, and he has co-authored two books.

He is the recipient of the 1996 Atlantic Economic Journal Best Article of the Year Award, the 1998 College of Business and Economics Award for Outstanding Research, and several outstanding teaching awards. Each summer, he presents lectures for various foundations on the principles of economics.