One of West Virginia University’s most recognized graduates, Jerry West, will join two other successful individuals with WVU ties Sunday, May 14, in accepting honorary degrees during 137th Commencement ceremonies at the WVU Coliseum.
The 2006 honorees are: West, president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies, Doctor of Humane Letters; Marshall S. Miller, owner of world class engineering and design firm Marshall Miller and Associates, Doctor of Science; and Purnell W. Choppin, president emeritus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Doctor of Science.
�€?This year’s class of honorary degree recipients comes from different backgrounds and professions, and each has an important connection to WVU ,�€? said WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. �€?Jerry West, a physical education graduate, made his mark on the college and professional hardwoodsthen in the NBA board room. Marshall Miller, one of our geology graduates, rose to be a top executive in the energy industry, and Purnell Choppin, who serves on WVU ’s health sciences advisory council, distinguished himself as an international biomedical researcher and scientist. All three are most deserving of this coveted honor and also serve as important role models for this year’s graduating class.�€?
West is a 1960 graduate of the WVU School of Physical Education and serves as president of basketball operations for the Memphis Grizzlies.
A native of Cheylan , W.Va. , he led the Mountaineers to three straight NCAA berths and within two points of winning the national championship during his playing days at WVU .
The two-time All-American also set 17 school records and ended his college career with a 24.8 scoring average.
He was the Lakers’first pick in the 1960 college draft, but before joining the NBA , served as co-captain of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Rome in 1960. He also was a member of the victorious U.S. squad in the 1958 Pan American Games.
During his 14-year professional career �€all with the Lakers �€he scored 25,192 points, the third player to reach the 25,000 mark, and still the sixth highest total in NBA history.
West was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times and the All-Defensive first team four times. He was selected to play in the All-Star Game for 13 consecutive seasons and was MVP of the 1972 classic at The Forum and NBA Playoff MVP in 1969.
He was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1979 and was named to the NBA ’s 35th Anniversary Team in 1980.
After he retired as a player, West served the Lakers as head coach for several years and later as general manager. During his time as GM, the Lakers won three NBA titles while averaging better than 60 wins per season. His alma mater has honored him with induction into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni , the School of Physical Education Hall of Fame , the Athletic Department Hall of Fame �€and most recently, with the retiring of his jersey.
Marshall S. Miller
Miller is a graduate of the WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. He received a bachelor’s degree in geology in 1965 and a master’s degree in 1973.
A native of Bluefield , W.Va. , Miller is chairman and CEO of his own geological, geophysical and engineering services company, Marshall Miller and Associates Inc., which he founded in 1976. The firm is headquartered in Bluefield , Va. , and now operates 11 offices in eight states with more than 150 employees. It also has notable markets in China , South America , India , Australia and Canada .
Not only has Miller excelled in the business world, but also in academia. He has published more than 25 professional publications on a variety of topics, including a 250-page book mapping and modeling the geology of southwest Virginia . He also edited a book on coal in the Appalachians . These publications have helped Miller become recognized as one of the foremost authorities in this industry.
He has received numerous honors, including the Robert Hamilton Award for Community Service and induction into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame. He also is a member of the WVU Business Hall of Fame, and in 1998, Engineering News Record recognized his firm as one of the”Top 500 Engineering Design Firms.”
He is also the recipient of the Society of Mining Engineers Distinguished Member Award, and WVU ’s Department of Geology and Geography presented Miller with the Alumni Professional Achievement Award .
Miller was also named the Merrill Lynch and Ernst&Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine and was recognized as the Citizen of the Year by the Boy Scouts of America.
His commitment to his community remains strong. He co-founded the Bluefield Area Foundation as well as founded the Marshall Miller Foundation. He also established the Marshall Miller Energy Professorship in the WVU Department of Geology and is a member of the Eberly College of Arts&Sciences Advisory Board. Miller also serves as a board member and past president of the WVU Foundation board of directors and was a member of the national campaign committee for the Building Greatness Campaign .
Purnell W. Choppin
Choppin, an internationally respected physician and scientist, is a graduate of Louisiana State University School of Medicine, with additional training at Barnes Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis . He also served as a medical officer in the U.S. Air Force.
He is president emeritus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of his distinguished and continuing achievements related to discoveries in the field of virology. His research into the structure and replication of viruses helped advance understanding of the mechanism by which influenza and measles viruses interact with the cell membrane to cause cell injury and disease.
Under his leadership, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute became the leading private supporter of quality biomedical research to advance science, technology and medicine throughout the world.
During his career he has been the leader of several national research societies and institutes and has served on the boards of a number of leading research institutions, including the National Advisory Council of the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at WVU .
As a member of this council, Choppin has helped guide and advise WVU ’s health sciences colleges in the implementation of the Strategic Research Plan, particularly in planning the expansion of research facilities such as the Biomedical Research Building .