The new West Virginia University art museum, to be located adjacent to the Creative Arts Center , will have a sculpture garden and courtyard area, thanks to the generosity of WVU genetics professor Joginder Nath , who recently donated a substantial gift to fund the project.

The museum will incorporate the former Erickson Alumni Center and include a new building addition. Planning for construction is scheduled to begin in 2009.

The Joginder Nath Sculpture Garden and Courtyard will feature two distinct outdoor exhibit areas on two sides of the museum.

We are thrilled that Professor Nath has chosen to make such a wonderful contribution to WVU s new art museum,said Dean Bernie Schultz of the College of Creative Arts .Jo continues to exemplify through his professional career the very best of who we are as a University, and his profound love of the arts will soon allow generations of students and the public alike to engage works of art in a relaxed and comfortable outdoor setting.

Jos exceedingly generous and most thoughtful gift truly will advance the cultural life of the University, our Morgantown community and region,Schultz added.

I really love art,Nath said.When I travel, I try to go to museums. We have seen a lot of the international museums, as well as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Also, my children have benefited enormously from the Creative Arts Center,he added.They took piano lessons and other music lessons from faculty of this college and gave recitals. My oldest son had a band when he was in high school and they used to play at football games.

Naths son, Pravene, is now a physician and recently accepted a position as chief medical information officer at Stanford University after serving in the same position at New York University. His other son, Brian, is a graduate of Fordham University and an attorney at WVU . His wife, Charlotte, is on the faculty of the WVU School of Medicine .

I have been interested in art most of my life, and we have enjoyed all sorts of performances at the CAC for the past 40 years,Joginder Nath said.For all these reasons, my natural innate interest being in art, and in visual arts especially, I wanted to do this.

One of the planned sculpture courts will be a formal terrace surrounded by a low wall and landscaped plantings, directly north of the former Erickson Center. It will have the feel of a European courtyard and will be well suited for the display of smaller sculptural works. It will also be used as an outdoor seating area for a café and as a space for events taking place in the large multipurpose room nearby.

A waterfall sculpture and Zen garden are being considered as part of the courtyard complex.

West of the formal terrace and directly in front of the new lobby and galleries will be a large, paved forecourt. This area will be ideal for the display of larger sculptural pieces.

A low stone wall will extend along the northern boundary of both outdoor areas and provide an architectural edge to define the entry approach.

Nath is professor of genetics and chairman of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Program at WVU . He has bachelors and masters degrees from Panjab University in India and a doctorate in genetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

He has won many awards for his research and teaching, including the Hollaender Award from the Environmental Mutagen Society in 1997 for research in genetics and genetic toxicology, as well asfor his lifelong dedication to the inspiration, education and guidance of students from around the world.

He has also been presented with the Outstanding Researcher Award and an Outstanding Teacher Award from WVU s Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences , and the Environmental Mutagen Society Education Award in 2000.

In 2002, his alma mater, Panjab University, presented him with the P.N. Mehra Memorial Award for an outstanding career in human genetics, toxicology and chemical tumor cytogenetics.

The College of Creative Arts has committed to raise $9 million for the art museum project, which will serve both the community and the region.

The museum will contain about 5,300 square feet of exhibition space, including gallery space for the WVU art collection and changing exhibitions. It may also house WVU s Rare Books Collection. There will also be museum offices, conference and education rooms, a lecture/performance hall, lounge, café and museum shop.

Schultz said the presence of a museum will allow students and visitors to engage in visual literacy, develop personal relationships with art and understand cultural and historical perspectives with the world. Outreach and community projects will enrich the quality of education for students in kindergarten through grade 12 and will foster appreciation of the arts for future generations of students and local residents.

Having an accredited museum linked to WVU will facilitate the creation of courses in museum studies and internships in related disciplines,he said.This will enhance the current curriculum and open new opportunities for our students.

The former Erickson Alumni Center building, completed in 1986, was an early work for postmodernist architect Michael Graves, who also designed the OReilly Theater in Pittsburghs Cultural District and the Walt Disney World Dolphin and Swan hotels in Orlando.

Smith Group, the architectural firm selected for the WVU art museum project, was founded in 1853 and has an internationally acknowledged reputation for design and engineering excellence. The firm has designed museums, arts centers and educational buildings in the United States and abroad, including the Normandy American Cemetery Visitor Center in France, which has garnered much acclaim.

The sculpture garden gift is being made through the WVU Foundation , a private nonprofit corporation that generates and provides support for WVU .