Longtime student advocate Horace Belmear has won West Virginia Universitys annual Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.

WVU s Center for Black Culture and Research presented Belmear with the honor at its Unity Breakfast today (Jan. 19), the day the nation commemorates the life of King.

The achievement award is given to a West Virginia resident who is working to fulfill the commitment of the civil rights leader and has made a substantial contribution in the advancement of such concerns as civil rights, humanitarianism, social action and advocacy.

Belmear earned a masters degree in physical education from WVU in 1951.

After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he taught social studies and physical education at Dunbar High School in Fairmont for 18 years. While at Dunbar, he coached football, basketball, track and baseball.

In 1971, Belmear came to WVU as director of foreign student admissions. In seven years, he tripled the number of international students and countries represented at WVU .

In 1979, he was named assistant dean of admissions and records. The following year, Belmear took on formal responsibility for the recruitment and retention of black students at WVU , which became his full-time role until his retirement in 1993.

Belmear has dedicated a substantial portion of his professional career to mentoring generations of WVU students, said Dana Brooks, dean of the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences and keynote speaker at Mondays breakfast.

I can think of no individual more deserving of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award than Mr. Horace Belmear,Brooks said.He lives Dr. Kings dream by advocating and promoting social justice, fairness and compassion toward all individuals. It is important to note Mr. Belmear and his wife, Geraldine, were instrumental initially in recruiting and retaining minority and international students on the WVU campus.

The term �€~in loco parentiscomes to summarize the relationship Mr. Belmear hadand continues to havewith students he worked with,Brooks added.He is, in fact, a West Virginia treasure.

Together, the Belmears created an annual welcome reception for incoming minority freshmen; the event is now named in their honor. Mrs. Belmear passed away in 2005.

Mr. Belmear is considered a pioneer and advocate for students of color, WVU employee Robyn Wade noted in a nomination letter.He began his teaching career in 1946, almost a decade before Brown v. Board, at Dunbar High School in an all-black school in Fairmont. His desire to present all people an opportunity to receive an education embodies Dr. Kings dream. Dr. King once said, �€~Intelligence plus characterthat is the goal of true education.

In recognition of a stellar high school coaching career and service to both WVU and the state, Belmear has received numerous awards. He was inducted into the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Hall of Fame, the West Virginia All-Black Sports and Academic Hall of Fame and the WVU Student Affairs Hall of Fame.

His expertise in the area of student retention in higher education has been highlighted in many publications, and he received the Distinguished West Virginian Award.

Belmear continues to serve his beloved university. He is on the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Visiting Committee and works in the Office of Student Affairs on a voluntary basis.

The Center for Black Culture and Research also presented WVU student Marvina Walker, a junior exercise physiology major from Beckley, with this years Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship during the Unity Breakfast.

The scholarship is given to an outstanding WVU student who shares Kings ideals and is advancing his mission.

The award presentation was one of several local events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.

On Thursday (Jan. 15), more than 100 people attended a talk by NAACP chairman Julian Bond at Morgantowns St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. (Video highlights available at http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/7420/ )