A U .S. senator who has helped attract business to West Virginia, a former Board of Governors chair who has made his mark on the business world, a local educator who has helped countless students and a longtime career services administrator who was one of the first women editors at West Virginia University’s campus newspaper will be inducted into WVU’s Order of Vandalia during Commencement Weekend.
The Order of Vandalia is WVU’s highest award for service to the University and state.
The 2009 honorees are Curtis H. Hank Barnette, former chairman and chief executive officer of Bethlehem Steel; Gloria Cunningham, a founder of the WVU College of Human Resources and Education Alumni Association; Eleanor C. Ellis “Ellie” Flowers, former assistant dean for career services at the WVU College of Law; and Sen. John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV, who has served the state for over 40 years.
These four individuals will be recognized for their exceptional contributions during the Commencement Honors Convocation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 15, in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre of the WVU Creative Arts Center. A special ceremony is also set for 11:30 a.m. Saturday, May 16, at the Erickson Alumni Center.
Barnette has served WVU since he was a political science student. During his college years, he was student body president, a cadet colonel in the ROTC and a member of Mountain, Sphinx, Phi Beta Kappa and Beta Theta Pi. He graduated with high honors from the University in 1956.
After graduation, Barnette studied international law as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Manchester in England. He earned a law degree from Yale Law School in 1962.
Now chairman emeritus of Bethlehem Steel Corp., Barnette worked for the company for three decades, starting as a lawyer in 1967, becoming general counsel and retiring as chairman and CEO in 2000.
In 1993, he was inducted into the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni. He has sat on numerous advisory boards for the University, including the WVU Board of Advisors. and the WVU Foundation Board of Directors, where he has served continuously since 1987, assuming the role of chairman from 1991-93.
Barnette was named chairman emeritus of the WVU Board of Governors last year, and he is currently chairing the search committee for a chancellor for WVU Health Sciences.
His government service includes work with the Counter Intelligence Corps, the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps Reserve, the Presidents Trade Advisory Committee and the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States.
Barnette and his wife, Joanne, have established scholarships at the College of Law and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, as well as a professorship in political science. They have also donated funds for the WVU Board of Governors Room in the Erickson Alumni Center.
The Barnettes live in Bethlehem, Pa., and have two sons, Kevin and James.
Cunningham is a lifelong resident of Morgantown who received her bachelors and masters degrees from WVU . She was associated with WVU for 27 years as a business education instructor at University High School and in various roles with the College of Human Resources and Education.
While at UHS , she applied for funding under the Vocational Education Act of 1963 to upgrade the instructional equipment and furnishings. As a result, University High was the first school in West Virginia to receive funding under the act.
Cunningham was one of the founders of the alumni association of the College of Human Resources and Education. In 2001, she received the special deans award for exceptional service, and she was one of the first five inductees into the colleges hall of fame in 2004.
She is a life member of the WVU Alumni Association and a member of the WVU Emeritus Club, in which she served as president in 1997. In 2001, she received the David W. Jacobs Award for service to the alumni association.
As a community volunteer, Cunningham has been on committees for the Chamber of Commerce and United Way and on the boards of Goodwill Industries Inc., the Pace Training and Evaluation Center and Sundale Nursing Home. She is currently serving on the Foundation Board of Monongalia General Hospital and is a member of the auxiliaries of both Mon General and WVU Hospitals.
Flowers received her bachelors degree in journalism with honors from WVU in 1954. During her undergraduate years, she was only the second woman to become a full-time editor at The Daily Athenaeum. She was a member of the Kappa Tau Alpha journalism honor society and Alpha Phi sorority, and she was elected Mountaineer queen in 1953.
Following graduation, she worked as a society editor for The Clarksburg Exponent from 1954-55 and a reporter for The Las Vegas Review Journal from 1955-56.
She returned to West Virginia in 1956 with her husband, Edwin Flowers, former WVU vice president and judge, to raise two daughters, Ann and Melissa, and a son, John. She became involved in a variety of community activities, including the League of Women Voters and Dunbar Home for Children, and she founded the Swaney Library Art group in New Cumberland.
From 1977-80, Flowers was a member of the staff of the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies. In 1981, she served as assistant director of community education and director of career counseling and placement at the University of Charleston.
Flowers returned to WVU in 1983 joining the College Of Law as director of the Meredith Career Services Center, where she helped thousands of students find jobs. She continued at the law school serving as an assistant dean for career services until her retirement in 2004.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller
Rockefeller first came to West Virginia as a 27-year-old AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer serving in the small mining community of Emmons. His exposure to poverty there influenced him to pursue a public service career and help improve the lives of West Virginians.
In 1966, he was elected to the state House of Delegates and to the office of secretary of state in 1968.
Rockefeller is the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; the Health Care Subcommittee on Finance; and the Aviation Subcommittee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He also serves on the Senate Committee on VeteransAffairs.
He has helped attract national and international companies to invest in the state, including a Toyota manufacturing plant in Buffalo, W.Va.
Rockefeller served as president of West Virginia Wesleyan College from 1973-76. He was elected governor of West Virginia in 1976 and was re-elected in 1980. In 1984, he was elected to the U.S. Senate and re-elected in 1990, 1996 and 2002.
In 1999, Rockefeller founded the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, a nonprofit international medical research center at WVU Hospitals, in honor of his mother who died from Alzheimers disease.
Rockefeller has been married to Sharon Percy Rockefeller since 1967. They have four children: John, Valerie, Charles and Justin.
Due to recent knee surgery, Rockefeller will be unable to attend WVU s Commencement activities.