In recognition of their many years of service and support of West Virginia University, Gene Budig, James Fagan and Carolyn Zinn will be inducted into the Order of Vandalia during the WVU Alumni Association luncheon on May 15.
The Order of Vandalia is the highest honor for extraordinary service to the University. It was instituted by the WVU Board of Governors as a way to recognize those who have given outstanding and distinguished support over many years to WVU.
Dr. Gene A. Budig
Gene Budig is a true believer in the power of education, spending decades leading major institutions of higher learning. He is the author of numerous books and articles, and has worked with leaders across the country to strengthen community colleges – institutions in which he firmly believes.
He earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a doctorate in 1967, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He went on to become faculty at UN and served as chief of staff for Nebraska Governor Frank Morrison until 1972.
In 1973, at the age of 34, Budig was named president of Illinois State University. He would serve in that role until 1977 when he became president of West Virginia University. In 1980, he left Morgantown to become chancellor of the University of Kansas, where he served until 1994.
In addition to his meteoric academic career, he swiftly moved up the ranks of the Air National Guard, becoming Adjunct General in 1978 and earning the rank of Major General before his retirement in 1992.
Budig left academia in 1994 to become president of Major League Baseball’s American League, serving until 1999 when the position was dissolved.
He currently serves as a distinguished professor and senior presidential advisor for the College Board.
Budig is also part owner of the Charleston (SC) River Dogs, a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Since leaving WVU, Budig has continued to provide extensive public and private support to the University. Always interested in the well-being of the University, he has kindly given advice and encouragement to all WVU presidents that followed his tenure. In addition, he took on the task of chairing the 2009 presidential search committee and was influential in C. Peter Magrath’s decision to lead WVU on an interim basis during that time.
Budig has also been a generous major gift donor to WVU, supporting the Susan Hardesty Annual Scholarship, the Budig Excellence in Teaching Award and the Harless Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching.
James (Jim) J. Fagan
A native of Windber, PA, James J. Fagan entered WVU in 1962 as a student athlete on the Mountaineer football team. Illness forced him to discontinue participating in football in 1964, and he decided to concentrate on his theatrical career.
In addition to his success on the WVU stage, he was active on campus as president of Kappa Alpha fraternity, member of Mountain and advanced Army ROTC. Upon graduation in 1967, Fagan served his country as a U.S. Army officer from 1967-1969.
In 1969 Fagan returned to WVU for graduate school. After significant work towards a master’s degree in theater, he left Morgantown for New York City to pursue a career in musical theater. He eventually found his niche as an on-camera and voiceover performer in television and radio commercials and other broadcast productions.
For more than 35 years, this has proven to be an exciting and successful career.
Fagan was the voice of NBC Sports promotions for more than a decade, and has been a narrator for the NBA, MLB Productions and the PGA Tour Network. In 2010, he was the in-arena host for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.
He has performed in countless commercials as on-camera spokesman for Chrysler, the American Gas Association and U.S. Steel. He has also performed as a voiceover artist for GEICO, Office Depot, Alka Seltzer and Canon, to name but a few.
Despite such high profile professional work, Fagan has unselfishly given back to his alma mater over the years, becoming the signature voice of Metro News Radio and the Mountaineer Sports Network. He has also written and narrated dozens of WVU recruiting commercials and videos to assist in the University’s marketing and fundraising efforts, including the 2001 Capital Campaign and 2005 Alumni Center Campaign films.
A 1995 inductee of the WVU Academy of Distinguished Alumni, he is one of the founders of New York-New Jersey Metro Chapter of the WVU Alumni Association.
Fagan served on the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors for six years and was Chairman of the Board from 2004- 2005, leading the effort to fund and build The Erickson Alumni Center.
Dr. Carolyn June Zinn
Dr. Zinn is the ultimate public servant, a dedicated and tireless giver of time and self – the true embodiment of the spirit of West Virginia and WVU.
Zinn earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from WVU in 1955. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the Free University of Brussels, and, upon her return, began a graduate program in political science at the University.
After graduating with a master’s degree from WVU, she moved to San Francisco and spent several years working in publishing. She returned to Morgantown in 1964 to continue her education, graduating from WVU with a doctorate of political science in 1967.
She went on to serve as associate professor of political science at Elon College, visiting professor of political science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and associate professor of political science at Penn State-Fayette.
In 1970, Zinn was named director of the West Virginia Department of Archives and History, serving until she left to chair the department of political science at Arkansas State University in 1973. After nine years in that post, she was appointed academic dean and professor of political science at Shepherd College. After just one year, Zinn returned to Morgantown and WVU in 1984 to serve in a series of academic jobs, including interim assistant dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, assistant, then associate, director of Admission Services and coordinator of the WVU Scholars Program, until her retirement from the University in 1996.
During her time at WVU, Zinn was instrumental in reshaping the advising center from a confusing and ineffective service into a resource that successfully served the needs of both students and faculty. She also bolstered the success of the WVU Scholars Program, ensuring the University’s capability in attracting the best and brightest students.
Her dedication to WVU has only grown over the years. Zinn serves on the Committee of Retired Faculty Governing Board, a standing committee of the WVU Faculty Senate, as well as on the WVU Alumni Emeritus Club Board of Directors.
In addition, she continues to serve the larger community through organizations including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
The new Vandalians will be presented for membership by the individuals who nominated them, with Susan Hardesty presenting Gene Budig, Alfred Ware presenting James Fagan and Sophia Blaydes presenting Carolyn Zinn.
Dr. Budig will give the response for the new members. Vaughn Kiger and WVU President James Clements will also speak to those assembled.
CONTACT: WVU News & Information Services
Follow @wvutoday on Twitter