The parents of West Virginia University First Lady Beth Clements have created an endowment through the College of Human Resources and Education to support scientific research in the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology.

Clifton and Priscilla Smith have donated $25,000 to establish the Grace Clements Speech Pathology and Audiology Research Endowment. Grace, the daughter of WVU President and First Lady Jim and Beth Clements and the Smith’s granddaughter, has a condition known as apraxia, a neurological speech disorder.

“We have been significantly blessed in our lifetime and feel a responsibility to share those blessings to help make others’ lives better,” the Smiths said. “Grace is one of our richest blessings. In spite of her challenges, and maybe because of them, she has brought much love and joy into the lives of many people including ourselves.

“It is our strong hope that Grace and many others like her throughout our country and the world will be able to live richer and fuller lives as a result of the medical breakthroughs we believe will come through research in speech and audiology at West Virginia University.”

The endowment will advance biological, biotechnological and biomedical sciences.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with this generous gift to our department,” said Robert Orlikoff, chair of the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. “Although our faculty have long been respected for their scientific research and scholarship, they have not had the benefit of a charitable fund such as the Grace Clements Speech Pathology and Audiology Research Endowment to support those efforts.

“Now, as our research initiatives expand in preparation for a new research-based Ph.D. program, this bequest couldn’t have been more opportune,” Orlikoff added. “I can only express a heartfelt thank you on behalf of our faculty, students, the patients we serve and the discipline of communication sciences and disorders.”

The Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology provides professional services to the public through campus clinics. The WVU Speech Center offers a wide variety of speech-language pathology services to children and adults, and the WVU Hearing Center is equipped to provide complete diagnostic and rehabilitative audiology services. Fully staffed by professional supervisors, these clinical facilities help meet the health care needs of the community, while supporting the professional education of the department’s graduate students.

Mrs. Clements has established a relationship with WVU’s Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology and has been a guest speaker there on several occasions. In addition, Grace has benefitted from participation in several programs in the Morgantown community.

The gift is expected to qualify for matching funds through the West Virginia Research Trust Fund. The state created the Research Trust Fund in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $50 million ($35 million for WVU, $15 million for Marshall) to leverage public and private investments that will help transform West Virginia’s economy. WVU is able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support expansions to faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, health care and job growth. Those areas include energy, nanotechnology, biosciences and biometrics. To date, private gifts/pledges coupled with the match total over $16 million.

The donation setting up the research endowment was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.



CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation

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