Energy and environmental sciences research at West Virginia University will benefit from a $300,000 donation from Alpha Natural Resources, Inc.

The gift to the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources establishes the Alpha Natural Resources Endowment for Energy Research, and is expected to qualify for a match from the state Research Trust Fund, making the total gift $600,000.

“We value the partnership the College has with Alpha and its generous support,” said Gene Cilento, Glen Hiner Dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. “We will use this endowment to build an industry-driven research center that focuses on all aspects of energy, from extraction to utilization. The research conducted will support the safety needs of the mineral resources industries, which remain vital to our state and nation.”

Jim Dean, director of WVU’s Department of Mining and Industrial Extension, added: “Our department is grateful to the management and employees of Alpha for their support of our work. This gift will allow us to continue to conduct mine health and safety research and training that will benefit the entire industry. This work is in support of Alpha’s ‘Running Right’ philosophy, which includes integration of new mine safety technology.”

WVU’s Mining and Industrial Extension Department recently trained Alpha’s mine rescue teams at its Academy for Mine Training and Energy Technologies, in addition to other training activities conducted on-site at Alpha mines.

“A sustainable and uninterrupted energy supply is critical for promoting economic development and improving people’s qualify of life,” said Michael Peelish, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer for Alpha Natural Resources.

Peelish continued, “West Virginia University has a long tradition of technologies research in general and energy studies in particular, including its recent work in the areas of reducing power plant emissions, capturing and storing carbon dioxide in un-mineable coal seams, and liquefying coal for fueling vehicles. We are proud to help build on this strong foundation and we are hopeful that our contribution will inspire others to support the University’s important work in energy research.”

Alpha Natural Resources is one of America’s premier coal suppliers with coal production capacity of greater than 90 million tons a year. Among U.S. producers, Alpha is a leading supplier and exporter of metallurgical coal used in the steel-making process and is a major supplier of thermal coal to electric utilities and manufacturing industries across the country. The company, through its affiliates, employs approximately 6,500 people and operates approximately 60 mines and 13 coal preparation facilities in Appalachia and the Powder River Basin. More information about Alpha can be found on the company’s website at

In 2008, the state created the Research Trust Fund with an initial appropriation of $50 million ($35 million for WVU, $15 million for Marshall) to leverage public and private investments that will transform West Virginia’s economy. WVU is able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support expansions to research faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, healthcare, and job growth. To date, private and state dollars combined for WVU total over $32 million.

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the private non-profit corporation that generates, receives, and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.



CONTACT: Bill Nevin, WVU Foundation

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