More than a person who conquers mountains, Mountaineers at West Virginia University are known for their character, loyalty and generosity.

WVU will award honorary degrees to three individuals who fit the Mountaineer mold during Commencement exercises May 13-15. Each has risen to the top of their profession, held significant national leadership positions and supported the mission of WVU.

This year’s recipients, all WVU alumni, will be honored at their individual college ceremonies and speak to the graduates. They are: Thomas Menighan, from the School of Pharmacy and George B. Bennett and Henry T. Yang of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Each will receive a doctorate of science.

Menighan will address School of Pharmacy grads at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 14 at the Morgantown Event Center. Bennett and Yang will speak at the College of Engineering and Mineral Sciences commencement at 2 p.m. that same day at the Coliseum.

Menighan’s contributions as a prominent pharmacist have positively affected the U.S. health care industry.

He has been the executive vice president and CEO of the American Pharmacists Association since 2009 and is a Fellow of the American Pharmacists Association. Prior to rejoining APhA, Menighan was President of SynTegra Solutions Inc., a Maryland-based company that provides auditing and consulting services on risk management and a host of technology of medication information. Menighan founded SymRx, Inc., and developed

Throughout his career, Menighan has served volunteer roles within the profession of pharmacy, including president of APhA from 2001 to 2002 and a member of the APhA Board of Trustees between 1995 and 2003. He was a senior staff member of APhA from 1987 to 1992. While on staff as senior director of external affairs, he managed state affairs, public relations, new business development and practice management issues.

Other professional experiences include management of the PharMark Corp., creator of RationalMed, and licensed systems for states to conduct Drug Utilization Review for millions of state Medicaid enrollees. Menighan also founded and was a 20-year Medicine Shoppe owner in Huntington and is a partner in Pharmacy Associates, Inc., a multi-state specialty pharmacy that today serves patients in much of the U.S.

He received his Bachelor of Science in pharmacy in 1974 from the WVU School of Pharmacy and an MBA in 1990 from Averett College. In May 2010, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by the University of Charleston.

For the past 35 years, Dr. Bennett has been a leading visionary and entrepreneur. He has used his background in engineering and analytics to consult on national and global issues including health care and education.

Early in his career, he co-founded Bain and Co., a top tier international consulting firm, and later Braxton Associates, a boutique strategy consulting firm with a reputation for innovation and creativity. Both companies are highly regarded international strategy consulting firms that have dramatically affected Fortune 500 scale firms around the world. In 1985, he co-founded Symmetrix, a management consulting firm that specialized in helping firms translate innovative strategies into cost effective operating practices. He served as Symmetrix’s chairman and CEO from 1985 to 1996.

In 1997, Bennett co-founded Health Dialog Services Corp. The firm is a leading health care services company that is having a dramatic impact on the way health care is delivered in the United States, several European countries and Australia. Dr. Bennett served as both the CEO and chairman of the board from 1997 until January 2008 when the firm was sold to Bupa, a British-owned global provider of health care services. He currently serves as chairman of the firm’s board of directors.

In the early 1980s, Bennett spent a year in Washington as a member of the Grace Commission, a group created by President Ronald Reagan, to bring the latest business practices to the federal government. Bennett has remained active in Washington as a participant in the ongoing debate about health reform.

In 1982, he was inducted into the WVU Distinguished Alumni Academy of Industrial and Management Systems Engineering. Bennett serves on the board of directors of a number of organizations, including the Disease Management Association of America, the National Youth Science Foundation and Urban Imrov, a Boston based non-profit organization focused on improving the odds for Boston’s inner city youth.

Bennett earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from WVU in 1967 and master’s and doctoral degrees in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University in 1971.

Dr. Yang is an accomplished leader in higher education and the field of aeronautical engineering.

Since 1994 he has served as the chancellor of the University of California, Santa Barbara and was formerly the Neil A. Armstrong Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, where he also served as the dean of engineering for 10 years.

Yang has served on scientific advisory boards for various government agencies: he is current chair of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, past chair of the Association of American Universities, serves on the President’s Committee for the National Medal of Science and the Kavli Foundation board, and is chairman of the board for the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

He has authored or co-authored more than 170 articles for scientific journals and widely used textbooks on finite element structural analysis. He has also served as principal investigator or co-P.I. for 32 sponsored research grants, guided 53 Ph.D. theses, and received 13 outstanding undergraduate teaching awards. He continues to teach an undergraduate engineering course each year, and is currently supervising four Ph.D. students with support from National Science Foundation grants.

Yang is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

He has received numerous awards for his research, teaching, and service, including the Benjamin Garver Lamme gold medal from the American Society of Engineering Education and the 2008 Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He also holds honorary doctorates from Purdue University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, National Taiwan University, City University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

He received his B.S.C.E. degree from National Taiwan University, his master’s degree in structural engineering from WVU and his Ph.D. from Cornell University.

For more information on WVU Commencement, including webcast information, see:

Also, WVU’s Office of the Provost has created a new website that commemorates honorary degree recipients past and present.

Visitors to, can view the history of honorary degrees at WVU, from 1873, when the school’s first honorary degree was bestowed on Marmaduke H. Dent, to the present. This year’s recipients are included, along with links to their biographical information.

The site also includes background on the importance of significance and history of honorary degrees and guidelines for nomination.



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