An anonymous gift has enabled West Virginia University to create the Barbara Alvis International Student Emergency Fund to assist international students who encounter an unforeseen financial emergency or catastrophic event that could prevent them from continuing their education or otherwise affect their success.

The Fund will provide immediate financial assistance to currently enrolled WVU international students who are unable to meet immediate, essential expenses such as books, temporary housing, medical, travel and other unforeseen, non-tuition-related needs.

“One of the things I appreciate the most about our community is the way we care for each other,” President Gordon Gee said. “This anonymous gift is an excellent demonstration of Mountaineers reaching out to help others, with no desire to receive credit or recognition.”

The Fund is named for Barbara Alvis, who served as assistant dean of student life for international students from 1972-1988.

“The Office of International Students and Scholars is honored to serve the international students at West Virginia University and is thankful for the diverse and global perspectives that they bring to campus,” said Director Michael Wilhelm. “We are incredibly grateful for the gift that has created the Barbara Alvis International Student Emergency Fund, as it will provide an opportunity for international students to reach out for financial assistance when they find themselves in a time of great need.”

Alvis initiated and implemented the International Dinner and International Week, which continue to be prominent WVU events. Alvis received her bachelor’s degree in English education and a master’s degree in speech at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Barbara was a wonderful mentor, colleague, friend and advocate,” said Tom Sloane, executive director of international outreach in the Division of Student Life. “She is the recipient of many awards, but her most cherished award was from her students who recognized her as the ‘outstanding international mom’ before she retired in 1988. Alumni all over the world still ask me how is Miss Barbara?”

Alvis has two children, Vance Jr. and Robert. Her late husband, Dr. Vance Q. Alvis, was a professor of international economics at WVU.

Any international student enrolled at WVU who encounters an emergency is eligible to apply for assistance. Students seeking assistance can contact the WVU Office of International Students and Scholars at or 304-293-3519.

The gift establishing the fund was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.



CONTACT: Michael Wilhelm; WVU Office of International Students and Scholars

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