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WVU Parkersburg celebrates 50 years with campus events

By Davin White
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The campus of West Virginia University at Parkersburg is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week with several events, including a reception Thursday for alumni, a 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday and a special convocation ceremony Saturday. "For the past 50 years, our institution has educated thousands of individuals -- providing the knowledge and experience needed to be successful in the workplace," WVU-Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage said in a statement. "We hope to see alumni, retirees and members of the Mid-Ohio Valley community come out and celebrate with us."At 5:30 p.m. Thursday, WVU-Parkersburg alumni are invited to visit with former instructors and classmates and enjoy hors d'oeuvres in the college's student lounge. At 7 p.m., the music group The Profs will perform in the college theatre. The group includes former WVU-Parkersburg professors George Lamb, Gene Barry and Roger Allen.The 50th Anniversary Gala will begin Friday at 7 p.m. in the college activities center, which will be transformed into a garden party to celebrate the theme "strong roots, flowering future." Tickets are $75 per person and include a sit-down dinner and entertainment by the Tim Courts Band. To order tickets, call 304-424-8200.At 10 a.m. Saturday, a special convocation in the college activities center will commemorate the school's 50 years. College faculty, staff, retirees and the community are invited to participate."We've actually been celebrating our 50th anniversary all year," said Katie Wootton, director of marketing and communications for WVU Parkersburg.
This week, however, marks the first week of classes at the school in 1961.  The Parkersburg branch of WVU opened in September 1961 with 104 students. It began in an abandoned elementary school on Emerson Avenue. It became Parkersburg Community College in 1971 and was re-designated WVU Parkersburg in 1989. The school, which offers associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees, has grown to become the fourth largest public college in West Virginia with more than 4,500 students. "We've had a great turnout so far this week," Wootton said. "We're looking forward to celebrating with alumni, retirees and faculty for the rest of the events we have this week."Several retirees, who had been at the school when it opened, already attended a luncheon this week, she said. Two former presidents of WVU Parkersburg, Erik Bitterbaum and Eldon Miller, also plan to attend the gala on Friday and Saturday's convocation, she said. At the convocation, Wootton expects the majority of faculty to dress in their regalia, and the college will recognize some honorary degree recipients. Reach Davin White at or 304-348-1254.
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