West Liberty University began 2013 with a new facility, courtesy of alumnus and benefactor Gary E. West. The announcement was made at a Jan. 2, 2013 press conference held at the former Roadworthy property, now known as the Gary E. West Events Center.
“Over the Christmas holidays, West Liberty University received one of the most substantial gifts in the history of the institution,” said President Robin C. Capehart. “On behalf of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, benefactors and friends, it is with a great sense of excitement and appreciation that we accept Gary’s act of kindness and dedication to his alma mater.”
The donation includes the former restaurant building and the parking lot area and represents a gift of $1.65 million. It is located at 260 Roadworthy Drive, just across W.Va. Route 88 from the main campus.
“As we examined our needs at the University, we quickly identified the fact that in last year alone, the school conducted over 100 receptions, dinners and other similar activities that hosted a considerable number of people. A great number of these events were held in venues that lacked the proper capacity, convenient parking or the ability to provide the appropriate food service. In addition, we often encountered occasions when more than one campus group wished to use a particular facility leaving other organizations without an adequate location to hold its event at the same time. “
As West Liberty University continues to grow and activities on campus continue to expand, we readily anticipate this becoming an even bigger challenge. Therefore, we have decided that the best and highest use of the property shall be to make the facility available for campus activities and, in light of the outstanding kitchen facilities that are present; the building shall be particularly conducive to those activities requiring the serving of food,” Capehart said.
In addition to use by the campus – and as a reflection of Gary’s affection for the community, in general, we shall also make the facility available to the public for use at a modest cost, subject, of course, to its availability. We would also like to announce today that the building shall be known as the “Gary E. West Events Center,” thus, both honoring our benefactor and recognizing its intended use.”
Capehart also noted that West Rentals will retain ownership of the six leased cabins and property surrounding the West Events Center and will continue to offer these cabins to the public.
“This is a wonderful day for West Liberty University and a great way to start off the New Year. The addition of the Highlands Center a few years ago, the renovation of Shaw Hall, the construction of the new Campbell Hall for health sciences and, now, the opening of the Gary E. West Events Center are great illustrations that West Liberty is continuing to move from a good college to a great university.”
A Wheeling native, West earned his business administration degree from West Liberty in 1958.
As a successful businessman, West bought Valley Welding Supply Company and grew it from a one-shop operation to a business with 55 locations in 10 states and annual sales in excess of $85 million. West’s business became the largest privately held distributor of industrial and medical gases and welding supplies in the United States, with 84 locations in 16 states and annual sales exceeding $220 million.
West is also president of West Rentals, Inc., President Plymouth Holding LLC, and GEW Real Estate, LLP, as well as president and secretary of Acetylene Products Corp. West was named West Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year, is a member of Who’s Who in West Virginia Business and was inducted into the West Liberty State College’s Alumni Wall of Honor in 1993. In 2006, he was inducted into WVU’s College of Business and Economics Business Hall of Fame.
He and his wife Flip established the Guy H. and Mary Ann West School of Business Scholarship Endowment, and he has served in the past as chair of WLU’s capital campaign, which he supported with the largest lifetime gift commitment by individuals in the history of WLU.
He also is a member of West Liberty’s Foundation board of directors.
The Gary E. West College of Business at West Liberty University is proud to bear his name as a result of a 2010 gift. West’s generosity also has funded a number of other campus improvements.
To view the press conference video, please click here.