West Liberty, W.Va., Dec. 9, 2017 —West Liberty University graduates enjoyed a cold but sunny December Commencement Day as President Stephen Greiner presided over the ceremony held at 11 a.m. today. Two hundred and eight students were members of the graduating class.
Held in the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC), the formalities began with music provided by the WLU Wind Ensemble under the direction of Max Ganano. Senior music major Gabrielle Bennett then performed the National Anthem.
Graduating student speaker, Maria Ganoe, who earned a biology degree, next addressed the audience. An Elbin Scholar, Ganoe finished her degree in three-and-a half years, while earning the highest GPA in the College of Science. She plans on becoming a physician and begins graduate school next month.
Ganoe, who is from Garrett County, Mld., explained that “when I first came to WLU, like most of us I had no idea how meaningful this place would become.”
“West Liberty to me is an astounding biology program with incredible opportunities, dedicated, caring professors and talented, driven students. West Liberty to me is the place I ventured off to with my best friend and where I have grown up and received the chance to experience life.”
Ganoe took time to formally thank her parents, Dan and Rosie Ganoe and congratulate her fellow graduates before closing her remarks.
President Greiner then called commencement speaker Patrick B. Ford to the podium and presented him with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Ford is the executive director of the Business Development Corporation (BDC) of the Northern Panhandle and also serves on the WLU Board of Governors.
Ford, whose office is located in Weirton, began by stating: “I believe in the Ohio River Valley and our people, our state and economic development.”
He then went on to make an inspirational comparison to the well-known Christmas story, “The Polar Express.” Referring to it as one of his favorite Christmas movies, he described how it causes him reflect.
“As a child in Hutchinson, Kansas, I remember when family farms became obsolete and corporate farms became the norm.” He went on to describe his desire to counter this vivid memory with his leadership and economic development work in the Ohio Valley.
He also encouraged graduates to always bring their A-game and perform at their top capacity as they foster their sense of belief in themselves and their communities.
“Why and how has our board of directors seen opportunities when others haven’t? Well we believe.” He made reference to a regional economic study his board acquired, explaining that “we followed their recommendations and I studied what other development leaders did and it worked.”
“I hear the bell ring. And if seeing is believing — well I say that believing is seeing. Seeing the opportunity. Believing is doing. Taking the calls, doing the work, taking the risk to do the deals. In economic development … more and more people hear the bell ringing.”
“Don’t wait if you’re going to hear the bell. Make it ring yourself.”
He went on to describe the increase in jobs and improvement in the general economic state of the Ohio Valley, saying it’s because we believe.
Ford’s final advice was, “All of you, here is your first gift of Christmas. Believing is not something you just capture, particularly as you get older. Right now, you are at the time of your life when you should believe. Believe in yourself, your future, your community. Because then you will ensure a better future for us all.”
Also in attendance at the ceremony as guests of Ford and his wife Alecia, were several dignitaries including Pulitzer Prize Winner Margie Mason (Public Service), Hancock County Circuit Clerk Chuck Wright, Weirton City Manager and BDC Board of Director Travis Blosser and Wellsburg City Councilman David Holden.
A reception for graduates, guests and families immediately followed the ceremony and was held in the College Union.
The Commencement Ceremony was televised live on WLU-TV 14 (Comcast Channel 14 and online at wltvonline.com and will be rebroadcast over the weekend.
Established in 1837, West Liberty University is a forward-looking, four-year public university steeped in a rich heritage as West Virginia’s oldest institution. Today it offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs including master’s in education, physician assistant studies, criminology, biology, professional studies and an online MBA. For more information on WLU, please call 1.866.WESTLIB or visit westliberty.edu.