West Liberty, W.Va., June 5, 2017 — West Liberty University’s Assistant Professor of Art Robert Villamagna was inducted into the Wheeling Hall of Fame at a dinner ceremony, held on Saturday, June 3, 2017 at WesBanco Arena.
“When I heard I would be presented with this award, it kind of knocked my socks off,” Villamagna said. “But I’m really honored and thank the board for giving me this award and my presenter Cheryl Harshman.” Villamagna is an assistant professor of art and curator of the WLU Nutting Gallery and was nominated in the category of Music and Fine Arts.
Wheeling Hall of Fame Board member Cheryl Harshman presented Villamagna’s biography and delivered his formal induction. Harshman also is a WLU employee and serves as the director of the Elbin Library.
His wife Chris and his mother-in-law Pat Tadajski attended the induction, along with President Stephen Greiner, his wife Nancy, and other WLU administrators.
During his acceptance speech, Villamagna took time to thank the many people who have influenced his career, beginning with his father Geno Villamagna, who took him on a childhood trip to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum. He went on to express gratitude to his grade school art teacher Mrs. Rosemary Billie and even his boss Tim Russell at Weirton Steel, where he worked for 13 years before getting into the field of teaching.
A native of California, Villamagna resided in both, Toronto, Ohio and Weirton, W.Va. over his childhood and his youth. He has lived in Wheeling for 21 years.
He was 38 years old and a father of four when he began college. He also served in the United States Air Force after graduating high school after completing a manpower development and training program offered to high school graduates at the time.
Villamagna joined WLU in 1996 as an interim professor and remains an important part of the College of Arts and Communication, teaching studio art. He earned his master’s at Wright State University and his undergraduate degree at Franciscan University.
Just last year the West Virginia Division of Culture and History chose him as the 2016 West Virginia Artist of the Year. Villamagna also received four individual awards from W.Va. Division of Culture and History at W.Va. Juried Exhibitions in 2015, 2013, 2009 and 2005. He also serves on the Wheeling Arts Commission.
Other Wheeling Hall of Fame inductees for 2017 include: Margaret Ann “Peg” Brennan: Education and Religion; J. Ross Felton: Business, Industry and Professions; Dr. John Frissell (deceased): Business, Industry and Professions; Betty Woods “Snookie” Nutting: Public Service; Mollie O’Brien: Music and Fine Arts; Charles P. Saad (deceased): Sports and Athletics; Harry S. Sands (deceased); Philanthropy; Helen Turner Sands (deceased): Philanthropy and Frederick P. Stamp, Jr.: Public Service.
The Wheeling Hall of Fame is housed at WesBanco Arena, and was begun in 1980. Both former and present Wheeling residents are nominated, researched and voted on by the board, which is appointed by the mayor. Each candidate must have served in a specific field that brought honor to Wheeling and have achieved success and recognition in one of the above mentioned categories. In addition to Harshman, others serving on the Wheeling Hall of Fame Board include, chairman Robert DeFrancis, vice chairman Jeanne Finstein, secretary-treasurer Patricia Pockl, Wayne Barte, Richard Coury, Jay Frey, Jon-Erik Gilot, Douglas Huff, David Javersak, C.J. Kaiser, David H. McKinley, William Nutting, Gary Sacco, Philip Stahl, the Rev. Bob Willits, Dianna Vargo and Maureen Zambito. Wendy Scatterday is the Wheeling City Council representative.
For Wheeling News-Register coverage of the event, please click here.