Governor Cecil H. Underwood served six terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates (Tyler County, 1944-1954), the last four terms as minority leader. He was first elected governor of West Virginia in 1956 at age 34 and was the youngest governor in state history. In 1996, Governor Underwood was elected the 32nd Governor of West Virginia. He took office January 13, 1997.
Born November 5, 1922, the Tyler County native was educated in West Virginia public schools and graduated from Salem College, Salem, WV, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He received a Master of Arts degree from West Virginia University. He also has been awarded 12 honorary doctoral degrees from American colleges and universities.
Governor Underwood was president of Bethany College from 1972-75 and was also a member of the visiting committee for the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. Governor Underwood is president of the National Association of State Councils on Vocational Education and has been president of the West Virginia State Council since 1987. He has taught school at both the high school and college levels and most recently served as an adjunct professor in political science at Marshall University, Huntington, WV. He is a member of the board of trustees of Salem-Teikyo University, Salem, WV, and has been a member of the boards of directors of the West Virginia State College System and the West Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges. He is past chairman of both groups.
In June 1997, Governor Underwood was elected chairman of the Southern Technology Council, a division of the Southern Growth Policies Board. Governor Underwood also is chairman-elect of the SGPB and is scheduled to serve as chairman for 1998-99. In September 1997, the Southern States Energy Board elected Governor Underwood as its chairman.
Governor Underwood served as chairman of Morgantown Industrial/ Research Park Inc., a company formed to bring high-tech industry and employment to central West Virginia. He is a past president of the Software Valley Foundation and a former vice president for Monsanto Corp. and Island Creek Coal Co.
Governor Underwood and his wife, Hovah, maintain a home in Huntington, WV. They are the parents of three adult children and have five grandchildren.