WLU Foundation honors generous donors of philanthropy with first-ever award

Group Photo: Impact of Philanthropy honorees, from left (top), Todd Cover, Thomas Cervone and Susan Creswell, Rich Lucas. Bottom: Alex and Valerie Paris, Todd Clossin, Kristina Williams and James Taibi.

After generous contributions toward the betterment of West Liberty University (WLU), the WLU Foundation plans to award the first-ever Lifetime Impact of Philanthropy Award as well as six other Impact of Philanthropy Awards to deserving individuals during this year’s Homecoming festivities.

According to Angie Zambito-Hill, executive director of the WLU Foundation, these new awards are being granted out as an effort to “build a culture of philanthropy on the campus of West Liberty” by honoring the donors who have impacted WLU. The vision behind this award not only recognizes the donors but educates students about how their contributing dollars impacts campus life.

The chosen recipients of the Lifetime Impact of Philanthropy Award are Flip and Gary West, the largest donors, and alumni of WLU. The award is a showing of appreciation toward their continuous dedication and donations that have changed the face of campus.

According to an article regarding the awarding of this philanthropy award released by WLU Media Relations Director, Maureen Zambito, the Wests reside in Wheeling and Naples, Fla. and are large supporters of Hilltopper Athletics. The Wests have funded a variety of large projects on campus including the renovation of the West Family Football Stadium and West Family Athletic Complex (soccer and track field) which accumulated millions of dollars in support, explained Zambito-Hill.

“The West Family Athletic Complex which is the soccer and track facility was led by them (the West family) and would not be here today if they didn’t lead that project by making a $1,000,000 contribution,” said Zambito-Hill.

Other demonstrations of support shown by the Wests can be noticed in a significant number of scholarships given out by the Gary E. West College of Business, named after West for his gifts and continuous involvement in the form of business advice and speeches. The Wests have donated their dollars to many other campus needs, but the projects listed have been their greatest donations as of recently. Zambito-Hill furthered this by stating, “They are most deserving, and I am excited to present this honor to them. It will certainly be an exciting moment because they certainly deserve the recognition. They are amazing, humble and caring people.”

The six other Impact of Philanthropy Awards being given out honor individual and corporate donors who have donated $25,000 or more during the 2021 fiscal year to help complete important projects for WLU. The following contributors are: Belmont Savings Bank, Thomas Cervone and Susan Creswell, Main Street Bank, Alex and Valerie Paris, WesBanco and Kristina Williams and James Taibi.

According to Zambito’s news release, alumnus Cervone and his wife, Susan Creswell, recently endowed a theatre scholarship for students majoring in performance arts. Cervone has a strong love for West Liberty’s theatre program after receiving his undergraduate degree in speech and English with an emphasis in theatre.

President and CEO of Main Street Bank, WLU Board of Governors chairman and alumnus, Richard Lucas, was the reason behind the newly installed scoreboard located in the West Family Athletic Complex.

The Paris’s, alumni of WLU, led the renovations of the Coach Vince Monseau Wrestling Room and are responsible for the endowment of the Hilltopper Wrestling program.

President and CEO of WesBanco, Todd Clossin, helped provide the Kenneth B. McMillen Distinguished Professorship in American Studies in the newly combined College of Liberal and Creative Arts.

Williams and Taibi, alumnus of WLU, committed to help the Roland E. “Rollie” Williams International Center with funding as well as activities. The international center bears the name of William’s father, Roland E. “Rollie” Williams, a longtime professor of WLU.

The generosity and engagement of change that has been shown from the West family and the six awardees of the Impact of Philanthropy Award will be honored on Friday, Oct. 15 during a Recognition Banquet in the newly established Wall of Honor alcove on the upper floor of the Paul N. Elbin Library. According to Zambito-Hill, a glass trophy will be presented to these individuals by her and President W. Franklin Evans.

The WLU Foundation has partnered with Theresa Gretchen, executive director of WLTV and Topper Station to record brief testimonials of each donor that shares their passions for WLU and the motivation behind their support that will be presented before each award is handed out. Students interested in watching these videos can stay tuned by visiting Topper Station.

“It’s (the testimonials) something I would love to share with students after the event because I think the messages are really powerful. They’re all involved for different reasons, they’re all inspired from different motivations and reasons for why they love West Liberty and the video captures a lot of that,” said Zambito-Hill.

Zambito Hill explained that the WLU Foundation doesn’t plan to stop giving out these recognition awards and hopes to make this an annual occurrence for the well deserved donors of West Liberty University.

For more information about the WLU Foundation and how they support West Liberty through fundraising and investments, visit the foundation’s website.