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WVU's College of Arts and Sciences connects with Charleston alumni

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences is connecting with its Charleston alumni more than ever.

"Charleston has the largest concentration of alumni for our college. We're coming here each semester and bringing our faculty expertise to strengthen our relationship with our alumni and get people engaged in current event discussions," said Eberly's dean, Robert Jones.

The school will host an Eberly Ideas forum in Charleston after the election next month with WVU's political scientists leading the discussion.

"We're going to talk about what happened and why, and we're going to open it up to the public. People will be able to ask questions about politics in West Virginia and the country," Jones said.

A venue for the post-election forum has not yet been determined.

The Eberly college, which offers majors from biology and chemistry to English and economics, is working under a new strategic plan and has added 40 new faculty members this year -- a 10 percent increase to its staff.

Courses offered at Eberly are not only helping students prepare for the real world, but how to face and solve the world's issues, Jones said.

"We see the next big societal issues that need to be solved, and it's going to take a lot more than scientists and engineers. Climate change, health-care reform, these things have a technical side but are embedded in human and social systems. If you have the best technology available and it's misused, it's totally useless," he said.

"Our plan is to build interdisciplinary teams as glue factors because of the things happening in the world. It's the analytical thinking skills and communication skills that are critical for a person to become highly successful in any endeavor. We want our students to be able to examine information and think across lines for that next big adventure or idea."

The college, whose mantra is "locally focused, nationally prominent, globally engaged," is also reemphasizing its research arm, with a corporate research park underway and a new focus on intellectual property and economic well-being.

"We're enhancing entrepreneurship, commercialization and innovation. Our percentage of students interested in starting companies and patents is increasing, and we're making sure we see the pinnacle of research and are at the top of our game," Jones said.

"We recognize that this generation of students is a major source for creativity, and we're driving upward and making investments that are sure to get us to the top. I can see the early signs of success."

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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