WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., April 6, 2022 – West Liberty University will welcome Dr. Jim Denova to the podium as its spring commencement speaker. The indoor ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., Saturday, May 7, in the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC).
“West Liberty University is honored Dr. Denova has agreed to speak to our Class of 2022. His reputation for innovation in education, and his ability to advance economic development, is undeniable. Thanks to his philanthropic skills, West Liberty University has enjoyed many advantages. Clearly, he is an exceptional leader,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, WLU president.
Evans will preside over the commencement ceremony and will confer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Denova during the proceedings.
Denova, who holds a doctoral degree in social research from the University of Pittsburgh, is a champion for education and for the state of West Virginia. In 2021, he retired from his position as vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
Denova has been an advocate for WLU, as well as other organizations and institutions in the community, region and state, who directly or indirectly support the mission of West Liberty University.
Through Denova’s leadership, the WLU Foundation has received nearly $2.5 million in Benedum Foundation programmatic grants since 2002 that support the College of Education and Human Performance. One such project is the WLU Center for Arts and Education.
Denova is an independent contractor working with a variety of education and economic development initiatives with more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy — including such roles as the vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, executive director of the Forbes Fund, and senior program officer with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.
Prior non-profit employment spans a range of positions: director of research and planning for the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, research director for the Community College of Beaver County, program director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, social service supervisor for John J. Kane Hospital, and senior therapist with Jefferson County Comprehensive Mental Health Center.
Over the years, he has served on the boards of Philanthropy West Virginia, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, the Women’s Center and Shelter, Film Pittsburgh, the Andrew Carnegie Free Library, the Remake Learning Council, the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics, and Manchester Bidwell Corporation.
Some of his publications include working papers and journal articles on school-based health services, STEAM education, the role of community colleges, and non-profit management. He is frequently asked to speak before public officials and policy makers on workforce development, teacher quality, arts education, and school leadership. He also acts as guest lecturer at several local universities.
Denova has received awards from the Children’s Defense Fund, Marshall University’s Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development, the Mon Valley Initiative, Philanthropy West Virginia, Southwest Pennsylvania Partnership on Aging, Shepherd University, and the National Association of Educational Service Agencies.
Denova now serves as an independent contractor and consultant for career education reform.
West Liberty University’s spring commencement will be in person but due to the size of the graduation class, each graduate will receive 5 tickets to share with family and friends. WLU also will offer live stream viewing for guests inside Kelly Theater. Commencement can also be viewed live on Topper Station (topperstation.com) as well as on social media.
Doors open for seating at commencement at 9:30 a.m.
A reception for graduates, guests and families will be held in the College Union immediately following the ceremony. Parking will be available for guests behind the ASRC.