WEST LIBERTY, Virginia, July 12, 2021 – West Liberty University secured another alumnus in a special graduation ceremony held on July 8, 2021 at Stratford Springs Restaurant.
Vice President of External Affairs Jason Koegler acted as master of ceremonies for the unique event held in honor of Phyllis J. “Flip” in West Wheeling and Naples, Florida. The ceremony live was also broadcast via Topper Station for family members and specials. guests who were unable to attend in person.
Senator Ryan Weld gave a brief opening speech stressing that you are never too old to plan for your future. Weld further thanked West for his unwavering support of the university for many years.
WLU President Dr W. Franklin Evans conferred the doctorate on West after delivering a brief welcoming speech and reading his official diploma to everyone’s enjoyment and applause. He then went on to say:
“Thank you for the investment you have made in the institution. There is a saying that behind every great man there is a great woman. You have been united and generous, by his side (Gary) to support this institution. Thank you. I realize thank you are two little words but I want you to know how much we appreciate you.
At graduation I tell our graduates to give back and I refer to another saying that says “service is the rent you pay to be a human being”. You have been an amazing human being in your philanthropy to WLU. Hope this is just an extension of your philanthropy, so don’t stop. And now you can proudly say that I am a WLU alumnus.
West was at a loss for words and was delighted with the honor.
“This is the most precious gift I have,” she said. “The two greatest gifts of my life are this diploma and my husband.
Executive Director of Alumni Affairs Ron Witt made an alumni pledge and officially welcomed West to the alumni association, ending with the phrase “Hail to West Liberty.”
Dr Linda Cowan also performed the Alma Mater and violinist Ben Podolski provided the music.
West and her husband are responsible for many donations to the university that have helped strengthen WLU’s mission and the student experience.
Gary E. West College of Business is named after Mr. West as an alumnus and longtime friend of the university and in recognition of his endowment of the West College of Business Scholarship Program. Other major giveaways the couple are responsible for include the West Family Stadium and the West Family Athletic Complex, along with countless little giveaways.
West began his career decades ago by buying out Valley Welding Supply Company and later refining the business practices he learned at WLU to transform the one-stop shop into Valley National Gases, Inc. The West company grew into the largest private distributor of industrial and medical gases and welding supplies. in the USA.
The special ceremony is archived on Topper Station and can be viewed here.