Energy Companies Support Environmental Geosciences Program at Concord

For Immediate Release: 
Mar 09 2005

Energy Companies Support Environmental Geosciences Program at Concord

Athens, W.Va. – Massey Energy Company and International Industries, Inc., are supporting the launch of an environmental geosciences program at Concord University. The University hosted a luncheon on Friday, February 25, to thank the energy companies for their support.

Dr. Joseph L. Allen, department chair of the physical science department, associate professor of geology and division chair of natural sciences prepared the environmental geosciences proposal that the energy companies are supporting.

A pilot program was launched in 1995 with 21 students graduating and either finding in-state employment within the environmental and resource industry or pursuing graduate school.

Dr. Allen said that, “West Virginia currently has the fewest academic geoscience departments per capita in the nation, which is quite surprising for a state that is highly dependent upon the safe and efficient utilization and management of natural resources including coal, natural gas, and timber.

“Our environmental geosciences program directly supports positive economic change within West Virginia, and particularly in the Appalachian coalfields and adjacent areas. The resource industry will increasingly require technologically skilled professionals that understand the complex nature of Earth processes, and how societal use of resources can be balanced with the environment.

“This is the first academic year for this program at Concord and we have 35 students enrolled in this program. Around 350 students took the introductory courses. The ‘intro’ classes will be a great benefit to students who want to work as accountants or in some other professional capacity in the energy industry,” he concluded.

Concord student Anthony Johnson from Vienna said that, “At first I wanted to major in biology, but now I want to be a petroleum geologist.”

Student Felicity Ferri from Oak Hill has worked for a company that drills gas wells. “My job caused me to choose environmental geosciences and geology,” she noted.

Students Jessica Ofsa from Athens and Pete Padula from Fairmont will pursue teaching as careers.

Massey has 19 modern mining complexes, 15 state-of-the-art preparation plants and 18 rail coal loading facilities located in southern W.Va., eastern Ky., and southern Va. In 2003, Massey produced 41 million tons of coal.

International Industries, Inc. is comprised of coal mining, timber, manufacturing, hotel and real estate companies located mainly in W.Va. International Industries was founded by James H. “Buck” Harless.

The companies are funding a portion of the salary of a tenure-track environmental geosciences professor at Concord University.

CEO Donald Blankenship and Director of Public Relations Jeff Gillenwater attended the luncheon on behalf of Massey. James H. “Buck” Harless represented International Industries.

Other guests in attendance included: Della Cline, James “Jim” Connolly, Jeff Eggleston, Glenn T. “Tom” Hall, Charles Peters, Dan Pochick, Karen Preservati, Robert Richardson and Susie Rogers.

Concord University students included: Felicity Ferri from Oak Hill, Anthony Johnson from Vienna, Jessica Ofsa from Athens and Pete Padula from Fairmont.

The following represented Concord’s faculty, staff, Board of Governors and Foundation: Joseph L. Allen, David A. Barnette, Jerry Beasley, Jean Beasley, Sherry Brogan, James “Jim” Cannon, Darrell Crick, Sarah Dalton, John Ferguson, Hobart “Bart” Harvey, Suellen Hodges, Anita Lewis, David Matchen, Ted Rogers, Bill Skeat and Loretta A. Young.

Mr. Barnette, on behalf of the institution’s Foundation noted that, “It is critical, if we are to succeed, to reach out and raise private funds so that we can do what the state cannot support. Don Blankenship and Buck Harless are providing critical support for this program.”

Mr. Blankenship noted that focusing on academic programs that have a cost to benefit strategy is a good practice in West Virginia.

Concord President Jerry L. Beasley stressed the importance of private support for academic programs and initiatives.

For more information on the environmental geosciences program at Concord, contact Dr. Allen at 1-304-384-5238 or


PHOTO: Glenn T. “Tom” Hall, James “Jim” Connolly, David A. Barnette and Jerry L. Beasley represent Concord’s Foundation and accept financial support for the environmental geosciences program from Donald Blankenship with Massey Energy Company and James H. “Buck” Harless with International Industries, Inc.

PHOTO: Concord students and faculty appreciate the support of Concord’s environmental geosciences program by Massey Energy Company and International Industries, Inc. From the left, Pete Padula, David Matchen, Joseph Allen, Felicity Ferri and Jessica Ofsa.