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Mining executive donates $1 million to WVU for energy research

on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 08:00

West Virginia University officials today (Sept. 11) announced a $1 million contribution for energy research from Robert and Brenda Murray of Cleveland. The gift is the largest Research Trust Fund gift to date, and with the state RTF match, brings the total endowment to $2 million.

In honor of the contribution, the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources established the Robert E. Murray Chairmanship in Mining Engineering at WVU.

The Murrays’ gift will be used to support research by faculty and students into improved methods for the extraction and use of our nation’s fossil fuel resources, said Gene Cilento, dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.

“Bob Murray is a longtime friend and supporter of West Virginia University and of our College,” Cilento said. “This gift will enable our students and faculty to conduct the kind of groundbreaking research our nation needs to maximize our energy resources.”

Murray is president of Murray Energy Corp., the largest privately owned coal mining company in the United States. A fourth-generation miner, Murray began supporting his family at the age of 16 after his father’s paralysis from a mining accident. He worked for the North American Coal Corp. for 31 years before establishing Murray Energy.

Although a graduate of Ohio State University, Murray sent three sons to WVU -- Bob Jr., Jonathan and Ryan -- where they earned degrees in mining engineering and geology. All work for Murray Energy.

WVU President James P Clements, said, “We very much appreciate the commitment of donors to target gifts to the goals of the state’s Research Trust Fund, which matches private contributions dollar for dollar when geared to one of our key focus areas such as energy and the environment, which in this case will support research on safer, more efficient and cost effective ways to use fossil fuels.”

The West Virginia Research Trust Fund was established by the state Legislature to provide matching funds to private contributions that support research initiatives in key areas. Besides energy, those identified focus areas include biotechnology, biomedical, biometrics, materials science and engineering, and environmental science. To date, WVU has a combined total of nearly $6.5 million in gifts, pledges and matching state funds under the RTF initiative.