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$1M-plus gift from WVU Eberly College professor establishes community lectureship

Photo of Robert E. DiClerico with the text: $1 Million+ planned gift expanding educational opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the greater Morgantown community.

Download Professor Emeritus Robert E. DiClerico headshot

A beloved West Virginia University professor is expanding educational opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the greater Morgantown community via a planned gift of over $1 million to support a lecture focused on political leadership and democratic institutions.

Professor Emeritus Robert E. DiClerico retired from the Department of Political Science at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 2017. During his 45-year tenure at WVU, he taught more than 34,000 students and was the recipient of 14 teaching awards.

DiClerico’s planned gift will be used to bring a distinguished speaker to campus annually for a community-wide lecture that addresses an issue related to the functioning of the nation’s democratic political order.

“We are thrilled that Eberly College will be home of this important lecture series,” Eberly College Dean Gregory Dunaway said. “Professor DiClerico’s generous gift will provide an opportunity for our University and College community to engage on topics vital to our democracy. DiClerico’s thoughtful vision will leave a lasting and poignant legacy, which is consistent with the ideals and values that his teaching and scholarship exemplified. We are incredibly grateful for Professor DiClerico’s impactful gift.”

DiClerico noted that the topic of the lectureship is timely. He cited a recent survey, conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, which found that only 10% of the American people believe the U.S. democracy is working well.

“It’s no secret that our own democracy is seen to be in a rather precarious state at the moment, and that view is shared by a good many scholars around the country,” DiClerico said. “The stipend generated from my gift will bring to the campus individuals who have thought seriously about the interface of political leadership and our institutions and are thus entitled to be listened to. What they have to say will hopefully generate further discussion and reflection within WVU and the Morgantown community.”

DiClerico’s research on the U.S. presidency and presidential elections made him one of the nation’s leading experts on the subject during his time at WVU.

He joined the faculty in 1972, after earning his bachelor’s degree at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, and his doctorate at Indiana University as an Earhart Fellow. He was drawn to WVU for its “welcoming, friendly atmosphere” as well as its proximity to Washington, D.C., and his family in New England.

During his tenure, DiClerico served as director of undergraduate studies for the Eberly College Department of Political Science. He was also the University’s representative for the Rhodes and Truman Scholarship foundations for 30 years, during which he guided seven Rhodes Scholars and 24 Truman Scholars through the process.

DiClerico said he is grateful he enjoyed a long and fulfilling career at WVU.

“West Virginia University did an awful lot for me,” DiClerico said. “It provided me with the opportunity to teach a subject matter that excited me enough that I wanted to spend the rest of my career thinking, writing and conveying my enthusiasm about that subject matter to others. Moreover, I developed deep and lasting friendships with people at the University and in the town that I will value for the rest of my life.”

DiClerico was inducted into the Order of Vandalia, WVU’s highest service honor, last year in recognition of his loyalty and contributions to the University.

Now living in New London, New Hampshire, DiClerico continues to teach a seminar for retired adults each year. He also chairs a community group that meets monthly to discuss current issues.

DiClerico previously made a planned gift to support a scholarship established in his honor in 2003. The Robert E. DiClerico Scholarship in Democratic Institutions and Public Leadership goes to a junior or senior majoring in political science who is expected to have an impact on government institutions and leadership after graduating from WVU.

His latest gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.

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