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Philanthropist, entrepreneur leader to speak at WVU

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Verl O. Purdy, a former chemical industry executive turned entrepreneur and philanthropist, will speak at the West Virginia University's College of Business and Economics Distinguished Speaker Series on Nov. 8.

Purdy, a WVU alumnus who was an executive at B.F. Goodrich Chemicals, FMC Corp. and BASF, turned into an entrepreneur and philanthropist after retiring.  

Dr. Jose "Zito" Sartarelli, dean of the College of Business and Economics, said Purdy, a native of Poca, will be "a fantastic role model for B&E students."

"Mr. Purdy is a great story, and it would be very beneficial for students, the university community and any interested person to hear him speak," Sartarelli said. "He was very successful in the chemical industry and was able to continue his interest in business through his entrepreneurial interests. He is also very philanthropic and has a very keen understanding to the funding side of business."

The B&E Distinguished Speaker Series is presented in part by Wells Fargo. Purdy will speak at 10 a.m. at the Erickson Alumni Center. The event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served to attendees. Other people who have spoken during the Distinguished Speakers Series include Cisco CEO John Chambers and Triana Energy CEO Henry Harmon. 

Purdy graduated from WVU with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1964 and received a master's degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina in 1973. After working for B.F. Goodrich Chemicals, he joined FMC Corp. as an area production manager in 1967. In 1969, he joined the BASF group where he played a major role in developing the company into a multi-billion-dollar corporation. While employed at BASF, he held numerous positions before becoming vice president of the Intermediate Chemicals group, a corporate officer, and a member of the executive committee.

In 1980, he left BASF to become CEO of Rio Tinto Zinc Chemicals in the United States and Canada. He shaped the company from the ground up into a leader in the chemical treatment industry. In 1984, Purdy established the AGDATA group of companies, now one of the largest agricultural, animal and human health data analysis and marketing companies in the world. Purdy sold AGDATA in 2010 and currently sits on its board of directors. He is also a co-founder of Cadrillion Capital, a closely held private investment firm located in Charlotte, N.C.  

Purdy currently lives in North Carolina.