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WVU grad creates mining engineering trust

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Retired Consol Energy Executive William N. Poundstone’s generosity to his alma mater continues with a new professorship in Mining Engineering at West Virginia University.

Through the creation of an annuity trust, Poundstone has created the William N. Poundstone Professorship in Mining Engineering at WVU. Funds from this endowment will provide a range of support to the recipient for research, teaching and service.

“I chose to use the gift to create a professorship because I believe that having the best qualified teachers is the most important part of a strong university,” he said. “West Virginia University did a good job of preparing me to work in the coal industry and I want to see it maintain and perhaps improve its ability to train engineers for the mining industry.”

He’d previously established the Poundstone Lecture Series, bringing individuals who had an exceptional career in mining and related industries to campus each fall to share their experiences with students and faculty, as well as the Distinguished Engineer of Mines Award through a charitable donation in 2000.

“This generous gift from Mr. Poundstone reflects his interest in supporting mining engineering education at WVU for decades to come,” said Christopher Bise, Robert E. Murray Chairman of Mining Engineering at WVU.

After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in mining engineering from WVU in 1949, Poundstone began a more than 30-year career with Consol, where he started as a timberman and rose through the ranks to executive vice president. When he retired in 1982, he was responsible for the company’s service functions, including engineering, exploration, land and environmental service, long-range planning, mining research and the design and building of all new mine functions. He is the holder of 34 U.S. patents and has authored numerous technical publications.

Poundstone received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including induction into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame, membership in the National Academy of Engineering and 1991 College of Mineral and Energy Resources Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. He received an honorary degree from WVU in 1981.

The gifts were made in conjunction with “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University.”

The $750-million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the university runs through December 2015.

James Wood, former deputy assistant secretary for clean coal in the U.S. Department of Energy, is the new director of the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center-Advanced Coal Technologies Consortium at WVU.

Wood succeeds founding director, Professor Jerry Fletcher.

In his role with the Energy Department, Wood was responsible for the country’s $4.5-billion Clean Coal Program. He most recently was chairman, president and CEO of ThermoEnergy Corp., a Massachusetts-based company focused on industrial wastewater treatment and power generation technologies.

“We are excited that we were able to recruit someone with Mr. Wood’s experience for this position,” said Fred King, vice president for research at WVU. “His experience with the DOE and the energy industry prepares him well to take on this role.”

King said Wood would help build stronger ties between industry and academia to advance global clean coal technologies.

The U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center was established between the U.S. and China in 2009 to focus on technologies for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, advanced coal and clean vehicles.

The U.S. Department of Energy selected WVU to manage the $25 million consortium.

“The Consortium has made important contributions in helping to guide the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center through its initial formation, and collaborations with public, private and academic participants in the U.S. and China,” Wood said.

Wood said his goals for the Center include continuing the University’s collaborative efforts with industry, government and other academic institutions on clean energy initiatives.

“Seeing a problem today and providing its solution tomorrow means a focus on a variety of research activities, including connections to and collaborations with governments, industry, NGOs and other academic research institutions. You might start 10 experiments, to find only one has promise. Then you need to convince industry to try the invention beyond the bench or pilot scale size. If it shows promise past that point, industry might be interested in a longer term, larger scale test. Only after success at that scale and time, might industry adopt the product and create a market.”