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New MU engineering building to be named for Weisbergs

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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal 

The Marshall University Board of Governors has voted to name the school's new engineering building for the Weisberg family. The Huntington family has provided a multi-million dollar gift to help pay for the new $50 million structure.

The board acted at its meeting Monday, June 18, which also saw it approve a new contract for Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp. Marshall didn't reveal the salary and other details in the new contract pending its submission to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission for its approval.

Over the years, Art Weisberg and his wife, Joan, have been generous donors to Marshall. At their request, Marshall didn't disclose the dollar figure for their latest gift. However, under the university's official policy, the gift would have to be several million dollars in order for the building to carry the family name.

The new engineering building is to be built on 3rd Avenue on a current parking lot located between the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center and the Art Weisberg Family Engineering Laboratories, already named for the family.

Foundation work on the new building is scheduled to begin this fall after Marshall's new parking garage on 6th Avenue opens for use. University officials have said the garage had to be built first to provide parking to replace the spaces that will be lost when work starts on the engineering building.

Art Weisberg is the founder of Huntington-based State Electric Supply Co. The company was born in 1952 when Weisberg loaded his truck with light bulbs, extension cords and fuses and then hit the road selling to "mom and pop" grocery and hardware stores. Today, the company has evolved into one of the nation's biggest and best-known electrical distributors, with more than 50 locations in a half-dozen states.

Kopp's present contract runs through November 2013. Under it, he is paid an annual salary of $275,000, plus bonuses of $50,000 from the private Marshall University Foundation and a number of benefits, including free housing in the university's official presidential home on the city's South Side.

Kopp assumed the presidency at Marshall University in 2005, taking over from interim president Michael J. Farrell. He joined Marshall following leadership positions with Midwestern University, Central Michigan University and Ohio University. He received a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1973 from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics in 1976 from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

In other action, the board approved new bachelor's degrees in energy management through the College of Business and creative writing/literary studies in the College of Fine Arts. It also approved preliminary planning for a new bachelor's degree in digital forensics and information security through the Marshall Forensic Science Center.

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