Special weekend ahead at WVSU with building dedication, commencement

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Friday kicks off a weekend of celebrations at West Virginia State University that includes a building dedication and spring commencement.

More than 220 students will graduate from West Virginia State University (WVSU) on Saturday during a commencement ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. in the D. Stephen and Diane H. Walker Convocation Center.

Ericke Cage, the WVSU president told 580-WCHS that commencement weekend is one of his favorite weekends.

“It is a culminating experience for our students. To see them walk across the stage and get their degree and begin the next chapter of their life is why we are here as administrators, faculty and staff,” Cage said.

The commencement speaker is Dr. Lateef Saffore, a WVSU alumnus and president of the WVSU National Alumni Association. Saffore is a trained molecular biologist and has worked for the Cleveland Clinic for 16 years as a Research Scientist.

The university said while employed there, he mentored many other scientists and physicians on good laboratory practices and management. He has peer-reviewed publications and accepted several invitations to give presentations on his research at conferences across the country.

In addition to Saffore, the commencement ceremony will feature remarks from Cage, WVSU Board of Governors Chair Charles E. Jones, Jr., and WVSU Student Government Association President and graduating senior Angelica Allison.

The event will be live-streamed on WVSU’s live-stream channel.

“A lot of our students come to us after life throws them curveball. Through the power of education, through the mentorship, through our academic programs, we help our students hit home runs in life,” Cage continued about the ceremony.

On Friday at 11:30 a.m., there is a dedication ceremony to formally rename the building that houses the administrative offices of WVSU’s land-grant administration programs. Formerly known as the ACEOP Building, it will now be named the Dr. R. Charles Byers Land-Grant Administration Building in honor of long-time WVSU professor and administrator Dr. R. Charles Byers. The naming ceremony will take place at the building.

A 1968 graduate of WVSU, Byers served the university in a variety of capacities over a career that spanned more than 40 years.

Dr. R Charles Byers

Byers joined the WVSU faculty in 1972 and spent the next 17 years as an associate professor of teacher education, WVSU said. He served for 12 years as the Vice President for Planning and Advancement, Title III Director and Executive Director for the WVSU Research and Development Corporation before being named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

He retired as Provost of the University in 2014 after 41 years of service at WVSU. He returned to WVSU as Interim Provost in July 2019, and later served from May through August 2020 as the University’s Interim President, becoming the first alumni of WVSU to serve in that capacity.

“He has been with us for over 40 years. He’s served in several key roles such as provost and interim president. He was instrumental in working with a core group that helped the university restore its land-grant status,” Cage said.