West Liberty University has announced the establishment of the Institute for Energy and Commerce, which will conduct research on the economic impacts of the energy industry and plot strategy for training the industry's future leaders.
"The continuing influence of the coal industry and the rapid growth of the natural gas industry have created both questions and opportunities,” said WLU President Robin C. Capehart. "It’s our belief that West Liberty University, which is strategically located in the heart of both the coal and natural gas industries, is well-positioned to lead this regional and national discussion."
Serving as a visiting scholar and distinguished research fellow at the new Institute will be Dr. Michael J. Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research and a professor of economics in the Miller College of Business at Ball State University, Capehart said.
Chairman of the Institute’s Industry Council will be Chris Hamilton, senior vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association. Hamilton has spent nearly 40 years in the coal mining industry. He has been responsible for legislative, regulatory and technical matters affecting the industry and serves as co-chair of the West Virginia Coal Forum, a joint labor-management group designed to foster a dialogue between miners and coal operating personnel, and as co-chair of the Mountaintop Mining Coalition.
Located about one hour's drive west of Pittsburgh, West Liberty University is a member of the GlobalPittsburgh Education Partnership and an active participant in its Study Pittsburgh initiative.