Denova will be the keynote speaker at WLU | News, Sports, Jobs

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty University will welcome Jim Denova to the podium as our Spring Speaker. The indoor ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. on May 7 at the Academic, Sports and Recreational Complex.

“West Liberty University is honored that Denova has agreed to speak to our Class of 2022. Its reputation for innovation in education and its ability to advance economic development is undeniable. Thanks to its philanthropic skills, West Liberty University has enjoyed many benefits. Clearly, he is an outstanding leader,” said W. Franklin Evans, president of WLU.

Evans will preside over the opening ceremony and confer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on Denova during the proceedings.

Denova holds a doctorate in social research from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2021, he leaves his position as vice-president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

Through Denova’s leadership, the WLU Foundation has received nearly $2.5 million in programmatic grants from the Benedum Foundation since 2002 that support the College of Education and Human Performance. One such project is the WLU Center for Arts and Education.

Denova is now an independent contractor working with a variety of education and economic development initiatives with over 20 years of experience in philanthropy – including roles such as Vice President of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Executive Director of the Forbes Fund and Senior Agent Program of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Previous nonprofit employment covers a range of positions, including director of research and planning for United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, director of research for Community College of Beaver County, program director for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, social services supervisor for John J Kane Hospital and senior therapist at Jefferson County Comprehensive Mental Health Center.

He has served on the boards of Philanthropy West Virginia, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, Women’s Center and Shelter, Film Pittsburgh, Andrew Carnegie Free Library, Remake Learning Council, University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics, and Manchester Bidwell Corp.

Some of his publications include working papers and journal articles on school-based health services, STEAM education, the role of community colleges, and nonprofit management. He is frequently invited to speak to government officials and policy makers on workforce development, teacher quality, arts education and school leadership. He also acts as a guest lecturer at several local universities.

Denova has received awards from the Children’s Defense Fund, Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development at Marshall University, Mon Valley Initiative, Philanthropy West Virginia, Southwest Pennsylvania Partnership on Aging, Shepherd University, and the National Association of Educational Service Agencies.

West Liberty University’s spring debut will be in person, but due to the size of the class, each graduate will receive five tickets to share with family and friends. WLU will also be offering a live stream to guests inside the Kelly Theater. The launch can be viewed live on Topper Station ( as well as on social media.

Doors open for seats from 9:30 a.m.

A reception for graduates, guests and families will be held at the College Union immediately following the ceremony. Parking will be available for guests behind ASRC.

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