90631stlady-sm.jpgBETHANY, W.Va. –West Virginia First Lady, Gayle Conelly Manchin will visit Bethany College on Thursday September 20, 2007. She will speak at 11 a.m. in historic Commencement Hall on, “Education in the 21st Century.”

Manchin will also be honored at the Convocation, which formally opens Bethany’s academic year. Prior to her address, she will be presented the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

In 2001, Manchin became the West Virginia Director of the AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Program, and under the Office of Secretary of Education and the Arts she implemented the West Virginia Partnerships to Assure Student Success (PASS) initiative.

During Governor Joe Manchin’s first administration, he appointed her as Vice Chair of the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Families, Chair of the Governor’s Healthy Lifestyles Coalition, Citizen Advisory and Co-Chair on the Governor’s 21st Century Jobs Cabinet.

Commenting on the appropriateness of the First Lady receiving Bethany’s highest honor, President G. T. (Buck) Smith noted, “Mrs. Manchin has served the education needs of literally thousands of children. Given the recognized distinction of Bethany’s programs in teacher preparation, it is most fitting that we honor her in this manner.”

Manchin is currently a national board member of The Center for Study of Economic Diversity, Inc. in Highlands, Texas, serves as a partner on the WV Partnership to promote Community Well Being Commission and serves as the Nomination Chair on the executive board of The Education Alliance.

In addition, the Governor has appointed her to serve as Commissioner on the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service and as a member of the State Board of Education.

To receive an honorary degree from Bethany, candidates must be approved by the Faculty and the Board of Trustees and meet two of three criteria: distinguished contribution in his or her profession, distinguished contribution to the welfare of society and/or distinguished contribution to Bethany College.

Governor Manchin was similarly honored by Bethany last March when he spoke on campus and was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

“It is a rare thing for a college or university to honor both a husband and wife, especially in the same year,” said Smith. “But then, it also is a rare thing for a state to have a Governor and First Lady who serve a single cause, in this case education, with such individual distinction and contribution.”

The public is cordially invited to attend the Convocation ceremonies. For reservations and parking, or information about the First Lady’s visit, please contact the Office of the President at 304-829-7115.