Rockefeller Honored with School of Policy, Politics in His Name

Nov 9, 2014

Some 2,000 boxes of documents, 500 gigabytes of data and hundreds of pieces of memorabilia now have a new home at West Virginia University after President E. Gordon Gee and Senator Jay Rockefeller announced Saturday the university's library will serve as Rockefeller's official Senatorial archive.

During a presentation in the Wise Library on the university's main campus, Gee also announced the creation of school in the Senator's namesake. The political science program has separated from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and will join with a policy institute that's in the works to create the John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics.

"[The school] is going to cover a broad range of study. It’s going to do it openly, honestly and absolutely fearlessly. Some of it will be controversial and so be it," Rockefeller said.

A view of the room in WVU's Wise Library.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The senator said he plans to take an active role in shaping the education students of the school will receive, pushing the focus toward policy and public service.

"My vision, and one that President Gee and WVU shares," Rockefeller said Saturday, "is a place that ignites the embers of service and scholarship in scores of young men and women for years and years to come, setting them on a path to utterly transforming West Virginia and maybe just a little bit the world.”

According to Dr. Scott Crichlow, who will lead the new school, the university hopes to have the policy institute in place by the summer of 2015.

Sen. Rockefeller spoke with reporters after the announcement Saturday.
Credit Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

As for the photos, awards, pottery and art the Rockefeller's donated, many pieces are currently on display in a gallery in the Wise Library. The documents are in the process of being transferred to the school and will be available for study by students, faculty and, most importantly to the senator, the public.

“I hope when people read these volumes, they will better understand both the legislative issues, but also me," Rockefeller said, :and why it is I fought so hard and continued to and will ever continue for those least able to fight for themselves.”

Rockefeller announced his retirement in January 2013. A transplant who originally came to the state as a VISTA volunteer, the senator also pledged to stay in West Virginia. 

“West Virginia is where I found my life’s purpose, my spiritual calling," he said, "and it is in West Virginia that I hope my legacy will be remembered and my journey as a public servant understood.”