Industry and Higher Education

An excerpt my memoir Morgantown to San Francisco:

As Foreign Student Advisor, I was on the Student Affairs Staff. It was announced at one of our   staff meetings that the speaking engagement of Timothy Leary, LSD guru, was cancelled. Miss Boyd explained it was because the university got its funding from the state legislature and they would likely cut that funding if the controversial Leary was not cancelled.

I naively thought that Universities were places where controversial issues could be debated. It was a lesson in who pulls the strings.

I have since learned that the boards that control West Virginia colleges and universities include owners and executives of large corporations. The presidents and officers of West Virginia higher education institutions are often on the boards of directors of large corporations.

The most recent example, reported in the March 16, 2018, edition of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, was the appointment of, Joyce McConnell, WVU provost and vice-president of academic affairs, to the board of directors of Antero Resources, a natural gas company. Amazingly, McConnell also “serves as the chair of the West Virginia Nature Conservancy.”

Another eye-opener is that the West Virginia Nature Conservancy website lists Antero Resources Corporation, Dominion Energy Services, Inc. and Southwestern Energy, as the three members of the Founders’ Circle, reserved for donors of $25,000. Makes me wonder what side the Nature Conservancy is on.


[2] Charleston Gazette-Mail, March 16, 2018

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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