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CEHS Hall of Fame: 2014 Inductees

Pamela Balch
Distinguished Alumni


Dr. Balch has distinguished herself as a leader in higher education with 36 years of experience. “Currently President of the WVWC since 2006, she has served as President of Mayville State University, ND; Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Bethany College, WV; Vice Provost for Academic Planning at California State University, Chico; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at San Diego State University, Imperial Valley Campus; Director of Teacher Education (San Diego State University); and was Director of Graduate Programs in Teacher Education at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

Significant accomplishments under the leadership of Dr. Balch include West Virginia Wesleyan being listed as a first-tier regional college in the Southeast for the past two years in U.S. News and World’s Report ’s Best Colleges Guide and the only college or university in West Virginia to be listed in the 2013 U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges “Great Schools at Great Prices” category. Wesleyan ranks first in the number of Appalachian College Association Scholarship recipients over the past five years and 17 students have been named international scholarship winners (including 13 Fulbright Scholars) during the past eight years. In addition, Dr. Balch has written and directed a 1.6 million dollar Title III grant directed toward assisting non­ traditional students. Dr. Balch has received several distinguished leadership awards for her accomplishments.

Dr. Balch has been a strong advocate for providing appropriate facilities to meet programmatic needs at WVWC. She has overseen new construction projects including a fitness center, science-research center, performing arts center, residence halls, fountain/campus green, welcome center, and a multi-purpose field and track.

Mary Ellen Burris


Mary Ellen Burris is Senior Vice President of Consumer Affairs for Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., based in Rochester, NY. In 1971 she joined Wegmans as the voice of the consumer and created a 100-person department responsible for consumer response and customer services, food safety and quality assurance, community relations, public relations and sustainability. Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. has 85 stores in 6 states. For 18 years, it has been one of Fortune Magazine’s Top 100 Companies To Work For and was #1 a few years ago. In March of 2014, Consumer Reports rated Wegmans as the best supermarket in the country.

Born in West Virginia, Burris received her B.S. Degree from West Virginia University in 1955 (Mary Ellen Tolley) and a M.Ed degree from the University of Rochester. Before joining Wegmans, she was a Cooperative Extension agent in New Jersey and New York. In the latter capacity, for Cornell University, she and consumer economics professor Dr. Heinz Biesdorf co-authored and co-hosted the award-winning educational television series and food shopper’s guide: Be A Better Shopper.

Currently, Burris serves on the Dean’s Advisory Committee, University of Rochester, Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. She is also on the Advisory Committee for the Center for Produce Safety, headquartered at the University of California, Davis. Other board positions include the New York Wine and Culinary Center, and the Healthi Kids Policy Team of the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, focused on helping children have healthy food to eat and active play.

Burris has been the recipient of numerous awards, one of the most prestigious being the Food Marketing Institute’s Esther Peterson Award in 2000 for consumer service. In 2013, she received the inaugural Chairman’s Award from the New York Wine and Culinary Center, honoring an individual or organization that has shown extraordinary resolve and persistence in promoting NY State products.

J. Joe Evans


Throughout his years of teaching science and preparing pre-service teachers for careers in elementary and secondary school teaching, as well as preparing students for working in science-­ related jobs, Joe was committed to helping students assume responsibility for life as a teacher. Joe also encouraged students/teachers to continue their education and at times to pursue a doctoral degree. He found time to serve on science educational doctoral committees at WVU. In the first few decades of Joe’s teaching career, if one wanted to contact him on the weekend, he and his colleagues led weekend field trips and workshops for students and science teachers in the Glenville wooded areas. These field trips were biological and environmental in nature. Students and teachers alike have a sense of confidence when working with Joe that “all would be well, that their time would be used wisely, and that they would be challenged and ready to become creative producers in their own sphere of influence.”

Beyond his teaching at Glenville, Joe is involved with other colleagues and science leaders across the State. Initially (1970s) Joe served on the West Virginia State Department of Education Science Committee bringing his expertise in developing physics and chemistry essentials, using scientific processes (inquiry and problem solving) and bringing awareness to the scientific attitudes. From that time to the present, Joe was continually involved in the development of state standards and processes for evaluating them as well. His expertise in science and his ability to work with others in diverse settings was recognized. He was invited to work with state, regional, and national organizations.

Donald P. Lauda


In 1969/70, Dr. Lauda was a post-doctoral student at WVU, when he worked on a federal grant in the Technology Education Department. Because of the excellent work that he and other doctoral students had accomplished, Don returned to WVU in 1973 to serve as professor and chairperson of the Technology Education Department. During that time,Dr. Lauda was a national leader in promoting curricula and professional change in the discipline, resulting in technology-based industrial arts programs in the public schools. Dr.Lauda’s experiences at WVU led him to two terms on the Board of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. In addition, he was elected as President of the American Council of Industrial Arts Teacher Education and as President of the International Technology Education Association.

Dr.Lauda accepted a position as Dean of the School of Technology at Eastern Illinois University in 1975. Under his leadership,numerous students went on to hold leadership positions in education. In 1983,Dr. Lauda accepted the position as Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at California State University/Long Beach. As one of the supporting letters stated,”that College was the largest on campus in terms of faculty,staff,and student enrollment and for well over 20 years he held the College up to standards of exceptional rigor.” Dr. Lauda concluded his tenure with a totally new venue. He became a highly recruited consultant and lecturer internationally on the topic of the Status of Alternate and Complementary Medicine in the United States.

Dr.Lauda’s accomplishments continue to contribute to the profession and his community.

Thomas P. Lombardi


Dr. Thomas P. Lombardi, retired WVU professor emeritus, has been named a CEH Hall of Fame recipient for 2014. A tireless advocate for individuals with special needs, Dr. Lombardi can be considered a pioneer authoring over 80 books, articles, and monographs during his career.

After receiving his doctorate from the University of Arizona and serving as an assistant professor there, he came to WVU in 1971. At that time, WVU’s special education department was solely preparing teachers for students with intellectual limitations. Shortly after his arrival in West Virginia, he chaired the committee for the West Virginia Department of Education that created the professional certification for teaching students with specific (rather than general) learning disabilities.

Dr. Lombardi served West Virginia as a hearing officer, expert witness, and its delegate to the first White House Conference for the Handicapped. Among his many honors, Lombardi was elected vice president of the American Association on Mental Retardation (now the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities), was named member of the year by the Council for Exceptional Children, was recognized as an outstanding teacher by WVU’s College of Education and Human Services three times, received a U.S. Fulbright Award to develop a special education teacher training program in Lisbon, Portugal, and was the runner-up for the Professor of the Year Award for all 25 institutions of higher education in West Virginia. He wrote and directed the Dean’s Grant designed to prepare all of the College’s students and faculty for responsible inclusion.

Lombardi’s scrapbook is thick with awards, honors, and articles proclaiming his commitment to the education of individuals with special needs. It includes information and news accounts of his various volunteer efforts, his national and international speaking engagements, and innovations in education. Travelling extensively as an author for several Phi delta Kappa fastback books, he was a featured speaker at many of the 600 PDK chapters in the United States and Canada. Dr. Lombardi established a recognition award given each year to a student with special needs who graduating from Monongalia County Schools, and he and his wife also established a WVU Foundation scholarship for a WVU student who plans to teach in special education.

In addition to his professional memorabilia, his scrap book also includes several pictures of a young man dancing as well as playbills of his appearances as “Tommy Lombardi the eight-year-old tango king.” Still a lover of dance to this day, Lombardi feels it is equally important to keep his body as active as his mind. He takes and has taught Zumba and Silver Sneakers lessons at various venues in Morgantown and Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Lombardi’s wife, two daughters, two sons-in-law, and grandson all are alumni of WVU.

Kathryn C. Vecellio


Kathryn Cottrill Vecellio is a West Virginia native who graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences/Secondary Education in 1971 and a Masters of Art in Guidance and Counseling in 1972. Although still having a home in West Virginia, Mrs. Vecellio has been a resident of Palm Beach County since 1979, and has worked as an organizer, fundraiser and development volunteer for many community, charitable and educational organizations in that area and throughout the country. Following in her parents’ spirit of philanthropy, Kathryn has established a reputation as a “hands on” volunteer, generously giving of her talents and tirelessly working toward seemingly unreachable goals, while making it all look effortless.

One of Mrs. Vecellio’s most recent accomplishments was chairing the Palm Beach Heart Ball, raising a record breaking $2.48 million, making it the most successful Heart Ball in the nation. Along with this record breaking achievement, Mrs. Vecellio has made her mark over the years by chairing or co-chairing a myriad of fundraising events. She has served as a trustee for many organizations including Palm Beach Atlantic University, Palm Beach Community College Foundation, Norton Museum of Art, St. Mary’s Hospital, Intra-Coastal Health Systems, Benjamin School, the Center for Children in Crisis and the Center for Family Services. She also served on the Visiting Committee for WVU’s School of Human Resources and Education for fourteen years. Mrs. Vecellio has been an advocate for children and their success, whether working for children’s health, protection or education through science and the arts for over forty years.

She is currently serving as a Trustee on the National Board for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society (which awards over $60 million per year for research to further its mission to eradicate blood diseases), Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, The Kravis Center for Performing Arts, the Schepens Eye Research Institute and the Vecellio Family Foundation. She also serves on the Cleveland Clinic Florida Health and Wellness Center Leadership Board, the American Heart Association Palm Beach County Market Board of Directors and on the National Development Committee for NSDAR.

With a lifetime of work volunteering and many years of full-time community service, Kathryn’s honors and distinctions are many and include “Florida’s Finest Award for Community Service” -Gov. Laughton Childs, “Women in Leadership Award” – Executive Women of the Palm Beaches, “The William Booth Society Award” – Salvation Army, “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award” – Association of Fundraising Professionals, “Women of Distinction Award” – Palm Beach Atlantic University, to name but a few.

Kathryn and her husband of thirty-nine years, Leo, and their two sons, own the Vecellio Group, Inc., which has been one of the nation’s Top 400 Contractors since 1938 and is now in its “4th generation as a family owned and operated business” since their sons have taken on leadership roles. Their Family Foundation has supported 344 students with a total of $2.9 million scholarship dollars and has donated $6.3 million to the needs of many West Virginia and Florida organizations, charities, communities and schools.

For Kathryn, as well as the rest of her family, giving back is a way of life exemplified every day by this dynamic, volunteer, activist, educator and fundraiser. Fortunately, she also has continued to be loyal to WVU. In addition to funding the Dr. Clarence C. and Maxine D. Cottrill General Dentistry Endowment for Continuing Education and the Cottrill Dental School Scholarship in honor of her parents, she also developed the Kathryn C. Vecellio CEHS Scholarship in the College of Education and Human Services. This scholarship is targeted for enrolled students who have completed their first year while maintaining a high GPA and also participating in community service. In addition, the Vecellio Family Foundation has donated funds to various other college projects, most notably the Allen Hall Speech Clinic.