Dr. Richard Cavasina understands the importance of the values he acquired at West Virginia University and wants to pass these same principles on to aspiring counselors and psychologists. He will do so through a future scholarship endowment, which will support students in the Department of Counseling, Rehabilitation Counseling and Counseling Psychology at the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University.
Cavasina and his wife, Toni, have established the Dr. Richard and Toni Cavasina Counseling Scholarship via a significant estate gift to the college. Their gift is the largest ever made to the counseling department. As a community leader with a strong personal and professional devotion to education, Cavasina understands the importance of a good education, but also how hard this can be to achieve.
Even though he received degrees from other institutions, Cavasina says his core values of civility, integrity, responsibility and respect weren't really developed until he arrived at WVU to obtain his doctorate in education.
“When I was teaching in Hardy County, the kids were phenomenal, but many were from poor families,” Cavasina said. “They had a lot of potential, but they did not have the means to further their educations. My education at WVU allowed me to accomplish what I did, and I want students to have that same experience.”
After leaving the Hardy County schools, Cavasina went on to earn his Ed.D. in counseling practice from WVU. “I think what really surprised me was that the faculty were people,” Cavasina said. “They were people you could talk to, people you could relate to. They were compassionate and they showed an interest in you.”
Shortly after graduating from WVU, Cavasina became a faculty member by joining the Department of Psychology at California University of Pennsylvania. Cavasina had a very successful, twenty-eight year career at California University Pennsylvania where he served in many administrative roles and received several awards for community service, outreach and research. One of the most prestigious awards, the Presidential Faculty Award for Research, allowed him to report on his findings at the Oxford Roundtable at Anthony’s College at the University of Oxford, England.
Through all of his success, Cavasina continues to look back at his time at WVU fondly. “I learned how to be a person and a professional there, and how to take my place in the professional world. It has made me what I am today.”
In June 2012, after retiring from Cal U as a faculty Emeritus, Cavasina received
a liver transplant at Allegheny General Hospital. Since his recovery, he
has drawn on his experience in the field of mental health as director of the patient
advocacy program at the Pittsburgh-based Abdominal Transplant Institute at Allegheny
Health Network. He also serves as the Chair for the Cavasina Endowment for
Transplant and Research and is currently conducting research regarding psychological
issues involved with transplantation.
“Without the hands-on education received at WVU, I would have not achieved the successes that I had in my career. As a faculty member during advisement, I recommended my students take courses and attend graduate school at WVU and today, I support WVU through endowments,” said Cavasina. “The WVU experience shapes students to go out into the world and tackle any problem. In my opinion, West Virginia University is one of the best kept secrets among other top research universities and I want to do anything I can to expand the WVU name and mission.”
Cavasina was the recipient of the Jasper N. Deahl Award at CEHS in 2014 and an inductee of the 2016 CEHS Hall of Fame.
The WVU Foundation, in partnership with the University, is currently conducting A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December 2017.