Skip to main content

'Most Loyals' chosen for Mountaineer Week at WVU

A photo containing the portrait of both Melissa Morris and of Woody Thrasher

Melissa Morris and Woody Thrasher


A respected community leader, a successful businessman, an accomplished educator and a dedicated employee with Facilities Management are being honored as "Most Loyals" during the 68th annual Mountaineer Week, a celebration of Appalachian Heritage, Oct. 30 - Nov. 8, on West Virginia University's campus.

The 2014 honorees are Mike Ross, Most Loyal West Virginian; Woody Thrasher, Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer; Melissa Morris, Most Loyal Faculty/Professional Staff Mountaineer; and Joe Dennis, Most Loyal Classified Staff Mountaineer. The group will be honored during halftime ceremonies of Saturday's (Nov. 7) WVU-Texas Tech football game.

The award recipients are selected by a joint committee representing the WVU  Foundation, WVU  Alumni Association and the Mountaineer Week organizing committee.

Most Loyal West Virginian
The Most Loyal West Virginian exemplifies faithfulness to the ideals and goals of the state of West Virginia through business, professional and civic achievement as well as support for WVU.

Mike Ross is president of Ross & Wharton Gas Company and chairman of the board of Mike Ross, Inc. He also is president of Braxton Oil & Gas Company.

In 1992, he was elected to represent the 15th District in the West Virginia Senate. During his 12 years in office, he served as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure, Rule-Making and various other committees. In 2009, Ross was appointed by then-Gov. Joe Manchin to fill a vacancy in the West Virginia House of Delegates 37th District.

Ross is well known for his volunteerism and philanthropy. In 2010, he made a generous gift to WVU  Children's Hospital and the WVU  Department of Pediatrics to help the University's efforts to combat pediatric diabetes.

Ross was honored by the Boy Scouts of America in 2010 with the Distinguished Citizen Award, and was elected to the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2013.

Ross and wife, Joann, reside in Coalton, W.Va.

Most Loyal Alumni
The Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer exemplifies faithfulness to the ideas and goals of the University and exhibits support for WVU activities and operations through leadership and service.

Woody Thrasher is president of Thrasher Group, a leading mid-Atlantic civil and environmental consulting engineering firm.

A highly successful engineer and businessman, Thrasher graduated from WVU in 1977 with a degree in  civil engineering.

He is a past president of the West Virginia American Council of Engineering Companies and the West Virginia Society of Professional Engineers. In 2000, Thrasher was named "Entrepreneur of the Year" by the national professional services firm of Ernst and Young.

Thrasher remains very active with this alma mater. In 2012, he was elected to the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors, and currently serves as its vice chairman. He is a distinguished alumnus of the  Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and has been active on various committees within the College. He also has served as an officer or on the board of directors for numerous civic and charitable organizations.

Thrasher, of Clarksburg, has three sons, Cody, Austin and Caelin.

Most Loyal Faculty/Professional Staff and Classified Staff Mountaineers
The Most Loyal Faculty/Professional Staff and Classified Staff Mountaineers exemplify faithfulness to the ideals and goals of WVU and exhibit support for University activities and operations through leadership and service.

Melissa Morris is a teaching assistant professor and academic advisor in WVU's Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources where she works with freshmen students.

Morris earned her bachelor's and master's degrees as well as her doctorate from WVU in  mechanical engineering. She serves as chief advisor for WVU's Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honorary. Morris also serves as the faculty advisor for the professional and social engineering society, Alpha Omega Epsilon, WVU Club Paintball, and WVU eSports.

Morris is a past recipient of the WVU Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the Nicholas Evans Award for Advising Excellence. In 2012, she was named Statler College Teacher of the Year and John R. Williams Outstanding Teacher. Earlier this year, she was named as an outstanding advisor in the Statler College.

Morris resides in Morgantown.

Joe Dennis has more than 25 years of service to WVU, currently serving as a Maintenance Worker II in WVU's  Facilities Management.

Dennis is a familiar face at Blaney House, home of WVU's president, where he has served for many years in a maintenance and support role.

He began working at the University in the roads and grounds department, moving to Blaney House in 1995.

Dennis and wife Jodi live in Morgantown with their daughter, Rachel.



For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources:


Phone contacts:
College Relations office: 304-293-4086
Office of the Dean: 304-293-4157
Other College administrative and department offices: Administration