CONSOL Energy is investing in its future with a gift to scholarships at Bluefield College.
CONSOL Senior Vice President Michael Onifer presented a $5,000 check to Bluefield College President David Olive during a visit to the BC campus, Thursday, June 16. While designated for scholarships, Onifer said the contribution is more than just added financial aid for Bluefield students.
“This is an investment in our future,” said Onifer, who manages operations for CONSOL Energy’s CNX Gas. “CONSOL prides itself on being a part of the community, so we want to see local students graduate from college. And, if we can get those folks to go to school here in Southwest Virginia and stay here, then that’s what this gift to Bluefield College is all about — providing opportunities for students to further their education and to have an opportunity to apply for jobs with our organization.”
The CONSOL gift is designed specifically for five $1,000 scholarships for the 2011-12 academic year for students from Buchanan or Tazewell counties in Virginia, which are counties where CONSOL Energy has the majority of its coal and gas operations in the Commonwealth. Students from other coalfield counties in southwest Virginia, including Dickenson, Russell, Wise, Lee and Scott, will also be given consideration.
“Our core values are safety, compliance and continuous improvement, and continuous improvement is what we’re doing with this investment today,” said Onifer, who attended Bluefield College before finishing his engineering studies at Virginia Tech. “Bluefield College is a great institution, and if we can soon have graduates from the college qualified to apply for local positions with CONSOL, then we’ve received a good return on our investment in the college and its students.”
Students selected for the scholarship awards must also be pursuing a degree in a math or science-related field at BC. No financial need requirements are tied to the scholarship, just the major of study and counties of residence restrictions.
“CONSOL’s scholarship gift will help local students with the burden of tuition, which is one of our goals at Bluefield College,” said BC’s Annette Tabor, associate vice president for advancement. “More than 90 percent of our students receive some form of financial aid, and we greatly depend on and appreciate gifts like this from CONSOL to help meet that need.”
CONSOL’s support of Bluefield College dates back a quarter of a century and includes gifts to scholarships and capital campaigns. This most recent contribution said Dr. Olive is one that will directly benefit students.
“We are grateful for CONSOL’s commitment to students in southwest Virginia and their educations,” Dr. Olive said, “and we are most appreciative that CONSOL recognizes the important role that Bluefield College plays in educating and preparing tomorrow’s workforce and impacting the region’s economy.”