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Leadership Program Fellows Welcomed

By Daniel Friend
Shepherdstown Chronicle staff

Some Shepherd University students had the benefit of counsel from a retired four-star U.S. Air Force general last week. Robert H. "Doc" Foglesong — founder, president and CEO of the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation — greeted his newest recruits during a talk at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Shepherdstown.

"In my view, this is a fundamental time in our nation's history," Foglesong told ALEF fellows. He said the current energy and financial crises and wars abroad have created a "perfect storm" that makes electing the next president a crucial decision for every voter. He calls himself "apolitical" and encourages ALEF's fellows to "listen very carefully to what the candidates are saying" before voting in November.

The Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation & Centers for Excellence were founded in 2006 after Foglesong retired from the military. The northern Center for Excellence is based on Shepherd's campus. The foundation seeks candidates to attend the Centers for Excellence who earn an academic education under a full scholarship while learning character development and leadership. Students already enrolled in college also
participate.

Foglesong encouraged ALEF fellows to consider the economic and energy challenges the country now faces and how they can be overcome. At West Virginia University, Foglesong earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1968, a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1969 and a Doctor of Philosophy in chemical engineeringin 1971.

"We need an energy strategy and the courage to pull the trigger on it," Foglesong said. Congress turned its back on the current U.S. energy crisis by failing to reach a compromise and produce results, instead taking a
38-day vacation, he said.

The United States must capitalize on the natural resources we have instead of focusing on ways to find more oil, said Foglesong. (He drives a hybrid automobile.) Natural gas, coal, solar, and nuclear energy sources need to be tapped, he said.

West Virginia should steer clean coal and gas initiatives, he said. "We ought to be in the lead for determining the best way to use coal and natural gas," Foglesong said. With about a fourth of the world's coal reserves, the United States shouldn't be relying so heavily on foreign fuel sources, he said. "We are the Saudi Arabia of coal."

"I believe that West Virginia ought to be the leading proponent of research (and) development," Foglesong said. "I think that's our future. And, by the way, what all that does is bring jobs to the State of West Virginia.

We have an ideal opportunity, I believe, to step into the breach right now."
ALEF fellows now enrolled at Shepherd include Anthony Bellissimo, Chelsea Tipton, Sarah Crickenberger, Darrell Johnson, Jeremy Brock, Westley Jenkins, Brittany Kirkpatrick, Alex Lemley, Robert McDonough and Jonelle Westbrook.
ALEF's primary goal is to give less fortunate West Virginia high school graduates a leg up to ultimately run businesses in the Mountain State. The program now has 45 participants at Concord, Marshall and Shepherd universities. Students have logged more than 3,000 hours of community service and talked to some 2,500 K-12 students.

The Centers for Excellence are small enough so that each participant can be mentored and receive one-on-one instruction, Foglesong said, noting the attrition rate for the program is "zero." That's compared to the typical 25 to 30 percent attrition rate at most land grant schools. "The system works to keep these young men and women focused," he said.

Foglesong, a Mingo County native, was commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Northern Europe and air component commander at the U.S. European Command in Ramstein Airbase in Germany.

Foglesong earned his wings at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss. His aviation career includes more than 4,400 flying hours, primarily in fighter and training assignments in the F-16, F-15, A-10 and AT/T-38. He has been a commander six times. His staff tours include duty as Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, D.C; Commander, 12th Air Force; Commander, U.S. Southern Command Air Forces; Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations and Vice Chief of Staff at Headquarters U.S. Air Force. — Recruitment has begun for the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation's 2009 academic year.

On Oct. 15, the new scholarship application goes online at www.alefwv.com Or contact the Foundation at P.O. Box 1307, Charleston WV 25325 or 1 (800) 540-2533.