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WVU patron Milan Puskar dies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Milan "Mike" Puskar, co-founder of the third-largest generic pharmaceuticals company in the world and longtime donor to West Virginia University, died Friday at age 77.

Puskar died at 8:30 p.m. in Morgantown after a battle with cancer, said Steve Lorenze, his business partner.

In 1961, Puskar co-founded Mylan Laboratories Inc. in Morgantown. The company began as a distributor, buying finished goods and reselling them to pharmacies and physicians. In 1966, it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manufacture its first medicine, Penicillin G. Mylan now is a Fortune 500 company with headquarters in Canonsburg, Pa. By 2001, it had earned more than $1 billion.

When Puskar stepped down as chairman of the company in 2009, Mylan was worth more than $3.5 billion, according to its website.

Puskar was a longtime donor to WVU and a Mountaineer athletics fan. The WVU football stadium and facilities buildings are named in his honor.

His largest gift was a $20 million contribution to the WVU Foundation's Building Greatness campaign in 2003. He has the distinction of making the largest one-time cash gift in the foundation's history, according to a news release from the university.

About $14.5 million of that donation went to WVU's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for endowed athletic scholarships and facilities upgrades. Another $5.5 million went toward academics, to establish the Puskar Leadership Scholars in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Milan Puskar Presidential Chair and the Milan Puskar Deanship in the College of Business and Economics.

Additionally, during Puskar's tenure as chairman of Mylan's board of directors, the company gave more than $6 million to the WVU Foundation.

Puskar received an honorary doctorate from WVU in 2000, and was inducted into WVU's Order of Vandalia in 2003, an honor given in recognition of extraordinary service to the university.

WVU President James P. Clements released a statement Friday night thanking Puskar for his support of athletics and cancer research.

"Milan 'Mike' Puskar was just a tremendous person -- generous, humble and very kind. Because of his success in the business world, he was able to help so many others, and he took great pride and care in his generosity to West Virginia University," Clements stated. "His gifts came in the form of scholarships for students, funds for WVU athletics, support for cancer research and many other endeavors. We will miss his presence at ballgames and in our community, but his mark will be permanently left behind in our hearts and on our campus."

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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