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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd had a "special place in his heart" for Morris Harvey College and helped the campus blossom over his years in the U.S. Senate, said University of Charleston President Ed Welch.
Byrd was instrumental in launching UC's new school of pharmacy, which bears his name, and steering funds toward renovations at Riggleman Hall, Welch said. The late senator took classes at UC when it was named Morris Harvey.
Byrd, a chairman for several years of the powerful Senate appropriations committee, couldn't always promise federal funding for projects right away, Welch said. He might tell UC officials that it would depend on the next congressional budget.
"But for the school of pharmacy, it was, 'Yes, let's do it,'" Welch said.
Byrd has guided significant federal dollars toward highways, bridges, buildings and other infrastructure in the state, but always paid close attention to West Virginia's colleges and universities.
In a statement Monday, state Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Brian Noland said, "His countless contributions have reached every facet of West Virginia, and postsecondary education is certainly no exception. From lasting education facilities, outstanding scholarship opportunities and vital higher education legislation, his impact will be felt by generations of West Virginians to come."
G.T. "Buck" Smith, president at Davis & Elkins College, said Byrd balanced his attention and sought funding for both public and private colleges.
"He very much believed in private enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit," Smith said. "He knew very clearly that a strong America and a strong economy relied both on the private and public sector."
Facilities at private schools such as Davis & Elkins, Alderson-Broaddus College, Bethany College and UC bear Byrd's name.
Byrd secured federal money to build the Robert C. Byrd Center for Hospitality and Tourism and to renovate the Graceland Inn, the 19th-century home of U.S. Sen. Henry Gassaway Davis in Elkins.
In turn, the conference center next door to the Graceland Inn was named in his honor, Smith said.
Still, public schools also felt Byrd's significant impact, as measured by the centers for biotechnology, academics and technology and rural health named after him at Marshall University and the sizable health sciences center and cancer research laboratory at West Virginia University.
In the Eastern Panhandle, Byrd had developed a good relationship with the past few presidents at Shepherd University.