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Rudy Almasy Inducted to WVU's Order of Vandalia

Photo of Rudy Almasy with his family

Dean Emeritus of the Eberly College and Emeritus Professor of English Dr. Rudolph P. Almasy, a recognized scholar, student-centered teacher and wise administrator, has been inducted into West Virginia University’s Order of Vandalia.   

“I am grateful indeed in joining such a productive and loyal group of individuals who have served WVU in extraordinary ways,” Almasy said.  

The Order of Vandalia recognition is West Virginia University’s highest honor for service to the institution. It dates back to 1960 when Elvis J. Stahr, then president of West Virginia University, outlined his idea for a special honor bestowed upon the most loyal servants of West Virginia University. 

Dean Almasy's career spanned 46 years at WVU. His roles included educator, scholar, mentor, administrator, leader and ambassador. In those roles, he has positively impacted thousands of students, faculty, alumni and citizens of West Virginia. 

“This award will recognize what his friends and colleagues all know: Rudy’s dedication to WVU and his hard work and service to its constituents were exemplary and outstanding in every respect,” WVU President Emeritus David C. Hardesty said during his remarks at the Order of Vandalia Induction Ceremony on June 3. 

In the words of one of his nominators,

"Rudy remained engaged as an active participant throughout his career, giving of himself, his time and intellectual insight, to the betterment of others, whether colleagues within or beyond the University. His service contributions highlight his willingness to reach out and share his talents broadly with others."

Almasy came to West Virginia University from the University of Minnesota in August of 1969 to serve as an instructor in the English Department. He earned a BA in English from MacMurray College and an MA in English from the University of Minnesota. While at WVU, he completed his PhD at Minnesota, specializing in English Renaissance Literature. Almasy published throughout his career, especially focusing on rhetorical and discursive practices in Sixteenth Century English prose. He was an author of dozens of book chapters and published articles, many in refereed journals. He wrote book reviews regularly, presented papers to professional societies and explored the life and times of his favorite subject, Elizabethan theologian Richard Hooker.

He taught 26 different courses at WVU, served on departmental, college and campus wide committees and study groups and frequently spoke to various university groups and public gatherings. His excellence in academics and teaching positioned him to mentor new faculty members and administrators – he was appointed assistant chair of the English department and went on to serve as chair for ten years.

While in the English Department, Almasy directed the Writing Lab, designed a PSI approach to teaching Business Writing, served as co-director of WVU’s Language Arts Camps and was instrumental in helping to redesign the English Education curriculum.  Later, he developed one of the first online courses at WVU, Fiction for Adolescents.

He received the Sigma Tau Delta Outstanding Teacher Award in English in 1986. 

In 1994, Almasy was appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Eberly College. He served Eberly four times as interim dean and also as Associate Dean for College Development. He also served as interim dean of the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design.  

One of his nominators wrote:

"Rudy's outstanding leadership skills, captivating personality, and loyalty to the university developed a following of university students and faculty who supported and admired him. His generous nature led to several endowments at the university supported by him and his many admirers. It is important to note that, although Rudy could have retired several times, when he was called back into service, by different university leaders, he always agreed to serve because of his devotion to WVU."

Dean Almasy’s connection with WVU runs deep. His father-in-law, Dr. Laszlo Borsay, was a professor in the Department of Foreign Languages. Five Borsay children hold degrees from WVU, including Rudy’s wife, Helen E. Almasy, who earned both a B.A. and M.S. Helen served as a nurse at the WVU Hospitals and at Mon General Hospital, and then in many leadership positions at Mon General.

“My extended family has been deeply connected to WVU in various ways for three generations, and it was wonderful being part of these connections and able to teach and serve in different capacities in helping WVU move forward towards its goals as the major university of the State of West Virginia,” said Dean Almasy. He added, “I’m especially delighted that my daughter Sara graduated from Eberly in 2000. There are also six nieces and nephews with Eberly degrees.”

To honor his wife’s memory, he created an endowment in 2021 to help further leadership opportunities and career-advancing experiences for women. The Helen E. Almasy Academic Enrichment award supports the academic enrichment of undergraduate and graduate female students in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences while also recognizing, encouraging and supporting their leadership, mentoring and management skills.

Throughout his career, Dean Almasy has given substantially to Eberly College and the University. To date, he has made over 500 gifts spread across 15 units at WVU.

Dean Dunaway and his wife on either side of Dean AlmasyHis personality combined with a deep love of Eberly College and WVU made him, according to Dean Gregory Dunaway, a natural in attracting and engaging alumni and friends to invest in students, faculty, and programs.

“As the most recent Dean of Eberly, I am reminded daily of Professor and Dean Almasy's  contributions and how they have formed a solid and sturdy foundation on which the Eberly  College can continue to grow. One area that I am particularly grateful for is Dean Almasy's  excellent work in development. Through his careful cultivation and stewardship, we have reaped wildly important investments and they continue to pay dividends for our College and Institution.”

Another nominator wrote:

"When Rudy travels, even now in retirement, he makes opportunities to check in with College alumni and friends, with whom he is always able to find a point of shared WVU experience and affinity. He is never not representing West Virginia University."

Dean Almasy retired from the university in 2015 as Emeritus Professor of English and Dean Emeritus of the Eberly College. His favorite thing about Eberly College is its diversity of students, staff, faculty and departmental programs.   

“It’s a great world of education,” he said, “And I have been excited to be among Eberly’s diversity.”

In his acceptance speech on June 3, Dean Almasy thanked those who helped him along his way: Judith Stitzel, Elaine Ginsberg, Jerry Lang, C.B. Wilson, Provosts Wheatley and McConnell, as well as people like Dean Dunaway, who supported his nomination for the Order of Vandalia.

To reflect upon his life’s work and his time at West Virginia University, Dean Almasy drew from Dr. Suess’ Oh the Places You’ll Go.

“And so for 46 years I went a lot of places at this university and did a lot of things, and I now realize that I had gotten myself into a wonderful university…”Almasy said, quoting in part from Dr. Suess, “Life is a matter of a journey, up and down, here and there, through which I found my success that lies both within and beyond.”