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Dr. Richard Rafes, president of East Central University, announced today [Nov. 20] that he has been selected as the new president of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (WVSOM) in Lewisburg, W.V.

He will assume his new position Feb. 1, 2009.

"Once I was offered the position, I have had to balance my strong personal and professional commitment to ECU and Ada against an opportunity that I did not seek nor anticipate, but would fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a president of a prestigious medical school," said Rafes, who came to ECU July 1, 2006.

"It was one of the toughest decisions we have ever made, but in the end, the close proximity to Tommye's aging parents and her sister was the deciding factor in our decision to accept the new position.

"Tommye and I are so proud of the many advances ECU has made over the past two and one half years and we greatly admire our faculty, staff and students. We appreciate our many friends on campus and in the community. Our experience here in Ada will be one we treasure forever," he added.

Joe Anna Hibler, chair of the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, said, "Richard Rafes has made remarkable improvements at ECU during his presidency. Although he will be missed, the regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma join me in wishing him well in his new position."

During his presidency he has overseen the expansion of academic programs, enhancement of student development and improvements in athletic facilities. The university has made important strides in community advancements including the development of the Arts District of Ada, Centennial Plaza, Centennial Fountain and the near completion of the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center.

ECU has also experienced significant growth in fundraising and grant awards. According to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ECU is one of the top recipients of grant awards for comparable universities in the nation.

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