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WVU inducts International Studies founder into Order of Vandalia

In recognition of her loyalty and service to West Virginia University, Eberly College Professor Emerita Sophia Peterson has been inducted into The Order of Vandalia.

Black and white photo of a woman with short curly hair wearing a black suite and white blouse.

Dr. Peterson joined the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences’ faculty in 1966 as a part-time instructor in Political Science. She was the first recipient of Eberly College’s Outstanding Public Service Award and received the College’s Outstanding Teacher Award twice. She also received the WVU Foundation’s Outstanding Teacher Award, the Heebink Award for Distinguished State Service and the Mary Catherine Buswell Award in recognition of her service to women at WVU.

During her tenure at WVU, she conducted research on international relations, US foreign policy, international conflict and global issues. This research brought in over $1 million in federal, international, state and University grants.

She also founded and directed Eberly College’s International Studies major.

One of Dr. Peterson’s signature achievements was the founding of the West Virginia Consortium for Faculty & Course Development in International Studies (FACDIS). This consortium of 19 West Virginia higher education institutions, with over 325 participating faculty from over 75 disciplines, provided teachers across the state resources to better educate their students on global affairs. She served as the program’s leader until her retirement in 1997.After arriving in Morgantown in 1966, she became a fierce advocate for African American residents of the city. She fought for a more just an inclusive community by organizing boycotts of establishments who refused to admit African Americans. On the very first West Virginia Civil Rights Day, nearly 40 years later, she and her husband Virgil were honored for such contributions to their community and state.

Photograph of the medallion given to Order of Vandalia inductees at WVU. The gold medallion features iconic buildings on campus

The Order of Vandalia dates back to 1960 when WVU President Elvis J. Stahr outlined his idea for a special honor to be bestowed on the University’s most dedicated stewards. The University inducted 5 other Mountaineers into the order this year—Patricia Bibbee, Sue Day-Perroots, Mike Fulton, Ranjit K. Majumder, and Robert Orders.