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Our History

The Regional Research Institute opened on September 1, 1965. Professor William H. Miernyk, a regional economist trained at Harvard, came to West Virginia University as founding Director. His pioneering research on input-output modeling rapidly brought the Institute international prominence in regional economics and the new multidisciplinary field of regional science. The orientation he established is at the heart of the Institute today:

The Regional Research Institute exists for scholarly research. Scholars define the research projects, and scholars evaluate the proposals and results. The overall objective is to increase knowledge through publication of journal articles and books. Graduate students are an integral part of the Institute. As their educations progress, so do their roles on research projects. They learn research skills, conduct and publish research, and present papers at conferences in the U.S. and worldwide. The scope of the Institute extends beyond the economic and social problems of Appalachia to similar regions elsewhere. It incorporates an enduring focus on quantitative methods for studying regions and evaluating policy directions. The Institute encourages and nurtures international and multidisciplinary research. It organizes conferences and seminars, initiates research activities, creates research opportunities abroad, and hosts visiting scholars.

For over 50 years, the Regional Research Institute has helped scholars do research. For numerous individuals, both at West Virginia University and elsewhere, it has provided crucial encouragement, stimulation, and opportunities. Its programs involve faculty members, graduate students, and an extensive network of scholars in the United States and abroad.


Temporary quarters in the Wise Library and the Willey Street Annex, 1965-1976 

Orange brick house at 511 North High Street (the Glasscock House), 1976-2007 

University Services Center (Prete), Evansdale campus, May, 2007- June, 2009 

5th floor of the Chestnut Ridge Research Building, Evansdale campus, July 2009-Present


William H. Miernyk, 1965-1983 
Robert Saunders, Acting Director, 1969-1970 
Patrick C. Mann, Interim, 1983-1984 
Andrew M. Isserman, 1985-1997 
Brian J. Cushing, Acting Director, 1991 
Luc Anselin, Interim Director, 1997-1998 
Scott Loveridge, 1999-2000 
Ronald L. Lewis, Interim Director, 2000-2001 
Randall W. Jackson, Director, 2001-2022
Heather Stephens, Director, 2023-Present


Two faculty positions were created at the RRI in 1985. They are non-tenure track, two-to-three year appointments for recent Ph.D.s capable of becoming leading scholars. The research assistant professors conduct their own research, participate in joining research projects, and generally teach one course per year.

Paul M. Beaumont, 1985-1987 
Robert Walker, 1985-1987 
Mary Beth Pudup, 1986-1989 
Philip Shapira, 1988-1990 
Carla Dickstein, 1988-1990 
Stephen Fournier, 1991-1993 
Terance Rephann, 1993-1994 
Stephan Weiler, 1994-1996 
Cynthia Rogers, 1994-1997 
Emily Talen, 1995-1998 
Attila Varga, 1997-1998 
Oleg Smirnov, 1998 
Ge Lin, 2000-2005 
Randall Rosenberger, 2000-2002 
Shaoming Cheng, 2006-2008 
Gianfranco Piras, 2010-2014 
Péter Járosi, 2015-2022


One faculty-equivalent position was created in 2002. These individuals are non-tenure track, three-year appointments for more senior Ph.D. researchers capable of becoming leading scholars. The research associates conduct their own research, participate in RRI research projects, and contribute to instruction by committee participation, teaching course modules, and presenting guest lectures and seminars.

Yasuhide Okuyama, 2002-2005
Hodjat Ghadimi, 2005-2010


This is a tenured, joint position; 50 percent of the appointment is with the RRI, 25 percent of the appointment is with Agricultural and Resource Economics and 25 percent of the appointment is with Economics.

Donald J. Lacombe, 2010-2016

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