Alumni Spotlight: Frank Vitale

EMBA grad helps vets, undergrads

Frank Vitale is happy to help. He received an Executive MBA degree from the College of Business and Economics in 2010 and has been busier than ever since then. He is teaching an undergraduate class in professional development at B&E and business finance for students in the WVU School of Medicine and School of Dentistry.

Plus, in the same year he received his EMBA degree, he helped develop Vetconnection.org to aid returning veterans and their families in building new lives after military service. It focuses on resources for education, health care and employment opportunities.

"I think it's important to give back to the community, especially in response to what the community gives to you," he said, "particularly when being a part of the community is your business. I really do believe strongly in giving back."

Vitale is from Alloway, N.J., and is the first in his family to earn a college degree. He met his wife, Ashley, at WVU, and they decided to stay in Morgantown after graduation. Today they have a son, Maxwell, 4; and twin daughters, Isabella and Cecelia, who just celebrated their first birthday.

He financed most of his undergraduate education by putting on the uniform of the U.S. Army. He joined the Army Reserves in 1991 and later the West Virginia Army National Guard, and it changed his life.

"Being in the military has been the greatest adventure of my life," he said. "I've had wonderful leadership opportunities and had the chance to meet some of the world's greatest military leaders, who believe in selfless service, sacrifice, dedication and making the world a better place." He left the military in 2008 as a captain and senior training instructor for the Officer Candidate School of the West Virginia Army National Guard.

Vitale earned a bachelor's degree in sociology with a minor in public policy and administration at WVU in 1996 and then served as the regional human resources director and later executive director for a nationally owned long-term care company from 1997 to 2002.

That experience led to a post as vice president of human resources for Centra Bank and later vice president of Executive Banking from 2002-09.

Today he is a senior vice president at Clear Mountain Bank in Morgantown, where he leads the Private Banking Group. In 2011 the State Journal chose Vitale as one of the state's young, shining stars in 'Generation Next – 40 Under 40'.

In addition, Vitale serves West Virginia University as chairman of the College of Business and Economics MBA Advisory Board and as a member of the visiting committees for the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Pharmacy.

Vitale, who received an associate's degree from Valley Forge Military College in 1994, has received numerous military acclamations, most recently the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal with the Oak Leaf Cluster.

He said his work with Vetconnection.org helps him stay connected to the military, an organization that "helped make me a better person."

At B&E, Vitale helps students prepare for professional life. Many have a lot to learn, he said. "I try to show them how the real world of business works — not something embedded in a textbook, but from experience. I go over the good, the bad and the ugly. I've found that there is very little understanding in juniors and seniors of what they will face in the real world of business."

Many students have great potential, but they need serious preparation for the current employment environment, he said. And it's a situation that he believes isn't getting a lot easier.

"It's actually getting tougher," Vitale said. "Companies are working leaner now and have learned how to operate more efficiently, after cutting back during the recession."

Nevertheless, students who have worked hard and prepared shouldn't be too worried. "Students who have done well in school, who have participated in internships, who have worked hard should do fine. For those who didn't, there may be a long line in front of them."

In addition to his banking profession and teaching responsibilities, Vitale has served as the chairman of the United Way, chairman and commissioner of the Monongalia County Deputy Sheriff's Civil Service Commission and board member and vice chairman of the Morgantown Area Chamber of Commerce.