- The AI has as its mission to serve as a center of research and analysis, education and action attuned always to the struggles and dreams of the Appalachian people. In focusing on contemporary Appalachian challenges and opportunities, it uses a unique set of resources, including religious leaders, community organizers, academic experts, and students, and its reputation of a facilitator of dialog on contentious issues. With these tools the Appalachia Institute seeks to create safer, healthier, and stronger communities in the central Appalachian region and beyond. Reflecting the values of its culture and the values and ethics embodied in the Appalachian Bishops' pastoral letters, the Institute joins in the region’s work of building a sustainable and promising future.
The Appalachian Institute at WJU is named to honor Rev. Clifford M. Lewis, the first Jesuit to reside in Wheeling in 1953. Two years earlier, at the request of Bishop John Swint, Fr. Lewis initiated a two-year feasibility study which led to the founding of Wheeling College.
An area native, Fr. Clifford M. Lewis dreamed of an institution that would "provide independent enlightenment to tomorrow's problems." His dream lives on in the Appalachian Institute, which derives its inspiration from, and is guided by, This Land is Home to Me, the pastoral message from the Catholic Bishops of the Appalachian region.
- The Institute's goal is to build healthier and stronger communities through a variety of awareness to action programs such as experiential learning, research, forums, presentations, service and advocacy. The Institute primarily focuses on programs related to Water Quality, Energy Choices and Public Health issues.
- The Institute's vision is of an Appalachian region where all have an opportunity to flourish, to sustain and expand their livelihood and to pass on the riches and beauty of the region to future generations.