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The Marshall University Foundation today announced that Marshall Rises, the largest and most ambitious fundraising campaign in Marshall University history, has raised more than $176 million in support of the university.

More than 50,000 gifts were recorded during the campaign spread across 1,300 different designations at the university, ensuring that a wide range of programs and projects were directly touched by the campaign.

Marshall Rises publicly launched in October 2019 with a goal of raising $150 million, after having already secured more than $100 million during the quiet phase that began July 2016. By May 2021, the campaign reached its $150 million target, eventually topping $176 million when the campaign formally concluded earlier this year.

The conclusion of the campaign is being celebrated throughout the week on campus during the larger Thank A Donor Days celebration honoring those who make an impact at Marshall through giving.

“Marshall Rises has been a game-changer for Marshall University, the surrounding region and the state of West Virginia. Through this campaign, we have been able to touch so many different areas of campus, from the incredible programs offered, to the buildings and classrooms, to the students within those walls, and it is all thanks to the generous support of our dedicated and loyal Marshall family,” said Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall Foundation. “Working side-by-side with the university, we set a goal to raise $150 million nearly six years ago to help Marshall rise to new heights and we have surpassed that goal ahead of schedule. Through this campaign, we are helping take Marshall University to the next level as a leading institution of innovation and discovery.”

The impact of Marshall Rises is found in five pillars for success chosen to represent the most important facets of Marshall University. The campaign was to enhance the student experience; expand academics and grow the university’s reputation; create an environment of innovative learning; form a foundation of research and creative discovery; and deepen community partnerships.

The five pillars of progress ensure that students at Marshall will graduate from one of the nation’s most distinguished and dynamic universities.

“The Marshall University community celebrates the fantastic success of Marshall Rises, which is propelling our institution forward,” said Marshall President Brad D. Smith. “I want to commend Ron Area and everyone at the foundation who worked so diligently, through a pandemic no less, to ensure our students and university are provided the necessary funding for the future. And for everyone who contributed to the effort, we appreciate you.”


One of the areas most directly impacted by this campaign is student support, with more than 500 additional students receiving scholarship aid annually than before the start of the campaign. In total, scholarship aid increased by 44% during Marshall Rises, with $5 million in scholarship aid awarded annually over the past three years.

The campaign also generated an unprecedented response from the alumni community and supporters of the university, with one-third of all gifts given during the campaign generated by first-time donors. The university also saw a strong outpouring of support from the campus community, with gifts from Marshall faculty and staff nearly doubling over the past six years.

Marshall’s endowment, an important source of funding designated for specific purposes according to donor intent, grew dramatically during Marshall Rises. Prior to the campaign, the endowment value stood at $110 million. As of the conclusion of the campaign, the endowment was $205 million, an 86% increase.

Donors were able to make an impact through a variety of giving programs at the university including the annual fund, a yearly giving program targeting various areas of need, the Family Campaign, encouraging giving among faculty and staff, and planned giving for benefactors documenting gifts through wills and estate planning intentions.

“The support we have seen from alumni, faculty, staff and community supporters of Marshall during Marshall Rises has been unprecedented. It shows that the Marshall community cares deeply about the future of this university as a prosperity platform for the underserved,” said Joe Allwood, COO at the Marshall Foundation. “Through this campaign, we have been able to help more students than ever before reach their full potential through scholarship aid and financial support. We have felt the impact on campus, with major renovations to existing facilities, as well as the construction of new centers for learning. This is truly an exciting time to be a part of this university and I am already looking forward to our next chapter to further build upon this success.”

Through Marshall Rises, life-changing and cutting-edge research has expanded thanks to increased philanthropic support of faculty research in elevating Marshall’s reputation as a student focused R2 research university.

Over the past six years the university has also seen more in-demand programs for students and state-of-the-art facilities being erected like the Bill Noe Flight School and the Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation.

With a goal to impact the lives of more students, to improve the community and the alumni within it, and make a positive mark on the world through action, Marshall Rises has set the stage for a future of endless possibilities.

And the transformational level of support of Marshall Rises ensures that the university will continue to be impacted by this campaign for years to come.

“I am proud and honored to be a part of this university during this unique and special moment in its history,” Area said. “This campaign was just the beginning; we already have plans in the works for bigger and better things in the very near future. After what I saw from this campaign, I believe that together, we can achieve anything at Marshall.”

The Thrasher Group recently established the Thrasher Group Scholarship to support Marshall University students in the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Recipients will be West Virginia residents who are in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or higher and have financial need, per the standards of the Office of Student Financial Assistance. The award is non-renewable with only one recipient a year.

“So many of our employees are West Virginia educated, and we are really proud of that. This is just another way for us to help feed that talent pipeline here at home,” said Jenny Weaver, human resources director at the Thrasher Group.

Thrasher Group officials say they are proud of its collaborative efforts with Marshall. In 2019, the group established the Phillip G. Simmons Scholarship, which was generously funded by Simmons’ friends and coworkers at the Thrasher Group. This scholarship benefits students from Braxton County High School in Braxton County, West Virginia, with preference to students who are incoming freshmen and studying in Marshall’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences.

“West Virginia is so special, and anyone who has ever spent time here understands what I mean by that,” “said Woody Thrasher, president and founder of the Thrasher Group. “I don’t just mean the natural beauty of our state, I mean the people. West Virginians are bright, they are innovative, and they are perseverant–some of the many reasons I feel so passionate about these scholarships with Marshall University,

The Marshall Foundation maximizes continuous financial support for Marshall University and its students by soliciting, receiving, investing and administering private gift support. The Marshall Foundation is committed to providing professional service to Marshall University, its students and donors.

The Thrasher Group is a full-service consulting firm that has served clients in West Virginia for nearly four decades. With offices in Bridgeport, Charleston, Beckley, Scott Depot, Martinsburg and beyond, Thrasher employs hundreds of professionals throughout West Virginia and the greater mid-Atlantic region. For more information, visit their website at

For information regarding the Thrasher Group Scholarship and the Phillip G. Simmons Scholarship, please contact Marshall University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance at 304-696-3162.

The Marshall University Foundation has announced that Jenkins Fenstermaker PLLC has pledged a gift of $75,000 in support of the new Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation at Marshall University.

The facility, which is to be built in the 1400 block of Fourth Avenue and is scheduled to open in January of 2024, will serve as an economic hub in the region while bolstering business connections among area professionals. Marshall students will have access to a first-class education in a dynamic environment that will enhance and encourage various types of learning and collaboration.

“As part of this community for almost 100 years, we are proud to support the Marshall University Lewis College of Business, the premier training ground for future business leaders and innovators in our community and beyond,” said Steven Wellman, managing member for Jenkins Fenstermaker. “Many of our attorneys and staff attended Marshall University, and we are excited to play a small part in the future growth and success of the Lewis College of Business. We believe that our partnership with Marshall University will benefit both institutions for many years to come.”

The facility, expected to be 77,000 gross square feet, will house classroom space, a forum and auditorium, computer and science labs, office space, meeting rooms and study spaces for students.

The gift pledged by Jenkins Fenstermaker will support the Leadership Lounge in the new building. The Leadership Lounge is part of the Truist Center for Leadership. The Truist Center for Leadership empowers students through training, workshops and networking opportunities while also developing the next generation of leaders.

“As a business attorney that is passionate about economic development, I have always recognized the importance of Marshall University and its business school to our region,” said Stephen Golder, member for Jenkins Fenstermaker. “The new facility for the Lewis College of Business will be a game-changer for our downtown and for Marshall University. Witnessing progress spearheaded by the Marshall team is exciting for our team to participate in.”

Jenkins Fenstermaker, with offices in Huntington and Clarksburg, West Virginia, provides representation in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. The firm celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023. Clients can find experienced, accomplished attorneys dedicated to quality, detail-oriented representation in business and commercial law; wills, trusts and estates; litigation; and labor and employment law.

Marshall University Foundation, Inc. CEO Dr. Ron Area today announced that Matt James has been named the new executive director of alumni relations at Marshall University.

James was previously the assistant dean of intercultural and student affairs at the university.

“Matt is an exceptional leader who has dedicated his professional career to helping advance the goals and objectives of Marshall University,” Area said. “From his time as a student to today, he has been an advocate for student advancement, and I am confident that he will continue that great work with our strong network of alumni around the world.”

A native of Bluefield, West Virginia, James is a two-time graduate of Marshall, graduating cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 2009 and earning a master’s degree in school counseling in 2011. He is currently pursuing his doctorate in higher education leadership and administration.

James, a former student body president at Marshall, has served the university in multiple roles since 2009. He has served in his current position as assistant dean of students since 2015. For his work, James has also received numerous recognitions including being named as one of West Virginia’s Top 40 under 40 by the State Journal in 2022.

Throughout his career, James has been a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion on campus, and has devoted his career to helping students at Marshall succeed. Through that experience, James is excited to begin this next chapter as an ambassador for Marshall and looks forward to bringing alumni together for the common goal of advancing the university.

“I’m thrilled to join the MU Foundation team and begin this new journey,” James said. “In my 18 years on campus, as a former student leader and administrator, there has never been a more exciting time to be a member of the Marshall family. With the incredible leadership of President Smith, and the current excitement surrounding athletics, it’s perfect timing to grow our engagement efforts with Herd alumni across the country. I’m confident my experiences and relationships provide me with a unique perspective to succeed as the new executive director of alumni relations.”

James was named to the position after a nationwide search. He will begin in his new role on October 10.

James currently resides in Huntington with his wife, Sara, daughter Saylor, and two dogs Chip and Charlie.