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The Marshall University Foundation hosted its annual Donor Recognition Dinner Oct. 20 at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall on Marshall’s Huntington campus. The event recognizes the generosity of donors with lifetime giving of $100,000 or more to Marshall University.

Over the past fiscal year from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, 37 new members entered the Foundation’s major gift societies and 22 moved into higher giving levels. There are also 495 members in the Foundation’s Old Main Society, which recognizes planned gift intentions.

“We are honored to celebrate our donors during our Donor Recognition Dinner,” said Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation. “Their charitable giving toward Marshall University is not merely a financial investment; it is a testament to their belief in the power of education and its ability to shape a brighter future.”

Area began the event by welcoming the donors and their guests, followed by an invocation from Rex Johnson, a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors. President Brad D. Smith gave remarks about the current status of the university as well as recent developments including the investment of $45 million from the State of West Virginia to build a state-of-the-art institute for cyber security. Smith also shared his excitement for the launch of Marshall For All.

Marshall For All is an initiative announced last year by President Smith to help students earn a bachelor’s degree debt-free. Marshall For All launched this fall with 100 students participating in the program, and Marshall plans to grow the program over the next 10 years. A handful of Marshall For All students were present for the dinner and met with several of the donors.

“Through the steadfast commitment of our generous donors, we are not merely building structures or endowing scholarships; we are sculpting the very foundation of possibility for each student at Marshall University, including those in the Marshall For All program,” President Smith said. “Our donors’ contributions are the catalysts for innovation, the keys to unlocking potential, and the bridge to a future where education transforms lives.”

The Foundation’s Board of Directors meets three times a year, and on those occasions, the Board meets annually in the fall on Huntington’s campus. This year, the Board of Directors’ fall meeting coincided with the event, which returned after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The Foundation calculates lifetime giving totals annually.

The Marshall University Foundation has announced a gift of $1,715,949.13 toward the College of Education and Professional Development bequeathed by Hazel Shrader, a three-time graduate of Marshall University.

“Hazel would like to help any student who is trying but needs help,” said Barbara Holesapple, a friend of Shrader’s. “She would be pleased to know she is helping someone.”

Shrader earned a normal teaching degree in 1942 from then-Marshall College. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, both in education, in 1943 and 1952, respectively. According to Shrader’s friends and family, her time at Marshall was her proudest moment and she decided to leave a gift so others would have a chance to go to college.

“She really appreciated her time there,” said Doris Ann Taylor, cousin, friend and former student of Shrader’s. “She would be very happy that the money is to be used as she intended.”

On Oct. 5, Holesapple, Taylor and Connie Copeland, a friend of Shrader’s, traveled from Monroe County to Huntington to hand-deliver the check and to pose for a photo in Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall with Teresa Eagle, dean of the College of Education and Professional Development, Scott Anderson, chief financial officer for the Foundation, and Ainslie McKinney, program director of legacy giving and administrative services for the Foundation.

“We are a service profession,” Eagle said. “We teach our students to ‘pay it forward.’ Giving back is so important. We are excited to tell Hazel’s story and we hope it makes a difference to people.”

Shrader was born on Aug. 24, 1922, in Pickaway in Monroe County, West Virginia. At 16 years old, she graduated from Union High School in 1939 and was class valedictorian. Apart from her time at Marshall, Shrader lived in Monroe County her entire life and taught for 45 years.

Shrader’s first teaching job was Willow Bend, a one-room school, followed by Reynolds School and Mt. Prospect School on Knobs Mountain. She then taught at Glace School, Dewey School, Belleview School, Sinks Grove Elementary School, and lastly, Union Elementary School where she taught for 23 years before her retirement.

In addition to her responsibilities in the classroom throughout the school year, Shrader also taught Head Start for 12 weeks in the summer for 22 years. In all her years of teaching, Shrader never took sick leave and only missed four days of teaching after her mother died.

Shrader taught all different grade levels, but she spent most of her career teaching reading to first graders. She was named Monroe County’s Reading Teacher of the Year in 1987, the same year she retired, Taylor said.

It is with that in mind, Eagle said, the college will decide how best to use the gift, which will most likely include scholarships, particularly for students whose focus is teaching reading.

Following her retirement, Shrader traveled with friends on cruises to Alaska, Australia, New Zealand and Panama. She also went on Elder Hostel and Just Older Youth (JOY) trips, shopped and spent time with her best friend, Mayo Lemons, and crafted dolls.

Shrader took great pride in being a member of Delta Kappa Gamma for 50 years, as well as a member of the Monroe County and West Virginia Reading Councils and was a life member of the Monroe County Retired School Personnel.

Since 1933, she was a member of the Trinity United Methodist Church where she served as the church treasurer and youth Sunday school teacher. She was an active member and officer of the United Methodist Women. She also had been a member of Pickaway Community Educational Outreach Service.

After her father’s untimely death in 1946, Shrader operated the family farm until she was 62 and continued to mow the lawn until she was 83. Shrader died on Aug. 15, 2022, nine days shy of her 100th birthday.

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The Marshall University Foundation has announced a gift of $151,170.87 bequeathed by Matilda Robinson toward the Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center within the Department of Communication Disorders.

On Oct. 13, Michael Robinson, nephew of Matilda and Randall Robinson, posed for a photo with Michael Prewitt, dean of the College of Health Professions, which houses the Department of Communication Disorders; Pam Holland, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders; Sarah Clemins, associate professor and director of clinical education within the department; and Lance West, vice president for development for the Foundation.

Matilda Robinson was a 1950 graduate of then-Marshall College. She and her brother Randall Robinson were Huntington natives. Randall Robinson endowed a gift to the Speech and Hearing Center in 1992. He also established the Randall A. Robinson Scholarship to benefit students in the Department of Communication Disorders the same year.

When Randall Robinson died in 2004, he left funds for Matilda to gift at her discretion, which she then used to provide additional funding for the clinic after her passing in March of 2022.

“His donation provided the financial support to renovate our clinic,” said Holland of Randall Robinson’s initial gift. “It is quite common that students from other universities select our graduate program because of how impressed they are with our innovative clinic. I know this would make Randall proud.

“The new endowment will continue to support our program in various ways including student scholarships, faculty development and purchasing materials for our clinic. We could not be more thankful for the Robinson family.”

Randall Robinson’s decision to give to the Department of Communication Disorders and the clinic stemmed from the care he received through the Speech and Hearing Center as he had a stutter, Michael Robinson said.

“Having been in public education, I know how important the work you’re doing is,” Michael Robinson said. “So many children and families can piece together from the glue you provide.”

Matilda and Randall Robinson saved their money and donated every cent to various nonprofits, Michael Robinson said. After graduating from Marshall, Matilda Robinson’s first teaching job was in Logan County, West Virginia. She later studied in Chicago at the Moody Bible Institute. Randall Robinson worked in the carpentry profession.

To learn more about planned giving, visit

The Marshall University Foundation, Inc. is excited to announce the establishment of the Jerry R. Keyser Scholarship for $300,000 designed to support and nurture aspiring biology majors at Marshall University.

Of the $300,000, $250,000 will be put into the Foundation’s endowment, with the remaining $50,000 going toward the expendable to be awarded $10,000 per year for the first five years. The renewable four-year scholarship aims to foster the growth of exceptional talents and empower the next generation of scientific leaders who will make groundbreaking contributions to the field of biology and environmental sciences.

“I have heard the inner calling of my faith to give this generous contribution to Marshall University,” Keyser said. “I have been blessed to have had a successful business career enabling me to contribute to the scholarship fund and give back to those residents of West Virginia who wish to work hard to further their education and make a difference.

“It is my intent and hope these scholarships be awarded to those who want to pursue a degree in biological science to develop careers in researching natural and metabolic treatments for cancer and other diseases. Also, environmental science to help preserve our environment.”

The scholarship is generously endowed by Jerry Keyser. Keyser was born and grew up in West Virginia and attended Marshall University where he received his bachelor’s degree in social studies in 1971. After a successful business career, Keyser traveled the country where he developed a love for art and the outdoors. Toward the end of his career, Keyser began to pursue his passion for painting, particularly of the Rocky Mountains and western landscapes.

“I had a great time while attending Marshall and made many long-lasting friends,” Keyser said. “After college, I moved away from West Virginia to other places to pursue my corporate business goals. I am now retired and reside in Montana and Colorado. I often attend Marshall’s Homecoming weekend to see old friends. It always brings back old memories of when I attended school, and how much I miss the people and beautiful places in the Mountain State. Marshall University and West Virginia have a special and deep place in my heart.”

The Jerry R. Keyser Scholarship was established to support undergraduate students in the College of Science. First preference goes to biology majors, and second preference goes to environmental science majors. The award is renewable as long as the recipient maintains a good academic standing.

To donate to this fund or to learn more about philanthropic support of Marshall University, please visit or follow us on social media @ForMarshallU.