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On November 14, 1970, a Southern Airways DC-9 crashed near the Huntington Tri-State Airport, claiming the lives of all 75 individuals on board, including 37 members of the Marshall University football team, eight coaching staff, 25 boosters, community members, and five Southern Airways employees. Seventy children lost at least one parent, and 18 were orphaned after losing both parents.  This incident stands as the worst sports-related air tragedy in history.

Marshall University and the Marshall 75 Family Alumni Chapter have established a 75 Legacy Scholarship Fund for the descendants of the crash victims who wish to pursue a higher education degree at Marshall University.

“This scholarship fund will allow descendants to attend Marshall at no cost to themselves,” said Leslie Deese Garvis, president of the Marshall 75 Family Alumni Chapter. “What better way to ensure the legacy of the 75 endures through their descendants than to provide a way for them to attend the University they loved.”

This fund is designed to support full-time or part-time undergraduate students who are direct descendants and who have fulfilled the obligations of the standard application process and are accepted to Marshall University. The award shall be renewed for up to four years (8 semesters) if the recipient maintains good academic standing.

Priority for this fund shall be given to the first-generation descendants (son or daughter) of the 75. If there are no first-generation recipients who qualify for this fund, recipient criteria shall be expanded to include any direct descendants of the 75 beyond the first generation.

The Office of Student Financial Assistance shall select the recipient and renew the award in cooperation with the Marshall 75 Family Alumni Chapter Legacy Scholarship Committee to confirm descendants.

“The chapter’s primary mission is to keep the memory of their 75 loved ones alive,” said Matt James, executive director of alumni relations. “One way to honor them is establishing a path to higher education through the descendants scholarship. I’m honored to be involved with such a special project.”

For further information about the Marshall 75 Family Alumni Legacy Scholarship Fund or to contribute to this cause, contact Chapter President Leslie Deese Garvis via email at, by phone at 713-819-4371 or visit the crowdfunding site at

Photo: Members of the 75 Family Alumni Chapter pose for a photo at the chapter kick-off event at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington on Nov. 10, 2023.

The Marshall University Foundation has announced a grant of $50,000 from the American Electric Power Foundation to benefit the Department of Communication Disorders, Marshall University Speech and Hearing Center and the Huntington Scottish Rite Foundation.

The grant supports two objectives, which are technology training and community outreach, and the growth of diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in STEM.

“AEP and the AEP Foundation have a long-standing history of supporting Marshall University and its students,” said Steven G. Stewart, director of government affairs for AEP. “We are again proud to support the Department of Communication Disorders. This is an outstanding program that allows these graduates to make an immediate positive impact to patients in need of their services.”

On Nov. 28, Stewart posed for a photo with Pam Holland, chair of the Department of Communication Disorders; Michael Prewitt, dean of the College of Health Professions, which houses the Department of Communication Disorders; Jenny Vance, program director, grant management for the Marshall Foundation; Lance West, vice president for development for the Marshall Foundation; and Sarah Clemins, associate professor and director of clinical education within the department.

In 2020, the AEP Foundation gave funds to develop a speech-language pathology simulation STEM laboratory with specific focus on the science and technology of speech-language pathology, as well as improving awareness and advocacy for communicating and chewing/swallowing, which are two primary basic functions that are often taken for granted.

“We are so honored to be considered worthy of the funding provided by the AEP Foundation,” Holland said. “In 2020, we established a SLP STEM laboratory for the purpose of educating high school youth on the many science and technology aspects of the field of speech-language pathology. We offered several camps utilizing the innovative equipment we were able to purchase and increased our enrollment of high school students in the introductory courses.”

In addition, the Department of Communication Disorders has been able to implement the speech-pathology laboratory with state-of-the-art equipment for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as offer telehealth services to children in rural areas that do not have access to broadband internet services and lack transportation.

The new grant will advance the success of the previous objectives. The first objective is to offer technology training and community outreach to allow speech-language pathologists to use the new equipment and improve accessibility to clients in the Tri-State region with communication disorders.

The second objective focuses on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility, and highlights the need for growth. According to the U.S Census Bureau (2019), Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx comprise 14.8% and 17.1% of the population, respectively. This translates to only 3.5% and 5.8% for the field of speech-language pathology.

“With the 2023 funding, technology, training and community outreach is a top priority,” Holland said. “The overall objective is to house the state’s most innovative speech-language pathology technology library and ensure access to all.  Our second goal is to focus on diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. It is the mission of the Department of Communication Disorders at Marshall University to increase minority student enrollment. This will be accomplished through collaborating with Marshall University’s Trio Programs, a federally funded initiative to support low income and first-generation college students in addition to reaching out to inner-city high school classrooms, host virtual events and specific STEM camps for minority youth.”

The Marshall University Foundation has announced that Wes and Martha Richardson have pledged $50,000 in support of the new Brad D. Smith Center for Business and Innovation at Marshall University with Northwestern Mutual matching the gift for a combined $100,000.

Hailing from Huntington, Wes Richardson, the Managing Partner of Northwestern Mutual West Virginia, and Martha Richardson, a Marshall graduate with undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, have been steadfast supporters of the Big Green Scholarship Foundation for several years. With the establishment of the new business center, the Richardsons have chosen to enhance their philanthropic commitment to the university, marking a significant stride in their ongoing support for Marshall’s educational endeavors.

“If you look at our Huntington office, a majority of our successful advisors are graduates of Marshall,” Wes said. “Marshall University stands as an invaluable source and steadfast partner for Northwestern Mutual, contributing to our shared achievements and growth.”

The facility, which is being built in the 1400 block of Fourth Avenue and scheduled to open in early 2024, is expected to be 77,000 gross square feet, and will house classroom space, a forum and auditorium, computer and finance labs, office space, meeting rooms and study spaces for students. It will be the center for economic advancement in the region, with the capability of hosting both small and large business gatherings.

The gift will be named for Northwestern Mutual as part of two interview rooms within the John F. Rahal Center for Strategic Engagement. The Rahal Center seeks to raise the visibility of the college as it fulfills its mission to be the major contributor to the region’s economic development.

Northwestern Mutual has a nationwide internship program, of which Marshall is a part of, that provides students with the opportunity to gain real-world experience in the financial and insurance industry. Northwestern Mutual’s involvement with the College of Business and the business center will only strengthen the partnership, Wes said.

“It aligns seamlessly with Marshall University’s overarching vision, dedicated to enhancing career opportunities for its graduates within the local community. Our interns actively engage with clients, striving to cultivate their professional skills while gaining valuable experience in comprehending individuals’ financial objectives. We aim to deliver tailored plans that empower clients to achieve their financial goals,” Wes said.

The new facility will give Marshall students access to a first-class education in a dynamic environment that will enhance and encourage various types of learning and collaboration. The facility will also serve as the hub for student-centric activities, providing students not only with instructional resources but also facilitating the practice and expertise that will prepare them post-graduation.

“This marks the inception of an exciting journey,” Wes said. “Grateful for our presence in the Huntington community, we recognize the significance of giving back, particularly to the university that has shaped the education of the majority in our firm. Investing in Marshall University is an investment in the future prosperity of our firm.”

Northwestern Mutual was founded in 1857 in Wisconsin and is a financial planning company that assists clients in reaching their financial goals through a delivered financial plan and a lifelong relationship with a financial advisor. The company has had offices in West Virginia since 1867 and there are currently 60 financial advisors throughout the state with offices in Charleston, Barboursville, Bridgeport, Huntington, Morgantown and Parkersburg, as well as branching into the surrounding areas of southeastern Ohio, eastern Kentucky and northern Virginia.