Skip to Content Skip to Navigation
Marshall University Foundation Logo

Student scholarship recipients were honored Saturday at Marshall University during the 2024 Scholarship Honor Brunch, hosted by the Marshall University Foundation. This annual event recognizes those students who are beneficiaries of privately funded scholarships, as well as the donors and families who made the awards possible.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO and senior vice president of development of the Marshall Foundation, delivered a special welcome to more than 400 students and donors who attended the event in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center.

“The Scholarship Honor Brunch unites scholarship recipients and donors, underscoring our dedication to enhancing ongoing support for Marshall University and its students,” Area said. “We are steadfast in our mission to broaden educational access for our students and deeply grateful for the generosity of our donors, who invest in Marshall through their contributions and active participation in today’s event.”

Bonnie Bailey, director of Student Support Services Program, served as the featured speaker. The program, which is federally funded, targets students who are first-generation, the first in their family to complete a four-year degree, and income-eligible.

Senior Amelya Bostic from Grundy, Virginia, served as the student speaker. A communication disorders major slated to graduate at the end of April. Bostic spoke about the positive impact Student Support Services has had on her throughout her time at Marshall.

“As an out-of-state student, financially college could have been hard for me but with SSS I was able to navigate class and financial aid to graduate early and with very low debt,” Bostic said.

“Through the community I found, I was able to gain the confidence to try new things and find a place where I belong,” she continued. “In addition to this community, SSS has connected me to every department or important person I have needed on my journey here at Marshall from financial aid, housing, academics and community. My time here could have been more difficult without the tools and people SSS knew I needed.”

Bailey began working as a counselor with the Student Support Services Program in July 2005. Before becoming the director and counselor for the SSS Program, she worked as a residential, outpatient and school-based therapist. As a daughter of Marshall, Bailey earned a bachelor’s degree in counseling, a master’s degree in mental health counseling, and an Ed.S. in counseling curriculum. She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and approved licensed professional supervisor (ALPS) for West Virginia.

Bailey’s program boasts a more than 96 percent persistence, a 98 percent academic good standing rate, and a 76 percent graduation rate, which shows that early intervention, consistent support and relationships truly can and do make all the difference.

“Our program has helped students since 1971. As a first-generation and former student in the program to a staff member since 2005, I can tell you services look different now because the world is quickly moving and changing,” Bailey said. “However, one thing about our services has remained the same – relationships. While these relationships produce great retention and graduation rates, students also grow and achieve their goals. For me, my favorite part of the job is the student-facing responsibilities that promotes the success of our students.”

The College of Arts and Media’s School of Theatre and Dance, along with the School of Music, ended the program with a performance from the musical “Godspell.”

To learn how to establish a scholarship to help students at Marshall, contact Krystle Davis at the Marshall University Foundation by phone at 304-696-6781 or by email at krystle.davis@marshall.edu.


The Marshall University Foundation encourages faculty and staff to consider “giving today and every pay” by enrolling in payroll deduction throughout the month of April with the Marshall University Family Campaign.

During the month of April, faculty and staff can sign up for payroll deduction, offering them the opportunity to create a lasting impact through consistent, automated contributions. They can opt to allocate their contributions to a particular scholarship, program fund or the Annual Fund. The Annual Fund is vital for various university initiatives, particularly addressing its most pressing needs. Every commitment, regardless of amount, plays a pivotal role in shaping Marshall University’s future.

“The decision when and where to make a charitable donation is a very personal decision. A payroll deduction allows you to spread your gift out over the course of a year, so it’s automatic and easier on your budget,” said Griffin Talbott, senior director of the annual fund for the Marshall Foundation.

Enrolling this month will also count gifts as contributions to the university’s third annual Day of Giving. Scheduled for April 24 and 25, the Day of Giving invites the Marshall community to unite in creating a lasting impact on students and shaping the institution’s future. Last year, donations exceeded $62,000, and this year’s objective is to surpass that amount.

During the Marshall Foundation’s Gratitude Week last fall, Dr. Ed Bingham, professor of saxophone and jazz studies, had this to say about his years of giving through payroll deductions:

“I think it’s important to invest in your own career and the school you are working in. I dearly love Marshall and have been very happy working at this institution. I’d like to help any way I can and help support the programs that benefit the students.”

For questions regarding the Family Campaign or Day of Giving, please contact Talbott at griffin.talbott@marshall.edu or 304-696-6214. To enroll online, visit https://www.formarshallu.org/family-campaign-donation-form/.


Marshall University and the Marshall University Alumni Association (MUAA) are set to host the 85th annual Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 13, beginning at 6 p.m. with dinner and awards at the Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall.

The Marshall University Alumni Awards Banquet recognizes outstanding alumni, university supporters and students during an evening of celebration and reverence of the great things being accomplished by the Marshall University alumni community.

“We are thrilled to recognize a few special members of our Marshall family at this year’s awards banquet,” said Matt James, executive director of alumni relations. “Each of our honorees represents the grit, determination and success often attributed with Marshall alumni and I’m honored by the opportunity to celebrate each of their achievements and service to our alma mater.”

Highlighting the list of more than a dozen honorees at the 2024 awards banquet are Dr. James M. Lester as the recipient of the Marshall University Distinguished Alumnus award. Joel M. “Woody” Woodrum has been selected as the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Marshall University award. Holly Mount has been selected as the recipient of the Outstanding Community Achievement award, and Kyle D. Powers will receive the Distinguished Young Alumnus award.

Individual Awards of Distinction will also be presented during the event to honorees from each of Marshall’s schools and colleges. This year’s Awards of Distinction will go to Josh Meredith (College of Arts and Media), Beth “Buffy” Hammers (College of Business), Hazel Shrader (College of Education and Professional Development), Alicia Cunningham (College of Engineering and Computer Sciences), Dr. William P. Marley (College of Health Professions), William Dodson (College of Liberal Arts), Dr. Thomas Lemke (College of Science), Dr. Larry D. Dial Jr. (Marshall University School of Medicine), and Dr. Jordan Sheppard (Marshall University School of Pharmacy).

Growing up in various regions of the South, East and Midwest, Lester graduated from Chesapeake High School in Chesapeake, Ohio. After he turned 17 years old, Lester enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

After a few years in the service, Lester started attending classes at Marshall in 2004. He worked while he was in school and eventually landed a job at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Huntington. He earned a Regents Bachelor of Arts degree in 2007 and his master’s degree in counseling from Marshall in 2009.

Lester held many positions and roles at the VA, starting from GS-4, the most entry-level position. As he was passionate about helping others succeed, he eventually became a counselor at the VA, where he worked directly with hundreds of veterans struggling with their reintegration into civilian life. During this role, he developed an interest in improving the program and how we serve our veterans and their families. He began developing himself from a subject matter expert to an agency leader, and since then, he has been involved in many pilots, workgroups and innovations throughout different agencies and community organizations. For his contributions, he has received multiple accolades. His doctoral dissertation was an innovative study of specific cognitive variances in military veterans and its implications for rehabilitation and/or reintegration back to civilian life.

Lester also enjoyed teaching as an adjunct professor for Marshall University’s Graduate College and has served on advisories, committees and councils with dozens of organizations and agencies around the country, including several boards of directors and two international councils. Currently, he is the assistant director of the Philadelphia and Wilmington VA Regional Offices, where he serves more than 1 million veterans and their families in Pennsylvania, the state of Delaware and Southern New Jersey.

In other categories, Woodrum is the recipient of the Distinguished Service to Marshall University award, Mount is the recipient of the Outstanding Community Achievement award, and Powers is the recipient of the Young Alumnus award.

Over the past 50 years, Woodrum has served Marshall in numerous ways and has become an institution in the Marshall and local athletics communities. Most know him best during his time as a radio color commentator for Marshall football and basketball broadcasts, as well as hosting or co-hosting local pre- and post-game shows. He currently serves as a public address announcer for Marshall’s football, basketball, volleyball teams, among other sports. He has been a Marshall University Athletic Hall of Fame committee member since 1999.

In addition to his work at Marshall, Woodrum also worked full-time at Kindred Communications. At Kindred, Woodrum hosted Sportsline Daily Talk Show, wrote and edited the Herd Insider and did play-by-play and color for high school sports broadcasts. He currently works part-time for Kindred on Marshall pre- or post-game shows, as well as being the play-by-play voice of Huntington High School. For his work with Marshall and at Kindred, he has received numerous awards including West Virginia Broadcaster of the Year from the National Association of Sportswriters & Sportscasters.

Mount graduated from Marshall in 2004 from the College of Health Professions and went on to receive her Master’s in Nursing Informatics. She began her career in nursing in the pediatric intensive care unit and has worked as an air and ground transport nurse, clinical sales manager for North America, and in health care leadership. She now works as a director with the West Virginia Health Information Network. She serves as vice chair of Huntington City Council and chair of the Planning and Zoning Committee. She is a member of the City of Huntington’s Planning Commission, Mayor’s Council for Public Health & Drug Control Policy, and the City Council Drug Control Policy Committee. She also serves on the advisory panel for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department Harm Reduction Program. She coaches volleyball at St. Joseph Catholic School and softball majors for Huntington Little League.

Powers grew up in Lavalette, West Virginia, with his parents Michael and Christine Powers. He attended Wayne High School and graduated in 2017. Powers stayed close to home as he would go on to attend Marshall that fall. Powers is a 2021 graduate of Marshall University obtaining a degree in criminal justice and minoring in political science.

In the summer of 2018, Powers would attend his first ever training camp as an equipment intern for the Pittsburgh Steelers, only this time not as an avid fan like years prior. Growing up as a Steelers fan, inspired by his mother who grew up in Pittsburgh, the Steelers always held a special place in Powers’ heart. Over the next two seasons, Powers would travel to and from Pittsburgh for home games and would attend training camps in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, with the Steelers. In the spring of 2020, he was elected student body vice president alongside President Anna Williams. Powers’ role within the Steelers organization continued to grow as he was asked to stay on for the full season during the pandemic of 2020 and would work in Pittsburgh. While working full time, attending class remotely, and governing a student body as student body vice president, he juggled quite a bit. Upon returning in the spring of 2021, Powers finished out his time at Marshall. Powers currently serves as a full-time member of the Pittsburgh Steelers equipment staff.

Other honorees at the annual alumni awards banquet include the inaugural “3 C’s” Award with Cathryn P. Easterling, Walker R. Tatum and Kathy G. Eddy as recipients. In addition to alumni chapter awards, Marshall University Black Alumni will also award Janet Gaither with the Fran Jackson Scholarship award, Chiana Bradley with the Nate Ruffin Scholarship award, and Ta’Marra Cook with the Janis Winkfield Scholarship award.


Marshall University’s student body president will move into an alumni role when he graduates with his bachelor’s degree next month.

Walker Tatum has been named as the university’s new director of alumni engagement. In addition to currently serving as student body president, Tatum also serves as student representative on the Marshall University Board of Governors and vice chair of the West Virginia State Advisory Council of Students.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation, says he is looking forward to the new addition to the advancement team.

“His experiences and skill set complement us as we look for new avenues of alumni engagement and unlock new opportunities for growth and sustainability,” said Area.

In his new role, Tatum will be primarily responsible for continuing the expansion of alumni chapters across the country and developing a strategic plan to engage young alumni. He will work alongside Matt James, executive director of alumni relations.

“Walker is a rockstar who exudes the passion, skills and vision necessary to take our alumni engagement efforts to the next level,” said James. “We’re thrilled to keep his talents at Marshall.”

Tatum will also play a critical role in connecting alumni to various initiatives in support of President Brad D. Smith’s “Marshall For All, Marshall Forever” program, including alumni mentorship, high school student recruitment and increased scholarships.

“I’m honored to embark on this new chapter and join a group of dedicated individuals committed to fostering connections and celebrating the achievements of our alumni,” said Tatum. “I look forward to contributing to the rich tradition of Marshall and working collaboratively to strengthen the ties that bind our diverse and accomplished alumni network.”

A native of Wayne, West Virginia, Tatum will graduate on April 27 with his bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, with minors in chemistry, business and pre-professional health care studies. During his time at Marshall, he earned the prestigious Gilman Scholarship through the U.S. State Department and has been a consistent champion for food insecurity among college students. His leadership on this issue led him to the halls of the West Virginia Legislature earlier this year when he testified in support of the Hunger Free Campus Act. As a result of Tatum’s advocacy, the Marshall Food Pantry will undergo a comprehensive renovation over the next several months.

Tatum says he plans to utilize his advocacy and leadership experiences to further the mission of The Marshall University Foundation.

“I look forward to building impactful relationships with alumni around the world and to work closely with someone whose leadership I have always looked up to, Matt James,” said Tatum. “Together, the office of alumni relations will foster a legacy of pride, achievement, and lifelong connections to ensure every alumnus is valued and cherished for years to come.”

Tatum will assume his new role on May 1. He currently resides in Wayne with his bernedoodle, Ziti.


Marshall University has announced that its 2024 Homecoming contest will be Marshall Football’s Saturday, Oct. 5, contest against Sun Belt Conference rival Appalachian State University at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The pageantry and excitement of Homecoming returns to Marshall University beginning Monday, Sept. 30, and culminating with the crowning of Marshall Royalty at halftime during the Appalachian State game.

This will be the fourth time in Marshall Football history that Appalachian State has served as the Homecoming opponent, but the first since the 1993 season when the Thundering Herd earned a 35-3 win over the Mountaineers. Marshall is 2-1 in Homecoming games between the teams.

“One of the best things about joining the Sun Belt was rekindling some of our historic rivalries,” said Christian Spears, Marshall University’s director of athletics. “No doubt, there’s mutual respect but also a sincere desire to get the win – not just because of talent, but because of heart and passion that goes with winning Homecoming for your school and community. There is tons of change happening in college athletics, but not with this rivalry. When it comes to App State and Marshall, spot the ball and let’s get after it!”

Homecoming weekend also serves as Parents and Family Weekend and there will be an Alumni and Family tailgate for the game.

A full schedule of events for Homecoming week, including information on the Homecoming Parade, will be shared as it becomes finalized.

“We are gearing up for one of the most exciting times of the year for our Marshall family,” said Matt James, executive director of Marshall University’s alumni relations. “This is a special time for us to celebrate with one another, cherish the Marshall moments that shaped us and ignite a flame of support for future generations. We welcome all alumni, students, community members and supporters to join us in October for another memorable Herd Homecoming!”

Marshall is coming off a season in which the team earned a bid to the 2023 Frisco Bowl, which established a new program record for consecutive years making it to a bowl game (7). The 2023 season also included a victory over Virginia Tech – the team’s second Power Five win in as many years (Notre Dame, 2022).

Since the opening of Joan C. Edwards Stadium in 1991, Marshall is 28-5 in Homecoming games and 9-1 over its past 10 games. Marshall’s all-time record in Homecoming games is 68-46-8.

For more information about Marshall’s 2024 Homecoming celebration and surrounding events, contact the Marshall University Alumni Association at (304) 696-3424. Also, follow the Marshall Foundation and Alumni Association on Facebook, X and Instagram by using @ForMarshallU for updates on Marshall events.

For all the latest information about Marshall Athletics, follow @HerdZone on X and Instagram.

To follow all Thundering Herd sports and get live stats, schedules and free live audio, download the Marshall Athletics App for iOS and Android.


The Marshall University Foundation has announced the establishment of the Alfred G. Duba Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is generously endowed by the family and friends of Alfred Duba, a 1966 graduate and 1981 recipient of the Marshall University Alumni Association Distinguished Alumnus Award. Alfred Duba passed in August of 2023.

“My husband felt that anybody who is interested in going to Marshall should have a bit of extra help,” said Lucille Duba, wife of Alfred Duba. “He felt college was important. He thought it served as a pathway to a better life.”

Alfred Duba was born Jan. 26, 1940, in Braeholm, Logan County, West Virginia. The oldest of 12 children, he graduated from Man High School as valedictorian in 1958. From there, he enlisted in the United States Army and served as a personnel clerk posted in Heidelberg, Germany.

Under the GI Bill, Alfred Duba was able to attend Marshall and received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1966. While at Marshall, he worked at Cabell Huntington Hospital where he met Lucille Duba, a fellow Marshall student, and they married in 1964. Alfred Duba later received his Ph.D. in geophysics at the University of Chicago.

After finishing his Ph.D. on the electrical conductivity of olivine, he completed research stays at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Harvard University and the Australian National University in Canberra.

From 1972, he was employed as a research scientist at LLNL where he conducted experiments on how the earth behaved at high pressures and high temperatures and served various leadership roles. In 1981, he received the Marshall University Distinguished Alumnus award during Marshall University Alumni Association’s annual Alumni Awards Banquet. This year, Marshall will celebrate the 85th Alumni Awards Banquet on Saturday, April 13, 2024.

In 1985, he received an Alexander von Humboldt research award. In 1997, he was named Fellow of the American Geophysical Union. He also had visiting professorships in the Netherlands, France and Germany. In 2002, he retired early to return to West Virginia. For the next decade and a half, he worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, where he produced Earth news reports for the museums and schools across the United States. His research, collaborations and outreach brought him to locations across five continents and the North Pole.

Lucille Duba said her husband was an outgoing person and easily made friends anywhere they went. He often shared with them his love of Marshall and his home state.

“He was hardworking and very outgoing,” Lucille Duba said. “He thoroughly enjoyed life and enjoyed telling people about Marshall and West Virginia. He was never ashamed of where he was from. I think he gave people a good impression of West Virginia.”

The scholarship recipient shall be a full-time student in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA or higher. The Office of Student Financial Assistance shall select the recipient and renew the award if full-time status and satisfactory academic progress are maintained.

For information regarding the Alfred G. Duba Memorial Scholarship, please contact Marshall University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance at 304-696-3162.


The Marshall University Foundation has announced the establishment of The Chafin Law Firm Scholarship. This scholarship is generously endowed by Truman and Letitia “Tish” Neese Chafin. Both have marketing degrees from Marshall, graduating in 1967 and 1986, respectively.

The Chafin Law Firm is a small, specialized practice in the heart of the West Virginia coalfields in Mingo County. The Chafin Law Firm has represented West Virginia counties seeking damages from drug manufacturers due to the opioid epidemic. The Chafins created this scholarship to support students whose family was adversely affected by the opioid epidemic.

“We’re honored to have represented the counties and cities in this terrible situation, particularly what’s happened to southern West Virginia,” said H. Truman Chafin, founder of The Chafin Law Firm. “We wanted to do anything we can to the community who helped us.”

Truman Chafin served in the West Virginia State Senate from 1982 to 2014 and served as majority leader from 1998 to 2010. Truman Chafin founded the law firm after graduating from Michigan State University College of Law in the late 1970s. The firm’s office is the previous home to Williamson, West Virginia’s, U.S. Post Office and Courthouse.

Tish Chafin received her law degree from West Virginia University College of Law and began working at the firm shortly after. She was appointed to Marshall’s Board of Governors by then-Governor Bob Wise in 2005 and served two terms. She also previously served as president of the West Virginia State Bar Association from 2010-2011.

Truman Chafin said the decision to establish the scholarship was an easy one as the older you get, the more important you realize it is to give.

“That’s where your real happiness is, to give and not receive,” Truman Chafin said. “We wanted to be able to help someone who is really talented and has the grades and give them the gift that keeps on giving, which is education.”

Amy Saunders, managing director for Marshall’s Center of Excellence for Recovery, said the scholarship will have a positive impact. The Center of Excellence for Recovery aims to increase the well-being of West Virginians through behavioral health, education, prevention, outreach, recovery and applied research initiatives.

“We are grateful for the Chafins’ generosity for creating this funding for our students from Mingo County,” Saunders said. “Many West Virginia youth and families have been affected by opioids and other substance use disorders. This funding will allow us to assist a student who has already worked very hard to overcome challenges in their family and community to provide support to reach their academic dream.”

The scholarship recipient shall be a full-time student and has financial need per the standards of the Office of Student Financial Assistance. First preference is to a student from Mingo County, West Virginia.

The award shall be renewable up to four years, or eight semesters, if the recipient maintains good academic standing of 2.0 GPA or higher. The director of the Center of Excellence and Recovery shall select the recipient and renew the award in cooperation with the Office of Student Financial Assistance.

For information regarding the Chafin Law Firm Scholarship, please contact Marshall University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance at 304-696-3162. To learn more about The Chafin Law Firm, visit www.thechafinlawfirm.com.


The Marshall University Foundation has announced the establishment of the Alpha-Tech Scholarship. This scholarship is generously endowed for $100,000 by Alpha Technologies and will serve students studying cybersecurity. 

In August of 2023, Marshall received $45 million from the state of West Virginia to establish a state-of-the-art Institute for Cyber Security, which will position the university at the forefront of cyber defense and research. 

“The Alpha-Tech Scholarship is more than a donation; it’s an investment in the next generation of cybersecurity experts. We look forward to seeing the impact these students will make, both at Marshall University and in the broader field of cybersecurity,” said Doug Tate, CEO and owner of Alpha Technologies. 

Alpha Technologies is a service-disabled, veteran-owned small business and information technology service company headquartered in Hurricane, West Virginia, with a global datacenter located in South Charleston, West Virginia. Alpha Technologies is a business technology company focused on IT services such as system security and maintenance, internet connectivity, Alpha-Voice services, cloud computing, data storage and backup, and more. 

Alpha Technologies’ investment in the Institute for Cyber Security at Marshall aims to create cybersecurity practitioners and buyers, bridging the gap between West Virginia and larger markets in technology, said Rich O’Brien, president of Alpha Technologies. With a 20-year history in the state, Alpha Technologies highlights its commitment to networking services and cybersecurity, while hiring students from Marshall as well as local community colleges. 

“Education is a key driver of progress, and our collaboration with Marshall University underscores our belief in the transformative power of knowledge,” O’Brien said. “The Alpha-Tech Scholarship aims to empower students by providing not just financial support but also valuable opportunities for practical experience.”  

The scholarship recipients shall be full-time undergraduate or graduate students from West Virginia majoring in a cybersecurity-related field, who are in good academic standing with a 2.5 GPA, and have financial need per the standards of the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Student recipients will be encouraged to apply for internships at Alpha Technologies, translating their academic knowledge into real-world practice. 

The scholarship may be awarded to up to four students a year. The award shall be renewable up to four years, or eight semesters, if the recipient maintains good academic standing. The dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, or their designee, shall select the recipient and renew the award in cooperation with the Office of Student Financial Assistance.  

For information regarding the Alpha-Tech Scholarship, please contact Marshall University’s Office of Student Financial Assistance at 304-696-3162. 


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.