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For the second year in a row, the Marshall University Foundation surprised Marshall University employees with balloons, certificates and an entourage of special guests to thank them for their years of giving to the Foundation.

The surprises were part of the Foundation’s Gratitude Week, a newly revamped spin on what was previously Thank A Donor Days. Though the name may have changed, the premise is the same – to express gratitude to those who make the Foundation’s mission possible by helping students, faculty and staff, and advancing the goals of the university.

Michael McGuffey, senior director of institutional research, has 37 years of experience working for Marshall. He began his relationship with Marshall as a student, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1983 and his master’s degree in 1986, both in mathematics. McGuffey’s wife and three daughters all attended Marshall, with the youngest daughter set to graduate soon.

“We are a Marshall family,” McGuffey said. “We bleed green.”

McGuffey has given to the Foundation for 27 years. A move, he said, he felt compelled to do in the 1990s when then-President J. Wade Gilley started the fundraising campaign for the construction of John Deaver Drinko Library.

“I think it’s something you feel you need to do within yourself,” McGuffey said. “When President Gilley started the campaign for the library, that was important to me as there’s nothing more oriented toward education than a library.”

Since then, McGuffey has given to the Foundation’s annual fund, as well as the Institutional Research Special Needs Fund, among others. Of his various areas of support, he said others must understand what is important to them and how they can help give.

“It’s not something you can convince someone else to do, but you can probably convince them why and how much they’ve gained from being here.”

Over in Smith Hall, three College of Arts and Media employees were recognized for their support to the university.

Rachel Williamson, current business manager for CAM and previously accounts payable for the Foundation, has made charitable contributions for nearly 26 years.

Of those 26 years, Williamson has given to multiple scholarships, including the Patricia Sadler Graham Endowed Scholarship for the College of Education, the Donald L. Van Horn Scholarship and the Gene R. Bargerhuff Memorial Scholarship for Engineering.

“I started giving when I worked at the Foundation and I gave to the Bargerhuff Scholarship because I used to babysit their little grandkids, who are now grown adults,” Williamson said. “Then I switched but kept giving to scholarships so a student can get help from my donations.

“I try to give back when I can, and it’s not the monetary amount. After 25 plus years, it adds up. Every little bit helps.”

Dr. Ed Bingham, a graduate of the University of Tennessee, The Julliard School and the University of Kentucky, joined the Marshall family in 1990 as a professor of saxophone and jazz studies. Of his 33 years with the university, Bingham has made contributions to the Foundation for 29 years.

The majority of Bingham’s gifts have been made directly to the College of Arts and Media’s annual fund and said his primary goal is to help the students.

“I think it’s important to invest in your own career and the school you are working in,” Bingham said. “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.”

“There have also been a lot of faculty opportunities,” he continued. “In 2009, I was selected as one of the Drinko Fellows and was afforded time off to do some research and ended up doing a very important part of my work here and I’m proud to be part of that program. As part of that research, I did a trip to Cuba, which was very exciting and a wonderful opportunity.”

Dr. Charles G. Bailey has a long-standing history with the university. He received his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting in 1974 and his master’s degree in mass communications in 1985. He also has an Ed.D. in education from what was previously the West Virginia College of Graduate Studies and is now Marshall’s Graduate College.

Bailey has served as faculty manager of WMUL-FM and professor of radio-television production and management since the 1980s. Instead of looking around to try to find the best college radio station, he said he believed he could build it here. Under Bailey’s guidance, WMUL-FM has received 2,444 awards and counting, often competing against professional radio stations.

“I have always believed that when students are motivated to learn, afforded adequate training, delivered concise instruction and provided an obtainable set of goals, their success is an anticipated result and not a surprising development,” he said.

Bailey’s contributions to the Foundation crossed the 40-year mark this year and include areas pertaining to the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications, including the Dr. Charles G. Bailey Scholarship, which was generously established by former students.

“You have to make the decision that you’re willing to give,” Bailey said. “You got to say, ‘I’m trying to help.’ And this is how I help.”

For questions about payroll deductions or how to make contributions to the Foundation’s annual fund, contact Griffin Talbott, senior director of the annual fund, at 304-696-6214 or

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.

To learn more about planned giving, visit

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.

Marshall University has announced its 2023 Homecoming activities, promising a week filled with nostalgia, camaraderie and spirited festivities for students and alumni alike. The theme this year is “Super Marco: Level Up,” which celebrates the history of video games throughout the years, as well as celebrating Marshall “leveling up” in stature.

“We are thrilled to announce Marshall University’s Homecoming is just around the corner, and we can’t wait to welcome back our alumni family with open arms,” said Matt James, executive director of alumni relations. “Get ready for an unforgettable week filled with time-honored traditions as we come together to celebrate our beloved alma mater.”

Please see a full list of events and activities below:

Monday, Sept. 25

Activities for the week begin at 5 p.m. with the Unity Walk, an annual event celebrating unity, inclusion and oneness on campus with music, fellowship and fun. Community members are invited and encouraged to participate. The walk begins at the Marshall Rec Center and ends at the Memorial Student Center Plaza. Marshall’s Homecoming Court will also be announced at the event.

Tuesday, Sept. 26

Intercultural and Student Affairs will host Penny Wars from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Memorial Student Center Plaza Monday through Thursday. Chalk the Walk will also take place Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with judging taking place at 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 27

Intercultural and Student Affairs will host a window display contest from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the second floor of the Memorial Student Center. Judging will take place at 3:30 p.m.

Black United Students Miss Captivating Pageant will take place at 7 p.m. in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center.

Thursday, Sept. 28

The Marshall University Alumni Association will host its annual Office Decorating Contest from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Any department or office is welcome to participate. There will be prizes offered in three categories in each of two divisions, and two grand prizes. Winners will be announced during Party on the Plaza on Friday.

WMUL will host its annual Car Bash from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Buskirk Field. Join us as participants pay $1 to bash the car, painted in Old Dominion’s colors, with a sledgehammer for two minutes. Sledgehammer, gloves and goggles will be provided.

Hoops in Huntington returns at 6 p.m. along Third Avenue across from Pullman Square. Hoops in Huntington event highlights Herd athletics, including introductions from student-athletes and coaches, fun activities for families and more!

Intercultural and Student Affairs will host Herd Pop Trivia at 6 p.m. in the Memorial Student Center.

Wild N’ Out, an annual event full of fun and laughs centered on improvisational comedy, will take place at 9 p.m. in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center. For more information on this event, contact Corey Cunningham at

Friday, Sept. 29

Party on the Plaza returns from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event, hosted by University Communications, features free food, music, a pep rally and photo booth. The event is free and open to students, alumni and the campus community.

Parent and Family Weekend also returns Friday and concludes Sunday, Oct. 1. Food trucks will be onsite at Joan C. Edwards playhouse from noon to 8 p.m. for students and their families.

At 4 p.m. Friday, the Marshall University Foundation and Alumni Association will celebrate the 25th and 50th classes on the patio of Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall. The 1998 and 1973 class members are also invited to participate in Marshall’s Homecoming parade at 6 p.m.

The Homecoming parade will march down the streets of Huntington, featuring Gary G. and Jo Ann White as grand marshals. Gary White served as interim president of Marshall University from December 2014 to January 2016. A Marshall graduate, White is a former member and past chair of the Marshall University Board of Governors, as well as an accomplished businessman and leader in the coal mining industry.

The parade will begin on Fourth Avenue at 10th Street and travel east to Hal Greer Boulevard, where it will move up to Fifth Avenue and continue east to 17th Street at Harless Dining Hall. For those who are unable to attend the Homecoming parade in person, a livestream of the event may be viewed at

The annual bonfire is scheduled to take place immediately following the parade on Harless Field (located between Harless Dining Hall and City National Bank). Music will be played onsite by Kindred Communications. There will be special appearances by coaches, players, cheerleaders and more.

From 6:30-11 p.m., the Marshall University Alumni Association Board of Directors will host Homecoming StamFEED. Experience downtown Huntington as alumni, family and friends will tour the city’s best drinks and eats. Tickets are $60 and include a commemorative Homecoming 2023 glass. To purchase tickets, visit

At 7 p.m., Marshall University Black Alumni will host its inaugural Hall of Fame ceremony in Brad D. Smith Foundation Hall. Honorees include Mr. Roy Goines, Mr. Joseph Williams, Mr. and Mrs. William Redd, Dr. Kimberly Austin, Mr. Edward Starling Jr., Mr. and Mrs. William Smith, Mrs. Katherine Dooley and Mr. Sean Hornbuckle.

From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., The Glow Up Sneaker Ball, an event that encourages guests to wear their best fashions and coolest sneakers, will take place in the lobby of the Memorial Student Center. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For more information on this event, contact Corey Cunningham at

Saturday, Sept. 30

At 12:30 p.m., the annual Marshall Alumni and Family Tailgate will take place in the Joan C. Edwards Stadium East Lot, beside the Chris Cline Indoor Athletic Complex. The tailgate is hosted jointly by the Marshall University Alumni Association and Marshall University Black Alumni, and presented by Woodlands Retirement Community. The tailgate features food, drinks, music and special guest appearances. Tickets to attend are $20. For tickets, visit

A tailgate accompanying Parent and Family Weekend will take place on the Memorial Student Center Plaza at 12:30 p.m.. Intercultural Affairs will have a family gathering at 12:30 p.m. on the East Lawn.

The Thundering Herd will take on Old Dominion University at 3:30 p.m. at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. During halftime, the Homecoming Court will be crowned on the field.

Greek life at Marshall will compete in the Greek Stroll-Off Competition at 8 p.m. in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center. A stroll-off competition showcases a team’s agility, creativity and understanding of rhythm and dance as they show precision, synchronization, originality and showmanship. For more information on this event, contact Corey Cunningham at

Marshall University Black Alumni will host its annual Black Out Alumni Party from 8-11 p.m. in BE-5 of the Memorial Student Center. There will be a DJ, food and more!

To learn more about the week’s calendar of events, visit

Marshall University, the Marshall University Foundation and the Marshall University Alumni Association are excited to announce Gary G. and Jo Ann White will serve as grand marshals for the university’s 2023 Homecoming activities the week of Sept. 25-30.

“It is with great honor and gratitude we welcome Gary and Jo Ann White as grand marshals for our Homecoming celebrations,” said Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation. “Their steadfast commitment to Marshall University is unparalleled and we look forward to participating in our many Homecoming events with them later this month.”

Highlighting their role as grand marshals, the Whites will lead the annual Homecoming parade at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29. The popular parade is set to make its way down Fourth Avenue in Huntington before ending on campus. The parade will be a part of a full week of activities for this year’s Homecoming, “Super Marco: Level Up,” celebrating the history of video games throughout the years, as well as celebrating Marshall “leveling up” in stature.

Gary White served as interim president of Marshall from December 2014 to January 2016. A Marshall graduate, White is a former member and past chair of the Marshall University Board of Governors, as well as an accomplished businessman and leader in the coal mining industry.

The Whites are eager to return to the Huntington campus as grand marshals having enjoyed their roles as president and first lady nearly a decade ago, as well as their many years of involvement with the university before and after their tenure.

“We have been blessed to have more than 30 years of service to the university in various capacities,” the Whites said. “To be recognized for that service is indeed an honor.”

Gary and Jo Ann White are both from Logan, West Virginia, and were high school sweethearts graduating from Logan High School. It was there they raised their daughter, Jennifer.

Gary White is the principal of JRW LLC, a consulting firm, and president and CEO of Gilbert Development Inc. The Whites have been active in many nonprofits and organizations. Jo Ann White currently serves on the board of directors for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Huntington, and the Whites also operate the Gary G. and Jo Ann White Family Charitable Foundation.

Gary White was previously the executive vice president of Blackhawk Mining LLC. He was president and CEO of International Industries Inc. from 1992 to 2007. He also previously served as president and COO of International Resource Partners LP, a subsidiary of James River Coal Company, president and CEO of the West Virginia Coal Association, manager of underground mining at Amherst Coal Company and corporate training coordinator at Island Creek Coal Company.

Gary White serves on the board of directors for United Bank. He is a former member and vice president of the West Virginia Board of Education, and former member of the University of Pikeville Board of Trustees. He also served on the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission from 2013 until his appointment as interim president.

Gary White was one of four members of the Cabell Huntington Hospital Board of Directors who successfully negotiated Cabell’s purchase of St. Mary’s Medical Center. That purchase led to the creation of Mountain Health Network. He served as its interim CEO and conducted the national search to find its first CEO. Mountain Health Network and Marshall University recently announced an agreement in principle to form an academic health care system through the formal integration of Mountain Health Network, Marshall Health and Marshall University to form Marshall Health Network.

The Whites said they have long understood Marshall’s cultural significance in the Mountain State when it comes to higher education and economic development.

“We always felt welcome and at home,” Gary White said. “This atmosphere is the key to Marshall’s substantial contribution to the state of West Virginia, most particularly, southern West Virginia. Marshall is positioned to lead our state into the new economy. Under the leadership of President Brad D. Smith, I am convinced a transformation will occur over the next several years.”

In addition to the Homecoming parade, the Whites will also participate in other major events on and around campus leading up to the Homecoming football game against Old Dominion University on Saturday, Sept. 30. Other highlights of Homecoming week for alumni include the Unity Walk on Monday, Sept. 25; Party on the Plaza hosted by University Communications, the Alumni Association’s 25th and 50th Class Reunion, Marshall StamFEED presented by Jenkins Fenstermaker PLLC, and Marshall University Black Alumni’s Hall of Fame on Friday, Sept. 29; and the Marshall Alumni and Family Tailgate presented by Woodlands Retirement Community on Sept. 30.

In keeping with the spirit of the Homecoming theme and all the ways Marshall continues to “level up,” the Whites said in a time where some colleges and universities struggle, Marshall’s relevance continues to advance and set an example to others.

“Marshall continues to lead our state’s universities into the next generation of higher education,” the Whites said. “While this transformation began under the leadership of Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, President Smith has moved the bar exponentially to place Marshall at the forefront of responsible financial management and programmatic changes necessary to ensure our continuing success.”

More information about this year’s Homecoming can be found at

The Marshall University Foundation has announced that transport and logistics giant FedEx has gifted a jet engine from its fleet of aircraft to the Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program at Marshall University.

The engine, a General Electric CF6 motor from a retired McDonnel Douglas DC-10 aircraft, will be used in the daily classroom instruction of AMT students as they work toward their powerplant certification.

“Donations like the CF6 allow our students to have hands-on experience working on large transport category aircraft systems,” said Jim Smith, director of the AMT program at Marshall. “The CF6 is one of the most common large transport category engines in the world and will be what most of our students will work on when they enter the industry. Having a partner like FedEx provides our program with materials that we may not be able to acquire otherwise and helps provide our students with options in the industry which will enrich the overall student experience.”

FedEx provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. FedEx is world-renowned for its air delivery service, with a fleet of nearly 700 aircraft traveling to more than 220 countries and territories and a daily package volume of more than 6.3 million.

“FedEx is committed to supporting programs and aviation schools such as the fine one at Marshall University that enables students to explore the endless possibilities of careers in aircraft maintenance,” said Scott Ogden, vice president of aircraft maintenance at FedEx. “We need a new generation of technicians to keep the world flying, keep communities connected and keep the dream alive – that they, too, can soar with a career in aviation. FedEx donating retired aircraft, engines, and tools helps students have a more realistic approach to aircraft maintenance in their training.”

The Aviation Maintenance Technology program at Marshall, which launched in 2022 as a joint degree program with Mountwest Community and Technical College, provides training in aircraft maintenance technology where students learn to inspect, maintain and repair aircraft systems. The program, housed at Huntington’s Tri-State Airport, currently has 22 students, and is expected to grow to 30 for the fall semester.

The AMT program offers a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree through an 18-month, year-round program. Graduates receive an associate degree and are eligible to take the Airframe and Powerplant certification exams from the Federal Aviation Administration. The program is the first of its kind in the region.

Thanks to partners like FedEx, the program will only continue to grow to provide a strong workforce both regionally and around the world.

“Because FedEx has such a large presence with their daily aircraft operations, we knew it was vital to partner together to provide a talented workforce for the industry,” Smith said. “When we were developing this program, FedEx asked what they could do to help our program and they generously offered this engine. We are grateful to FedEx for helping make an impact on our students.”

The AMT program is part of Marshall’s larger Division of Aviation, which also includes a commercial pilot program through Marshall’s Bill Noe Flight School. For further information, contact Jim Smith, director of the AMT program, by e-mail at or by phone at 304-696-4832.

Marshall University and the Marshall University Foundation are extremely pleased to announce a transformative gift of $2 million from alumnus and current Board of Governors member Jim Smith and his wife, Pam Kushmerick, to support the new Marshall For All program at the university.

This generous donation is a testament to their commitment to empowering students and fostering innovation at Marshall. The gift will be allocated to support Marshall For All, a revolutionary program designed to help students earn their degree from Marshall debt-free.

“President Smith has an inspiring vision for Marshall University,” Jim Smith said. “Marshall For All is an important part of his plan and it addresses one of the biggest issues in higher education today. Pam and I feel blessed to be in a position to support this effort. We are both first-generation college graduates, so we understand the challenges – but more importantly the rewards – of that journey.”

The Marshall For All program allows Marshall students to combine scholarships, grants, work opportunities and family contributions to earn their bachelor’s degree without needing student loans. To qualify, students will need to complete a FAFSA annually and commit to actions such as graduating on time, pursuing work opportunities and participating in financial literacy programs.

The program, announced by Marshall University President Brad D. Smith in 2022, launched in the fall with new first-year West Virginians and metro area students. The university will scale up the program over the next decade.

President Smith expressed profound gratitude for the gift which will help launch the program, saying, “This remarkable gift exemplifies the boundless possibilities that arise when individuals passionately advocate for education. This gift will open doors to opportunity, elevate potential and extend the reach of our university’s impact in making Marshall the right choice for everyone. We are immensely grateful to Jim and Pam for their extraordinary generosity and dedication to Marshall and its students.”

Jim Smith is the former president and CEO of information and media giant Thomson Reuters. He is a 1981 graduate of Marshall, which he attended on a football scholarship. Smith has been inducted into Marshall’s College of Business Hall of Fame and was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by the university.

Smith spent more than three decades with the Thomson organization, starting in a newsroom and ending as president and CEO from 2012-20. Today he chairs the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a London-based charity focused on media freedom, the rule of law and access to justice.

He was appointed to the Marshall University Board of Governors by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice in 2022.

To learn more about the Marshall For All program, visit To learn more about philanthropic support of Marshall University, please visit or follow us on social media @ForMarshallU.

Almost every spring for the last three decades, hundreds of scholarship recipients, donors and their respective guests, as well as university faculty and staff, have gathered for the annual Scholarship Honor Brunch. The weather, often unpredictable, has allowed guests to don their springtime Sunday best one year and required their winter coats the next; but the lightning that strikes when a donor and individual beneficiary meet is always guaranteed.

Started in 1993, the scholarship reception, or “Tea” as it was referred to for several years, was started by the development arm of Marshall University to bring together the beneficiaries of privately funded scholarships with the philanthropists who made their awards possible.

Dr. Carolyn Hunter, the vice president for development when she retired in 2003, recalled fondly the desire the donors had to meet the students.

“At the time, we were surprised at the extent donors would want to be involved with their scholarship recipients,” Hunter said, “but folks loved interacting with their students.”

Jean Augustine, an administrative assistant in the Office of Development for 12 years in the mid-90s to late 2000s, grew the event from more than 100 people in attendance to crowds of 300-plus by the time of her retirement in 2007. Participants today still remember the receptions that Augustine coordinated and how she often allowed folks in the audience to “pass the mic” around.

“People enjoyed sharing their history with the group in attendance,” said Augustine, who encouraged Marshall students to attend scholarship receptions as well as write thank you letters to those from whom they were supported. “It does matter when people say thank you.”

Hunter remembers paying $43 dollars a semester for tuition when she attended Marshall for her undergraduate degree in the mid-1960s, and understands that as the years have passed, scholarships have become increasingly more vital to students and the accessibility of higher education.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO and senior vice president for development of the Marshall University Foundation since 2007, delivered a special welcome to more than 400 students and donors who attended this year’s event in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center.

“The Scholarship Honor Brunch brings together scholarship beneficiaries and award benefactors and highlights our mission to maximize continuous financial support for Marshall University and its students,” Area said. “We are absolutely committed to increasing the accessibility of education for our students and are thankful for the benevolence of our donors who truly support their Marshall family through their donations as well as their presence at this event.”

Marshall President Brad D. Smith and his wife Alys established their family scholarship in 2014 prior to serving as the president and first lady of Marshall University. President Smith, who served as the featured speaker for this year’s event, spoke about the role scholarships play in Marshall’s past, present and future success.

“Education is the great equalizer, but we know that the cost of an education is becoming more burdensome on our students,” Smith said. “Together, we have already built a strong foundation at Marshall, and I cannot wait to see what we can do to ensure Marshall for all, Marshall forever.”

To Nikki Riniti, a rising senior and theatre major who grew up in Wayne, West Virginia, scholarships are not only economically important, but they are also motivational.

“My scholarships are important to me for numerous reasons,” Riniti said. “They bring such a financial relief for me, especially as a first-generation college student. They act as a reminder of what I am working toward and show that my dedication is acknowledged. Through scholarships, I know that I am not only recognized but also appreciated.”

As a recipient of the W. B. “Bart” and Doris Andrews Fine Arts Scholarship, Riniti enjoyed being able to spend one-on-one time with the donor of her scholarship, Mrs. Doris Andrews, who often attends art exhibitions, concerts, and for Riniti, theatre performances, to support her scholarship recipients.

“She never fails to congratulate me on my work,” Riniti said. “She sends me sweet letters including newspaper clippings about my shows I am in. With our busy schedules, it is rare that I can see her in person, so the brunch is a wonderful opportunity for us to chat. We even got our first picture together!”

Riniti not only attended the 2023 Scholarship Honor Brunch as a recipient, she also performed in an interdisciplinary effort with the College of Arts and Media’s School of Theatre and Dance, along with the School of Music, put on as part of the program’s student entertainment; a sneak peek of a then, upcoming production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“The brunch also provided the theatre an opportunity to perform, which gives other people a look at what we do,” Riniti said. “We had so many people who had never seen a performance by us that were astounded by our work. That was the greatest gift of the brunch.”

With over 800 donor households and more than 1,600 individual students invited each year, Riniti recognized that the Scholarship Honor Brunch is a unique event with the diversity in the honors represented, the intermingling of different backgrounds and majors and the opportunity for students and donors alike to learn from one another.

“At the table with my donor were all types of different people and I got to hear about their programs,” Riniti said. “Amazing people got to share their talents with each other.”

As a coordinator for the event since 2013, Krystle Davis, senior director of donor relations with the Foundation, believes it’s the relationships that are formed between the donors and students that make this event unlike any other event on campus, and a highlight for participants who annually look forward to attending.

“Each table is thoughtfully curated with students and their specific donors, whenever possible,” Davis said. “With a list of thousands as possible attendees, it is truly a blessing when multiple donors and their specific students are both able to attend and be seated with one another. Our students are so very thankful for the impact scholarships have on the trajectory of their career as a student and beyond, and they truly enjoy being able to share a meal with the person who is directly involved in making their dream of an education, come true.”

At once a yearly letter, the Foundation sends bi-annual reports to the contacts of the scholarships that shares not only the financial status of the fund but the name, hometown, major, college and class year of the recipients. While the donors appreciate receiving those updates, Augustine believes there’s no substitute for the meetings over brunch.

“Nothing can take the place of face-to-face interactions between the student recipient and scholarship supporter,” Augustine said.

Dr. Hunter appreciated how the event has carried on and grown since its inception and echoed that, while the program and attendees of the event may vary from year to year, the importance of community fostered through this event has remained constant.

“Students and donors coming together to tell their stories is wonderful,” Hunter said.

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