Donors, scholarship recipients celebrate together at Marshall University

Monday, April 15, 2013

From left, Mr. Mark Hayes, Mrs. Loretta Hayes, Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation, Rebecca Hayes, Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp, and Mrs. Jane Kopp. Photo by Max Yang/Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - More than 200 Marshall University students and donors celebrated the giving and receiving of scholarships on April 13th at the Scholarship Honor Brunch at the Marshall University Foundation Hall, Home of the Erickson Alumni Center on MU’s Huntington campus.

Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation, said the annual event is important to both recipients and donors.

“Scholarship support is a wonderful way to make a difference for our students,” Area said. “Most students do write a letter of thanks to their donors, but to sit down and actually meet with them and to have their picture taken really does make a difference.”

Karen Riffle, a nontraditional student, spoke on behalf of the students. She thanked the late Lt. Col. Thurman Watts and his widow, Patricia Cooper Watts, for their scholarship and their “gracious and generous nature.”

“I feel it important to share my understanding that Col. Watts had a distinguished career in the United States Army and served in Vietnam,” Riffle said. “Upon learning of Col. Watts’ military career, I was deeply touched to have received this particular scholarship because our family is very veteran committed.”

Mark Hayes, son of former Marshall President Robert B. Hayes, spoke on behalf of the donors. The Ruth Harrison Hayes Memorial Scholarship is named after Mark Hayes’ late mother, and is awarded to orchestra performers at Marshall.

“My mother loved the performing arts,” Hayes said. “She loved the orchestra in particular. When she passed away in 1980 we wanted to do something in her memory and establishing a scholarship fund was clearly the appropriate thing to do.”

Hayes said Saturday was “a great day” at Marshall because of the honor brunch.

“I appreciate the fact that they encourage the recipients to come back to these events,” Hayes said. “We need to encourage the recipients when they are out and being successful to pay back. Private funding is a way to help the students that are deserving because of their talents and achievements.”

Riffle acknowledged the graciousness and generosity of the donors.

“I offer each of you my heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities which help to make the unattainable attainable and turn dreams into reality for the students of Marshall University,” she said.

Riffle said it is the students’ responsibility to leave Marshall University better than they found it upon arrival. She did just that as a nontraditional student, approaching Steve Hensley, dean of student affairs, with the idea that nontraditional students need to be oriented differently than traditional students.

“He advised that my formal request will be used as a starting point for such programming,” Riffle said. “It is rewarding to know that Marshall hears its students.”

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