AEP Foundation gift to support research at Marshall University

Monday, September 12, 2011

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University has received a $750,000 gift from the American Electric Power Foundation to establish a research endowment.

The donation is expected to be matched through the state’s “Bucks for Brains” West Virginia Research Trust Fund, for a total benefit to Marshall of $1.5 million.

Proceeds from the endowment will be used to support the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and the institute’s collaborations with other research initiatives at the university. The donation is the largest single gift ever made by the foundation in West Virginia.

Charles Patton, president and chief operating officer for Appalachian Power, presented the donation to university representatives in a ceremony held during the third quarter of Saturday’s football game with Southern Miss at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

“The establishment of an endowment that will ultimately help attract and keep world-class researchers in the bioscience and engineering fields is an important advancement for Marshall University and the state of West Virginia,” Patton said. “We’re proud to be part of this exciting venture.”

Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, president of Marshall University, thanked the AEP Foundation for the contribution, saying, “The endowment that will be created as a result of this donation and the match from the state’s trust fund will go a long way toward our goal of developing a self-sustaining research enterprise that will advance local and regional economic development.”

Dr. Ron Area, chief executive officer of the Marshall University Foundation Inc., added, “We are most appreciative to the AEP Foundation for this generous gift. This is significant investment in research and the future of Marshall University and the entire region.”

The American Electric Power Foundation, which is based in Columbus, Ohio, is funded by American Electric Power and its utility operating units. The foundation focuses on improving lives through education from early childhood through higher education, protecting the environment, providing basic human services in the areas of hunger, housing, health and safety, and enriching life through art, music and cultural heritage.

The Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research was founded in 2008 with the goal of developing a focused program of pioneering research dedicated to producing patentable scientific breakthroughs and creating new high-tech businesses based on those discoveries. The institute is building on existing areas of research strength at Marshall and providing opportunities for collaborations with scientists already working at the university.

The state Legislature created the West Virginia Research Trust Fund in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $50 million–$15 million for Marshall and $35 million for West Virginia University. The universities can tap into this fund to double private gifts that support specific research initiatives linked to economic development, health care and job growth. Including the donation from the AEP Foundation, Marshall has raised more than $8.9 million in gifts and pledges toward its $15 million goal.