December 2007 News Releases

Wednesday December 26, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Bridge Campaign surpasses half of goal

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University's Bridge Campaign, launched during homecoming festivities this past October, has reached more than half of a $16 million goal.

"We are pleased to report that during the early stages of this campaign we have secured nearly $8.4 million in commitments for the three Bridge Campaign projects," said Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation, Inc. "We are enthusiastic about the momentum behind this campaign, and feel confident that our alumni and friends will continue to support this effort."

The Bridge Campaign is a focused initiative led by The Marshall University Foundation, Inc. to connect academics, alumni and athletic programming through the construction of three new facilities. Construction began earlier this fall on two of the three Bridge projects: a 16,000-square-foot Engineering Laboratory for the newly reinstated engineering program, and a new women's softball complex resulting from demolition of the old field to make way for new residence halls and a student recreation center.

Construction on a new building to house the University's alumni relations staff and programs in addition to the Marshall University Foundation, Inc. and Development offices will begin in early 2008. 

For more information, visit the Marshall University Foundation, Inc. Web site at or call (304) 696-3292.


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Monday December 24, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Statement of Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp on the loss of Leah Hickman

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - "This outcome was not the way we had hoped the search for Leah Hickman would culminate. The Marshall community and the citizens of Huntington are saddened by her loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and everyone who was touched by Leah's life. She will be missed."

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Thursday December 20, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

South Point freshman wins first Commemorative Plate Design Contest

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Andy Burgess, a Marshall University freshman from South Point, Ohio, is the winner of the first Commemorative Plate Design Contest sponsored by MU President and Mrs. Stephen J. Kopp.

The contest is the second in a series of student design competitions begun this year by President and Mrs. Kopp. The other, a Holiday Card Design Contest, was won by Julia Urban of Chesapeake, Ohio.

Burgess, who is majoring in graphic design, won $700 for his plate design. Second-place Jason Philabaun won $400 and third-place Miriah Dolen won $150.

Burgess' plate design is divided into six sections - three on the top and three on the bottom. He said he used basic line drawings to illustrate Marshall's progression through the years.

"I just wanted to incorporate Marshall's start with what it is today," Burgess said. He said he used computer programs to create his final design.

"I was really surprised, I really didn't expect to win," he said. "It was a good feeling. I think it's a great competition. It's really a good opportunity for anyone, but mainly for the people in the art department."

Burgess may be reached by calling (740) 894-5049 or via e-mail at silvusvalentine@hotmail.c

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Wednesday December 19, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Candlelight vigil for missing Marshall student set for Thursday

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Friends of Leah Hickman, the Marshall University student reported missing since Friday, Dec. 14, will conduct a candlelight vigil at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, on the Memorial Student Center plaza on the Huntington campus.

K.D. Crank, a Marshall student and close friend of Hickman's who is helping to organize the vigil, said it is open to the public. "We want Leah to know that we want her back; that we are searching for her. We are just looking for information that will give us hope," Crank said.

For more information, contact Crank at (304) 840-9225 or e-mail her at

Anyone who has information on Hickman's whereabouts is asked to call the Huntington Police Department at (304) 696-4444.

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Tuesday December 18, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Marshall to offer services during the holiday break

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Selected departments, offices and facilities at Marshall University's Huntington campus will be open for business at various times during the holiday break, which runs Dec. 21-Jan. 1, President Stephen J. Kopp announced today.

Kopp said it is important to have services available not only for Marshall's returning students, but for those considering attending MU in the future.

"We anticipate that people might need the services of our offices during the holiday break," Kopp said. "Some of our returning students might need to address certain issues or people in town visiting family might be considering Marshall as an education destination and want to visit or ask questions about the University. Our dedicated staff will do everything possible to assist them during this time."

Departments and facilities scheduled to be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21 and Thursday-Friday, Dec. 27-28, include Admissions, the Bursar's Office, Financial Aid, the Registrar's office, University College and the Recruitment and Welcome Center. University College will be working out of the Recruitment and Welcome Center.

The Marshall Bookstore will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21 and Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 26-28, and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31. Marshall's mailroom will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 21, 27, 28 and 31.

Also, Marshall's Development Office in the Erickson Alumni Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 21, 24 and 26. The Marshall University Foundation's office in Old Main 323 will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 27, 28 and 31.

Here is a list of some services that will be available during the break:

  • Admissions: phone and walk-in inquiries; credentials and applications
  • Bursar's Office: payment of tuition and fees, parking permits, loan counseling, payment plans, telephone correspondence and general student counseling 
  • Financial Aid: all services
  • Registrar: enrollment verification, degree verification, transcript services, re-admission and certification of VA benefits
  • University College: assisting students in good standing attempting to register
  • Welcome Center: answering questions, meeting with prospective students and scheduling campus tours

The Huntington campus will reopen on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008. Students will be back in class for the start of the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 14, 2008.

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Monday December 17, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Oak Hill resident wins TV during Jam the Cam VII

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Joe Elcess of Oak Hill, Ohio, won a 32-inch Toshiba LCD TV during Jam the Cam VII Sunday, Dec. 16 at Cam Henderson Center. The TV giveaway was sponsored by the Marshall University Alumni Association and Big Sandy Superstores.

Marshall's women's basketball team defeated Navy, 70-58, in Jam the Cam VII before a crowd of 927. Marshall improved its record to 6-4 while Navy fell to 2-9.

Elcess had the winning ticket in a drawing that took place during the first half. Everyone 18 and over was given a ticket as he or she entered Henderson Center.

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Friday December 14, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

MUAA to give away flat panel TV during 'Jam the Cam'

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Marshall University Alumni Association will give away a 32-inch flat panel TV Sunday to a fan attending the seventh annual "Jam the Cam" women's basketball game at Cam Henderson Center. The game between Marshall and Navy begins at 1 p.m.

Nancy Pelphrey, coordinator of alumni programs with the MUAA, said fans 18-and-older entering Henderson Center for the game will be given a ticket, entering them in the drawing. The winning number will be called during the first half of the game, and the winner will be recognized at halftime. Pelphrey said the person with the winning ticket must be present to claim the TV.

"The alumni association is excited to be a part of 'Jam the Cam,' which traditionally is one of the most popular games of the season," Pelphrey said. "We thank Big Sandy Superstores for sponsoring the TV give-away and we hope all Herd fans will come out Sunday and show their support by jamming the Cam."

The 2007 version of "Jam the Cam" will be a salute to United States military troops. All current and former military personnel will be admitted free by showing their military I.D. Admission will be $1 for all others.

The game will feature a military theme. The United States Marine Corps Color Guard will be present and a video presentation will be shown in honor of the troops. West Virginia legend Woody Williams, the oldest living recipient of the Medal of Honor, also will be present.

In its first six years, "Jam the Cam" attracted more than 24,000 fans, including a Marshall school record of 7,017 in 2004 for the Herd's game with the University of Kentucky.

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Thursday December 13, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Groundbreaking for Marshall Habitat House set for Monday, Dec. 17

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp will join with officials from Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity and the city of Huntington at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17 in a groundbreaking celebration for a Habitat House that MU faculty, staff and students will help build.

The groundbreaking will take place at 1930 Artisan Ave., the site chosen for construction of a house for Chris and Drema Page and their 4-year-old daughter, Shayna, according to Teddy Kluemper III, director of development and communications for Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity.

Prep work at the site actually began about a week ago. The house is expected to be ready for occupancy in about four months.

WHAT: Groundbreaking celebration for construction of a Habitat House, which Marshall University and Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity are teaming to build

WHEN: 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17

WHERE: 1930 Artisan Ave. in Huntington

The media are welcome to attend and cover the event.

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Thursday December 13, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Marshall students, staff and faculty complete Fitness Challenge

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Three teams won championships in the Marshall University Fitness Challenge, which wrapped up recently after a three-month run. The challenge was sponsored by the Marshall Health and Fitness Center.

Fourteen student teams, 17 teams representing residence hall floors and eight faculty/staff teams participated.

The first-place winner among student teams was Tower of Power. The residence hall champion was Twin Towers East second floor, and the first-place winner in the faculty/staff division was Shake & Bake (Computing Services).

Tower of Power's participants were Josh McMillion, Michael Cooper, Derek Lewis, Aaron Childers and Matthew Dial. Those who competed for Twin Towers East second floor were Dustin Campbell, Paul Blazer, Evan Fonner and Charles Sergeon. Shake and Bake participants were Mike Meyers, Dave Daniel, Steve Robinson, Iyad Kaddora, Corey Schaffer, Justin Holmes, Rebecca Fox-Gieg, Josh White, Dave Kendall and Taryn Amos.

According to Heather Smith, program coordinator with the fitness center, activities included strength training, walking, biking, racquetball, basketball, swimming, aerobic classes, intramural participation, nutrition seminars and many other types of exercise.  Winners received T-shirts, fitness equipment prize packs, and award certificates.

"In addition, participants made healthy lifestyle changes, developed new friendships and became motivated to dedicate time each week to improving their fitness levels," Smith said. She said the free program, which first began in January 2007, has had very positive results. 

The next Fitness Challenge will begin in January 2008 and run until spring break in March. Smith said all MU students and employees are welcome to take part, and start some "healthy competition" among peers.

For more information, contact the Health and Fitness Center at (304) 696-3653.

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Wednesday December 12, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Griffis named director of development for College of Fine Arts

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Huntington native and Marshall University alumna Melanie Griffis has recently returned to campus to serve as the new director of development for Marshall's College of Fine Arts.

Griffis will focus primarily on fundraising and work closely with Dean Donald Van Horn to develop priority initiatives. In addition, she will provide counsel on program and project development endeavors.

"We're so fortunate to have such talented students, gifted professors and leadership dedicated to fostering the arts on campus, in our communities and globally," Van Horn said. "And with Melanie's assistance, we hope to grow support and enhance funding for our programs."

One of Griffis' main priorities will be to expand scholarships for theatre and visual art students. She also hopes to sustain current scholarships for undergraduate students in music while developing opportunities for those students who want to continue their education within the college's graduate program.

Lance West, vice president for major gift development, said Griffis' previous experience in fundraising makes her an ideal member of the development team. She has more than 20 years experience consulting and leading fundraising efforts for nonprofit organizations and independent schools throughout Virginia.

"Her experience working closely with educational leaders, community members and donors is very important," West said. "But it's her love of Marshall that will be the cornerstone of her success."

A third-generation Marshall graduate, Griffis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1979. Her great grandfather, Floyd Morris, began the tradition when he graduated from what was then known as Marshall College Normal School in 1904. Her father, Robert Griffis, followed in 1956. Melanie Griffis' daughter continues the legacy as a Marshall freshman.

"I have my great grandfather's diploma hanging in my office. It reminds me of the importance of Marshall University education for my family," Griffis said. "It is also testimony to how important this institution is to so many families - past, present and future. I hope my great grandchildren carry on the tradition of learning and working for this institution."

Griffis can be reached by calling (304) 696-3686 or via e-mail at

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Tuesday December 11, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Build-A-Bear Workshop® creates 'We Are … Marshall' bear-sized T-shirt

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Build-A-Bear Workshop® has created an officially licensed "We Are … Marshall" bear-sized T-shirt, which can be purchased online or at the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Charleston Town Center Mall.  Build-A-Bear Workshop is the only global company that offers an interactive, make-your-own stuffed animal retail-entertainment experience.

"It's very significant for Marshall University to have its brand associated with a well-known and well-respected specialty retail company such as Build-A-Bear Workshop," said Kemmeth Rivers, director of marketing and branding at Marshall.

The T-shirts may be purchased individually online or in the store.  Fully dressed bears wearing complete boy or girl Marshall outfits can be ordered online. 

The boy outfit includes a "We Are … Marshall" T-shirt, faded denim jeans, black canvas high tops and a red and blue backpack. The girl outfit includes a "We Are … Marshall" T-shirt, a rhinestone denim skirt, white mule Skechers® shoes and a pink camera cell phone. The bears with fashions and accessories retail for about $40.

"Or, you can customize your own 'We Are … Marshall' bear by choosing from dozens of different accessories that they offer," Rivers said.

"Marshall University has long been recognized for its courage and perseverance," said Maxine Clark, founder and chief executive bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop.  "We are proud to have worked closely with the university to create these teddy bear T-shirts with the motto that reflects the school's determination and strength of character."

Founded in St. Louis in 1997, Build-A-Bear Workshop currently operates more than 300 stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland and France.  The addition of franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia makes Build-A-Bear Workshop the leader in interactive retail. 

For more information, call 888 (560) BEAR (2327) or visit the company's Web sites at and

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Monday December 10, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Julia Urban wins first Holiday Card Design Contest

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Julia Urban of Chesapeake, Ohio, a May 2007 graduate in Marshall University's College of Fine Arts and a current MU graduate student majoring in graphic design, is the winner of the first Holiday Card Design Contest sponsored by Marshall President and Mrs. Stephen J. Kopp.

The contest is the first of a series of student design competitions initiated by President and Mrs. Kopp, according to Byron Clercx, chair of Marshall's Department of Art and Design.

"We are grateful to President and Mrs. Kopp for recognizing and rewarding the creative acumen art and design students bring to a practical visual challenge," Clercx said.

"Jane and I decided to initiate and support this competition as a way of recognizing and showcasing the amazing artistic talent of our students," President Kopp said. "The holiday card that Julia designed will be mailed to everyone on our list and she is featured as the card creator."

Clercx said more than 50 students ranging from freshman to graduate students entered the Holiday Card Design Contest.

"The art and design faculty was instrumental in the high number of quality student responses to the competition, which made choosing a winner challenging for the design selection committee," Clercx said.

Urban won $700 for her holiday card design. It features a buffalo covered in snow walking above the words, "There is snow place like MARSHALL." Mika Kanai of Huntington took second place and was awarded $400, and Tonya Rayburn of Eleanor, W.Va., took third place and received $150.

Mary Grassell, a professor of design in Marshall's Department of Art and Design, worked closely with Urban, helping her with the production side of the contest.

"Julia is a good, solid designer, a very competent designer," Grassell said. "Winning this competition gives her a push into the limelight and shows her that she does do good work. It has put a smile on her face and given her confidence to know that she was the best in this contest."

Urban said she wanted to portray a snowy scene with an image of a buffalo on her card.

"I soon developed the idea of a snow buffalo instead of your ordinary snowman," she said. Urban created snowflakes throughout the card, then added the phrase, "There is snow place like Marshall," which she said connects the idea of snow and Marshall University to the snow buffalo.

Grassell agreed with Clercx that the contest received a positive response from Marshall's students.

"They liked it; they seemed to enjoy the competition," she said. "It's been good for them. It helps them feel more like they are important to the university."

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Friday December 7, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Washington Post selects 'FDR' as one of top 5 non-fiction books of '07

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The Washington Post, in its Dec. 2 issue, selected FDR, a comprehensive biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Marshall University professor Jean Edward Smith, as one of the top five non-fiction books of 2007.

Other books in the top five are Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee; Ralph Ellison: A Biography, by Arnold Rampersad; The Unnatural History of the Sea, by Callum Roberts; and The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, by Diane Ackerman.

In reviewing FDR, Jonathan Yardley, book critic for the Post, said FDR is "a model presidential biography. Now, at last, we have the book that is right for the man."

FDR, an 880-page hardcover book, was released last spring. Smith was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for his biography of Ulysses Grant.

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Thursday December 6, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Grant will help Marshall University do critical research to support NASA's technology needs

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall University recently was awarded $99,659 through the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation's Innovative Research initiative for research that supports NASA's latest critical technology needs.

Through this initiative, the WVHTC Foundation seeks to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector and strengthen the role of university and small business collaborations in meeting federal research and development needs. 

The project is being headed by Marshall University Professor of Chemistry Dr. Mike Norton.  Norton is a pioneer in the emerging field of nanotechnology, which involves the designing and building of materials and devices from molecular components.  The National Science Foundation estimates the market for nanotechnology products and services will reach $1 trillion by 2015. 

NASA's Next Generation Space Exploration efforts require the development of new materials to ensure mission safety and success.  Norton is performing an analysis of nanoscale composite materials which will provide new functionalities.  These experiments are being performed at the Molecular and Biological Imaging Center ( ) at Marshall.  

The computational costs of identifying DNA sequences are typically high. Therefore, research efforts have utilized the Global Grid Exchange® (G2EX), a collaborative grid computing effort between Parabon® Computation, Inc., and the WVHTC Foundation. G2EX provides a low-cost alternative to traditional supercomputing resources by harnessing the idle processing capacity of donors' computers around the globe and creating a network which acts like a giant parallel processing supercomputer.  G2EX provides a platform ideally suited for this type of research.

The Molecular and Biological Imaging Center has focused its research efforts on the development of nanoscale optical, electronic and structural elements.  Nanotechnology holds promise for future NASA missions by reducing payload mass while providing enhanced functionality.  In order to realize these enhancements, structures with the locations of every atom must be designed, built, characterized and tested. 

The project is a collaborative effort between academia and small business entities. Optical elements are being designed to atomic specificity by Marshall University Postdoctoral Fellows Hong Zhong and Chad Huffman under the direction of Norton.  Several of these designs have been constructed and are now being characterized.

Simultaneously, software is being developed by programmers at Parabon Computation, Inc., under the direction of Dr. Steven Armentrout.  These efforts are aimed at validating the human-generated designs and developing an easy-to-use interface for the DNA design software.  This interface will allow for the rapid design of much more complex, integrated nanoscale systems that will be capable of meeting the strict performance and weight specifications of future NASA missions.   

The WVHTC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Fairmont, W.Va., functioning as an engine of economic change for growing a statewide and regional high-tech business sector.  The foundation has established a multi-faceted approach to maximize economic development, including infrastructure development, research and development, commercialization and workforce development.

For more information, contact Norton at (304) 696-6627.

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Tuesday December 4, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Work set to begin on Habitat House sponsored by Marshall

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Prep work is set to begin Wednesday on the Habitat House that Marshall University and Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity are teaming to build in Huntington for a family of three.

Marshall and Habitat for Humanity announced the partnership, the first on a project of this scale between the two organizations, last summer. The house, which will be the 64th built by Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity, is expected to be ready for occupancy in about three months.

Teddy Kluemper III, director of development and communications for Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity, said the house will be built at 1930 Artisan Ave., which is near the Marshall campus.

"Marshall University always has and continues to be a leader in so many ways for this community," Kluemper said. "As the director of development for Habitat, a resident of the city of Huntington, and alumnus of Marshall University, I could not be more excited about the contribution they are going to make to this city in the means of providing safe, decent and affordable housing. We are so blessed that the university has agreed to partner with us on such a landmark project."

A ceremonial groundbreaking will take place later this month, and a media event is planned for sometime in January after Marshall's students return for the second semester, which begins on Monday, Jan. 14.

Megan Barbour with MU's Student Affairs Office said interest among students wanting to help build the house has been great.  

"We have had an overwhelming amount of interest among students wanting to volunteer and I am enthusiastically optimistic that we will have an even more overwhelming turnout of volunteers throughout the build," Barbour said. "We are always looking for more volunteers and we have adequate work for anyone looking to help out."

Some volunteers are needed to help over the next two weeks. The majority of work to be done by volunteers, including students, student groups, faculty and staff, will be done after the holidays. To learn more about the project, including hours in which volunteers are needed, persons may call Habitat's office at (304) 523-4822.

Huntington Area Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry, whose mission is to partner with qualified families in need, and provide them the opportunity for safe, decent, affordable housing. To volunteer with the organization, visit

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Monday December 3, 2007
Contact: Dave Wellman, Director of Communications, (304) 696-7153

Marshall student wins $5,000 scholarship in BEA competition

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Adam Cavalier, a Marshall University junior from Montgomery, W.Va., recently won a $5,000 scholarship in the Broadcast Education Association's 2008-2009 competition.

Cavalier, production director with WMUL-FM, Marshall's public radio station, was among 13 students from 12 different campuses who were awarded scholarships in the competition. The winners were selected by the BEA Scholarship Committee at its fall meeting in Washington, D.C., according to Pete Orlik, committee chair.

Cavalier won the Abe Voron Scholarship, which goes to a person who is planning a career in radio. Dr. Corley Dennison, dean of Marshall's W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications, said Cavalier has a perfect 4.0 grade point average at MU.

"This scholarship is tremendous recognition of the hard work Adam has performed for the student media in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and for maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA," Dennison said. "I can speak for all of the faculty members in congratulating Adam as the winner of the 2008-2009 Abe Voron Scholarship."

Cavalier said he hopes to pursue a career doing radio play-by-play after he graduates from Marshall. He does a variety of sports broadcasts for WMUL-FM.

"Winning this scholarship is a true honor," Cavalier said. "Getting the award only validates what I am doing to prepare myself for my future and what I am doing as a student of Marshall University and the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications."

To qualify for the scholarship, Cavalier submitted an essay and letters of recommendation from Dennison, Dr. Chuck Bailey, professor of Radio-Television Production and Management in the School of Journalism and faculty manager of WMUL-FM, and Dan Hollis, professor of broadcast journalism at Marshall.

BEA scholarships are awarded to outstanding students for study on campuses that are institutional members of the organization. The BEA is the professional association for professors, industry professionals, graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in teaching and research related to electronic media and multimedia enterprises. Currently, there are more than 1,600 individual and institutional members.

Official recognition of Cavalier's award will take place during the annual meeting of the BEA, which runs April 17-19, 2008 in Las Vegas.

For more information, contact Cavalier at (304) 552-4519.

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