Over the past five years, faculty members from the Marshall University Department of Chemistry have donated more than $50,000 to the Marshall University Foundation Inc., earning the department membership in the university’s John Marshall Society.
The John Marshall Society provides recognition to individuals, corporations and foundations that make significant gifts to the growth and development of Marshall University.
The foundation recently hosted a luncheon at which the faculty members received a certificate naming them as members of the prestigious society. Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp, Foundation CEO Ron Area and Vice President for Research John Maher attended the luncheon to congratulate the society’s newest members.
“This is the first time members of one of our academic departments have donated the income they have raised—in this case from lab manuals they wrote—back to the university,” said Area. “They’ve given well over $50,000, which has been put into a fund that supports students in the chemistry department. It’s just fabulous that they understand what philanthropy is all about and are willing to give back.”
About 12 years ago, faculty members in the department wrote two lab manuals for their freshman chemistry classes and agreed to collectively donate the proceeds to support their majors. Over the years, well over half of the department’s faculty have written labs or helped manage the manuals, said Dr. Michael Castellani, department chairman.
To date, the money raised has contributed to endowments for two undergraduate scholarships and three summer undergraduate research fellowships (SURF). Students work in the department’s research labs as part of both awards.
“Beginning in 2005, we used the proceeds from the lab manuals to leverage alumni donations,” Castellani said. “In that year, we wrote to alumni, pledging to fully support a student working in our labs in exchange for their donations to an endowment. After funding three SURF fellowships, we started a scholarship program for our majors.
“Since then,” he said, “we were added to the West Virginia Research Trust Fund program (“Bucks for Brains”), which provided a dollar-for-dollar match to the SURF fund for a few years and generated another $100,000.”
Castellani estimated the sum of the department’s endowments now to be at $325,000—all of it raised in partnership with their alumni.
“Original research, as part of the undergraduate curriculum and directly mentored by a faculty member, is one of the most important learning tools available to students. Because of this, we believe it is our responsibility to help as many students as possible participate and this is one way we can do that,” Castellani said.