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Marshall Receives $1.3 Million from Donald B. Harper Estate; Gift Will Support Endowed College of Fine Arts Scholarship

Posted by kinchendavid on August 5, 2006

By DavidKinchen.com Staff

Huntington, WV  – Marshall University announced Friday, Aug. 4, 2006, that it has received a gift of $1.3 million from the estate of Donald B. Harper that will support an endowed scholarship in the university’s College of Fine Arts.

Harper, a 1950 Marshall graduate, established the Donald B. Harper Scholarship in 1995 to assist West Virginia residents in the College of Fine Arts.

The announcement from Michael Cornfeld, associate dean of the College of Fine Arts, came during a brunch for members of Marshall’s Heritage Society in the Drinko Library atrium. The unveiling of a plaque honoring Harper for his gift followed. The plaque is the 17th on MU’s Pathway of Prominence, which is reserved for those who have given at least $1 million to Marshall.

“Don Harper was a dedicated patron of all the arts and particularly those at Marshall,” Don Van Horn, dean of the College of Fine Arts, said. “He had a deep desire to help West Virginia students with interests in pursuing studies in art and design, music or theatre realize their dreams by coming to college. This desire manifested itself in the endowed scholarship Don established in the mid-1990s for West Virginia students majoring in fine arts at Marshall.”

John Kinzer, interim chief executive officer of the Marshall University Foundation, Inc., said the Donald Harper Endowed Scholarship is the largest scholarship gift from an individual the foundation has ever received. “This means so much to future Marshall students,” Kinzer said. “The fund will provide 12 to 15 scholarships in perpetuity. Donald Harper is an example of the Heritage Society members who give to Marshall University during their lives and also remember the university in their estate planning.”

Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp said gifts such as the one from Harper “make a compelling difference in the educational opportunities available to students. And, in doing so, they impact and transform student lives in meaningful and enduring ways,” he said.

Harper received his Bachelor of Science degree from Marshall and his MBA from Columbia University. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force and worked for the General Service Administration in Washington, D.C. After retiring in the 1980s, Harper returned to Huntington to care for his parents.

During Harper’s lifetime, the endowed scholarship had increased through his gifts from $25,000 to $85,000. Upon his death on Dec. 27, 2003, his trust was divided among Marshall, Trinity Episcopal Church and the Huntington Museum of Art, which resulted in Marshall receiving $1.3 million. Van Horn said the gift makes the endowed scholarship one of the largest specifically earmarked to a college on Marshall’s campus.

“Don was extremely proud of this scholarship,” Van Horn said. “He always joined the college at our annual Awards Convocation in the spring so he could be a part of the recognition of the scholarship recipients.”

Recipients of the Donald B. Harper Scholarship must be full-time sophomores and have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in their majors and a 2.5 GPA overall.

According to the scholarship guidelines, they also should have displayed talent in their majors, show potential for growth and have demonstrated a commitment to the fine arts. The award may be renewed for up to three years if the recipient maintains a 3.0 GPA.

“Students for generations to come will benefit from Don’s generosity,” Van Horn said. “The Don Harper scholarship fund will be large enough to enable us to provide substantial support to a number of our very best students. We are forever grateful to Don Harper for his vision.”

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