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Hall family commitment to WVU continues with creation of graduate fellowship

on Tue, 06/28/2011 - 08:00

Graduating seven members of the family from West Virginia University is an impressive feat. Holding 12 WVU degrees between these seven is even more impressive. This only begins to show the James Hall family’s commitment to WVU and higher education.

A decorated engineer and professor, John F. Hall was inspired by his parents from a young age to pursue a continuing education. With his father a chemistry professor at WVU, Hall was also taught the importance of educational research. In honor of his parents, Betty Hall of Morgantown and the late Dr. James Hall, John and his wife Nancy Lan have established a graduate fellowship to help inspire students to continue their education at WVU.

“My parents were very supportive of education and always encouraged us to go far,” John Hall said. “We were also encouraged to continue learning and always take the next step and face the next challenge in our lives.”

John and Nancy have pledged $100,000 to establish the James and Betty Hall Fellowship. The gift will qualify for a match from the state’s Research Trust Fund, bringing the total investment to $200,000. The fellowship will be used for the benefit of a graduate student within the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. Eligible students will be advancing research in energy and environmental sciences, and/or biological, biotechnological, and biomedical sciences.

"We are delighted to add this new graduate research fellowship to the College to support deserving students," said Gene Cilento, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. "We are very appreciative of the generous gift being provided by Dr. John Hall because it will help the College recruit the most qualified students to engineering graduate studies. Their gift also will be matched by the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, which doubles the impact of the fellowship award provided."

John Hall graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1973. He went on to receive a master’s degree in structural engineering from the University of Illinois and a doctorate degree in earthquake engineering and seismology from University of California- Berkeley.

Other family members with degrees from WVU are Hall’s parents, both of his brothers and their wives.

As an engineer specializing in earthquake engineering, Hall is widely known for his work within the field. He has served as a member of the Consulting Boards for the California Division of Safety of Dams and Department of Transportation, secretary to the Governor’s Board of Inquiry into the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and managed a $6 million multi-university Federal Emergency Management Agency research project to improve the earthquake resistance of wood frame buildings. Hall’s wife Nancy holds a doctorate degree in biochemistry. Along with her research work in various university labs, she co-founded a company in the pharmaceutical industry.

“It represents my parents because they were such strong advocates of continuing education, and what better way to do that than to help a student to attend graduate school,” said Hall, in speaking of the fellowship. “The fact that it is an endowment also is attractive. It will be able to provide for students forever with the help of wise investing.”

Hall and Lan currently reside in Altadena, Ca. Married since 1983, the two are proud parents of a son, Galen Hall, a graduate of UC Berkeley who plans to begin work toward an MBA at Stanford in the fall.

In 2008, the state created the Research Trust Fund with an initial appropriation of $50 million ($35 million for WVU, $15 million for Marshall) to leverage public and private investments that will transform West Virginia's economy. WVU is able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support expansions to research faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, healthcare and job growth. To date, private gifts and pledges approved for RTF match total over $18.9 million.

The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the private, non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.