During his 43 years at West Virginia University’s John Chambers College of Business and Economics, Professor Emeritus Adolph Neidermeyer always bid farewell to his students with a purposeful reminder: “Remember what WVU has done for you, and hopefully, when you are in a financial position to contribute, you’ll think about us.”
Many students have taken that message to heart, celebrating WVU’s role in their success with scholarship gifts. Each year, the Chambers College awards about $462,000 to students via 100-plus scholarships made possible thanks to the generous support of alumni and friends.
Those scholarship dollars have become particularly important – and meaningful to students – amid the challenges of COVID-19. Omotayo Oluwafemi, a Morgantown native majoring in economics, said the pandemic’s impact reinforced the immense value of her scholarships.
“My scholarships have completely eliminated that thought of having to worry about tuition, and I realize that is such a blessing and such an opportunity that you’ll never really be able to completely say thank you [for],” Oluwafemi said. “The only thing I feel like I can do is come back and do the same thing for someone else.”
Neidermeyer began encouraging that same spirit of giving when he joined WVU’s faculty in 1972. He recognized the power of scholarships in attracting top students and garnered faculty support to launch fundraising efforts within the Department of Accounting. By the time he retired in 2015, the department had raised more than $2 million for student scholarships and faculty development.
“Donating is a funny animal,” Neidermeyer said. “It’s funny in the sense, from WVU’s perspective, we are a public institution. So, most of the individuals that attend here say, ‘Well, it’s a public institution. That means the state of West Virginia and tuition [are] supporting the institiution.’ Well, in fact, if you look at the numbers, that is diminishing in terms of the percentage of support we receive from the government. In consequence, it’s important to nurture giving from those that have benefitted.”
Neidermeyer, who earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting at WVU, led by example. He and his wife established an endowed scholarship fund for students who excel in personal financial planning courses, which Neidermeyer believes lay the foundation for a successful accounting career.
Many of Neidermeyer’s former students have generously contributed to WVU – including financier Robert Reynolds, who donated $10 million to construct the Chambers College’s new home along the Monongahela River. Some have even made gifts in Neidermeyer’s honor, creating a peer tutoring program similar to the one that inspired him to teach and establishing an undergraduate scholarship to mark his retirement.
“It’s a very nice legacy to leave behind, I think,” Neidermeyer said. “…WVU’s been very good to me. It can’t be any more rewarding than to give back to those that have launched you.”
Junior Nina Han, of Morgantown, hopes to do just that after completing her bachelor’s degree in economics. Intrigued by the intersection of data analysis and public service, she hopes to work as a policy analyst and eventually pursue a master’s degree in public policy.
As a scholarship recipient, Han said she is motivated to achieve because she knows others are invested in her success. She works as a part-time student technician within the Chambers College, and she is a founding member of the Women in Business club, for which she will serve as president during the 2020-’21 academic year.
Han is grateful to the donors who allowed her to take advantage of the many opportunities the Chambers College has to offer.
“Your generosity has directly impacted my life and countless other students as well,” Han said. “The thing about scholarships is it allows students – no matter your financial background or socioeconomic status – to attend college and further their education, which is something really special.”
Oluwafemi intends to apply her economics education as a financial consultant. She plans to work with clients to grow their portfolios in the United States and abroad before returning to higher education to share her expertise as a professor. Scholarships have given her the freedom to participate in professional competitions, join different organizations, explore career paths and learn from visiting alumni.
“Being part of the Chambers College and building this network and being able to even be an alumn[a] is such an amazing opportunity,” Oluwafemi said. “You see so many people come back to this college and give back – whether it’s their time, their money, their guidance, their support – and it’s just an amazing thing to know that that’s something I’ll be able to do one day.”
Thanks to WVU’s strong leadership, close ties with alumni and giving tradition, Neidermeyer said he’s confident WVU and the Chambers College, specifically, will rebound quickly from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think now – with the new name, new building – the future of the College is bright,” he said.
Gifts to the Chambers College are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University. To explore scholarship gift options, contact Assistant Dean for Development Abigail Esguerra at 304-293-8888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Are Stronger Together, a special fundraising initiative launched by the WVU Foundation, aims to boost unrestricted scholarship support for students in need – at the Chambers College and beyond – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure your gift directly impacts a Chambers College student, visit the School’s secure scholarship giving page.