Scholarship opportunities and educational resources for students at West Virginia University are growing thanks to a late alum’s legacy gifts. A recent $400,000 contribution from Rich Harrison’s trust boosts his total giving to nearly $4.5 million over the past year.
The latest estate gift provides $200,000 to WVU Athletics, $100,000 to the John Chambers College of Business and Economics and $100,000 to the College of Creative Arts. The gift is the third installment received by WVU from a trust Harrison established before his passing Nov. 4, 2019, in North Ridgeville, Ohio. Previous gifts were divided among the same three units.
A native of Clarksburg, West Virginia, Harrison earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Salem College and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from WVU in 1972. He served in the U.S. Navy and later worked as a human resource manager for Advanced Ceramics for 27 years before retiring in 2001.
Harrison’s gifts to WVU Athletics provide scholarships for student-athletes. He was a season ticket holder for WVU football and longtime supporter of the Mountaineer Athletic Club.
“WVU Athletics is thankful and appreciative of the gift from the trust of Rich Harrison, which will help fund our student-athlete scholarships,” Vice President and Director of Athletics Wren Baker said. “Our student-athletes have excelled in the classroom, and a perfect way to honor Mr. Harrison’s legacy is to continue our academic excellence as we prepare them to become future leaders. It is an honor for the Athletics Department to again be included in a gift from the Harrison Trust. We strive to represent our state and fans with excellence in competition and the classroom and student-athlete scholarships are a key step to achieving greatness.”
His gifts to the Chambers College will provide financial support to first-generation students, underrepresented minority students and students who have returned to WVU to finish their degrees.
“Being a student-first University means creating avenues to bolster our access mission and help to relieve financial burdens for all students,” Josh Hall, Milan Puskar Dean of the Chambers College, said. “I am grateful for the generosity of the late Richard Harrison to provide support to our first-generation, underrepresented minority and returning business students who are an integral part of our engaged community in the Chambers College.”
Harrison’s gifts to the College of Creative Arts support the All-Steinway Campaign, an effort by WVU to join approximately 150 other major universities across the country and throughout the world that use Steinway pianos exclusively.
“Our ability to give students in the College of Creative Arts the educational experiences they deserve is directly connected to the quality of instruments they use for practice, rehearsals and performances,” Keith Jackson, dean of the College of Creative Arts, said. “Rich’s gift, born of love for his late wife, is a long-lasting legacy for students and faculty in the CCA.”
The All-Steinway designation will also allow the college to partner with more than 1,500 Steinway Artists worldwide, enhancing master classes and performances at WVU and providing performance opportunities at Steinway Hall in New York and at Steinway events worldwide.
Harrison’s late wife, Deborah, enjoyed playing the organ for the congregation at St. James Catholic Church in Clarksburg prior to her passing in 2008. Together, they contributed to the All-Steinway Campaign, the Mountaineer Marching Band and other College of Creative Arts programs.
Harrison’s trust gifts were made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.