Skip to main content

Steady support: WVU journalism alumna gives back for 40 years

Photo of Janet Shaffron with the text: 40 Years of Giving Back

A journey that started in Gary, West Virginia, led Janet Shaffron along winding country roads to West Virginia University all the way to Capitol Hill, with her enduring Mountaineer spirit accompanying her each step of the way.

Now retired with her professional career behind her, Shaffron is a lifetime member of the WVU Alumni Association and has been an avid financial supporter of her alma mater, making annual donations for four consecutive decades.

Throughout her youth in the small coalfield community in McDowell County, Shaffron always had an affinity for the state’s flagship university, and while she wasn’t sure exactly where her life and professional career would take her, she knew her first stop was in Morgantown.

“When I was a young kid, my dream was to go to WVU,” Shaffron said. “I did not apply to any other colleges.”

Shaffron initially planned to be a teacher, but after consulting a vocational counseling service, she decided to take the advice she was given and enroll in journalism school.

“It was the best decision of my life,” she said.

As a student at WVU, Shaffron wrote for The Daily Athenaeum and fondly recalls interviewing the voice of the Mountaineers Jack Fleming, reporting on the unveiling of the Mountaineer statue in front of the Mountainlair and other memorable events.

The influence and generosity of others helped Shaffron as the building blocks for her future career were being laid. As a scholarship recipient, Shaffron received financial resources that helped her succeed while allowing her to see the impact of philanthropic donations to WVU firsthand.

In the classrooms of Martin Hall, the late Paul Atkins was a professor who had a major impact on Shaffron’s education and experience at WVU.

“He taught me so much about writing and editing,” she said. “That stayed with me throughout my life.”

News and beyond

Shaffron graduated with her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1969 and quickly put her degree to use, working as a general assignment reporter at the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper for a year before moving into a similar role at The Enterprise in Lexington Park, Maryland.

By 1973, Shaffron was promoted to managing editor at The Enterprise, where she oversaw the day-to-day news editorial operations of the weekly publication in St. Mary’s County, Maryland.

After holding the managing editor position for six years and taking The Enterprise to new heights, Shaffron’s career pivoted from the newsroom to public service in 1980 when she became a press assistant and editor at the Office of the Prince George’s County Executive in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Following more than a year in her role in Prince George’s County, Shaffron took what would be her final job – one that she would hold for 30 years – as a senior aide serving as legislative director for U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf in Virginia’s 10th district.

“My job with Congressman Wolf was not only my final job, but it was by far the most fulfilling job of my life,” she said. “It was fulfilling working for a public servant who personified integrity and being a part of his work in Congress that made a positive difference not only in the lives of his constituents but those suffering human rights abuses worldwide.”

Even after her career transitioned from journalism to public service, Shaffron continued to lean on all she learned in Morgantown.

“I went back to my journalism degree from WVU because I used it every day in writing and editing,” said Shaffron, who was responsible for all written communications in Wolf’s office. “I was the de facto editor of the office. Everything that was written came through me.”

Shaffron retired from that position in 2011 and now focuses her time on the things she loves, including her family, travel, the choir at Calvary United Methodist Church and, of course, her Mountaineers. Shaffron resides in Harwood, Maryland, south of Annapolis, where her church is located.

Giving back

Janet Shaffron

Since 1982, Shaffron has made at least one annual donation to WVU, with gifts benefiting the now Reed College of Media, the WVU Athletic Department, the Mountaineer Marching Band, and other WVU Foundation and Alumni Association causes. 

“I felt that, over the years, I’ve been given so much through my education at WVU and where that led in my careers in journalism and public service,” Shaffron said. “Because of that successful career and the foundation I got at the WVU School of Journalism, I have been blessed to have the resources to be able to give back.”

Her gifts have ranged in dollar value, beginning around $50 each and eventually climbing by small increments over the years as her career and resources progressed.

“When I got out of college, you know you’re paying back student loans, and you hope to be able to contribute,” Shaffron said. “When I reached a point in my career where I did have the resources and I felt like I could make contributions, then I started doing that.” 

While her financial commitment to her alma mater has benefited the University and its students, Shaffron’s unwavering support of WVU is something she is proud to display and share with those around her.

Shaffron and her family, nine of whom are also WVU alumni, return to Morgantown at least once a year to attend a football game, and she can frequently be seen sharing a “Let’s go, Mountaineers!” with other friends of WVU any time they cross paths.

Follow Us

Get social. Connect and Engage.