BUCKHANNON — A press conference was held on the West Virginia Wesleyan College campus at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, April 26, 2021 to announce the historic gift of the largest one-time contribution by a single living donor.
John F. McCuskey, WVWC class of ’69, and his family were present to announce the gift of $1.5 Million and the creation of The McCuskey Family Fellowship, an endowed scholarship that will be awarded annually to at least two incoming freshman and one rising sophomore. This year’s fellowship recipients will begin with research in the natural sciences and the family plans to expand fellowships into other fields in the Humanity Studies in the following years.
During the announcement, McCuskey shared his family’s deep roots with West Virginia Wesleyan College. His grandfather came to the same beautiful campus that still stands today to become an ordained Methodist preacher. He accomplished those goals in 1905 and became one in a graduating class of only five people. His grandfather McCuskey was called after 20 years to assume the Presidency of WVWC in the middle of the Great Depression. This family connection to WVWC, along with McCuskey’s own connection to the college, led him to honor his family’s commitment to the liberal arts.
“Having the opportunity to give back to something that gave so much to me over the years, the institution of Wesleyan, and to honor my family’s commitment to this institution in a meaningful way,” McCuskey said, “This was the perfect fit for me to be able to use my successes in life to help benefit others.” He was adamant that he wanted to be here to see the successes of the recipients and be able to follow them along through their life journeys.
Two of the three recipients—Abigail Bowe, ’24, of Charleston, West Virginia, and Logan Nelson, ’24, of Wenatchee, Washington—were present for the announcement. John Rose, ’24, of Wheeling, West Virginia, is remotely learning and was unable to be present. “I plan to become a doctor after medical school and with this research opportunity, it’s another great opportunity for me and it’s great for my resume,” said Nelson.
“Moving forward, this is going to give me direct hands-on experience that I wouldn’t have gained at any other school, and to get started so early is going to help me figure out exactly what I want to do. The fact that I will have a lasting effect and that I will be doing something different in the world at such a young age is really important to me and shows that I can do so much more through the school and through the fellowship,” said Bowe.
Bowe will be working with Dr. Bruce Anthony and investigating neuroplasticity in the brain after drug abuse to help improve drug abuse recovery therapies. Nelson will be working with Dr. Matthew Reid and will focus on plant and soil warming. Conducting this research through his fellowship will help Nelson to better understand the effect it has on plant productivity. Rose will be working with Dr. Joseph Wiest and his studies will be related to the current NASA Mars Mission. It will focus mainly on capturing energy and converting it to voltage creating a power source. The faculty and students are excited to see how this amazing gift will help push the students into a higher level of thinking.