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The Joseph P. McMurran Society

A man of foresight and vision, Joseph P. McMurran served as the first principal of Shepherd College when the West Virginia State Legislature established it as a “state normal school” in 1872. During his decade-long tenure, Shepherd’s enrollment grew, the College issued its first catalogue in 1874, and the first degree – a master of English literature – was offered in 1879.

Recognized as Shepherd’s first president, Joseph McMurran set standards of academic excellence that required him to make personal financial sacrifices in order to keep the College open. Much like today, Shepherd struggled for financial security in its early years. People throughout the state believed that schools such as Shepherd were essential to their children’s education and could not be maintained without state support. But as Dean Gordon Slonaker wrote in his History of Shepherd College, “… the members of the legislature were inclined to follow a tight fisted policy when it came to the appropriation of funds.”  As a result, Professor McMurran struggled to secure funding for libraries, teacher salaries, and materials for instruction, often going into his own pockets to ensure that students had the resources necessary to receive a quality education.

The Joseph P. McMurran Society was established at Shepherd to honor those who have chosen to provide for the future of the University with a bequest or other planned gift.  Through his dedication to Shepherd, President McMurran began a tradition of philanthropy which is carried on today by the Society’s members


Joseph P. McMurran Society Member List

Joseph P. McMurran Society Dinner Reception




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Shepherd University Foundation | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5397 | 800-344-5231 | FAX 304-876-5004