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Shepherd University receives $1.2 million gift from alumni James and Katherine Moler

ISSUED: 21 May 2010
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
(Shepherd University receives $1.2 million gift from alumni James and Katherine Moler)

Shepherdstown, WV--The Shepherd University Foundation has announced the receipt of a $1.2 million gift from the James M. Moler Trust designated for the James and Katherine Moler Scholarship. The Molers, both of whom were Shepherd alumni, originally established the endowment in 1981 to support deserving West Virginia student athletes participating in the football program.

The late Dr. James M. "Hank" Moler, educator, state legislator, and community leader, was a founding father of the Shepherd University Foundation. His late wife, Katherine Watson Moler, retired after teaching 40 years in Jefferson and Berkeley counties and was a well-loved community figure.

"My generation knew James and Katherine Moler as exceptional educators and community servants. They both had a passion for education and a dream of creating scholarships for worthy students," said Ray Alvarez '62, president of the Shepherd University Foundation. "With this final act of exceptional generosity, future generations of Shepherd University students will know them for their vision and generosity."

Charles Town residents James and Katherine Moler devoted their lives to education and to serving their community and state. The Molers enjoyed travel and sports, especially college football, and held student athletes in high regard. Well into their 90s, they were fixtures at Shepherd football games in Ram Stadium and on the road. They admired the extra determination it takes to be a student athlete and felt strongly that any student who was capable of achieving a college degree should have the opportunity through scholarship support. For decades, the Molers were striking fixtures at Shepherd, attending countless commencements, receptions, lectures, and artistic performances. Hank, tall and imposing with a full head of silver hair, always had his petite wife Katherine at his side, and they led the way as models of philanthropic leadership.

Dr. Moler often spoke of his early challenges in attending Shepherd during the Great Depression. Living at home outside Charles Town and working before and after classes to meet the cost of tuition and books, he had no extra funds for transportation. He recounted his experiences walking and hitchhiking to and from the Shepherd campus in his quest for a degree. These early experiences led him to help Shepherd students through his generous scholarship support.

A lifelong educator, Dr. Moler earned a teaching certificate from Shepherd College in 1930. He went on to obtain a bachelor's degree from Berea College, a master's degree from Duke University, and a doctorate from the University of Virginia. Dr. Moler was a teacher for Jefferson County public schools and served as principal of Bakerton, Millville, and Wright Denny elementary schools. He served as president for the West Virginia Principals Association and, in 1959, joined the faculty of Shepherd College as a professor of education.

In July 1961, Dr. Moler was part of a small group of faculty and alumni who joined forces to incorporate the Shepherd College Foundation with the purpose of raising scholarship monies for deserving students who demonstrated financial need. Dr. Moler remained an active and influential administrator, volunteer, and donor throughout his 35-year involvement with the Foundation. In addition to acting as the organization's second president for an impressive 26 years, Dr. Moler served on its executive and investment committees and was influential in growing the Foundation's assets to $14 million at his retirement from the presidency in 1998. He and Katherine were charter members of the Joseph P. McMurran Society, which honors those who wish to provide for the future of Shepherd University with a planned gift or a bequest.

Upon his retirement from Shepherd College in 1972, Dr. Moler launched a second career in politics while continuing his volunteer work with the Foundation. He served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates for seven years, and continued to function as a lay member of the Legislative Interim Committee until 1987.

Dr. Moler is among Shepherd University's most distinguished alumni, for which he has been recognized numerous times. He was named Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in 1968 and awarded a doctor of humane letters honorary degree in 1991. In 1997, he was awarded the President's Medal, the highest award bestowed by Shepherd University's president. Additionally, Moler Hall, a residence hall on West Campus, was named in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Moler for their many contributions to Shepherd and to education in general.

With this most recent posthumous gift to his beloved alma mater, the endowment he and Katherine established nearly 30 years ago will produce significant annual awards for deserving Shepherd students who demonstrate financial need.

The receipt of this gift came a few months after the public announcement of Shepherd's first major fund raising comprehensive campaign. The $20 million Create campaign focuses on four priorities including inspiring student learning through endowed scholarship support. The campaign is led by Robert McMillan, well-known West Virginia businessman, co-chairs Jenny Allen, community activist, and Ray Alvarez, retired Honeywell executive, and a committee of alumni and friends.

Anyone wishing to contribute to or learn more about the James and Katherine Moler Scholarship, or create an endowment fund or other giving plan, may contact the Shepherd University Foundation, P.O. Box 5000, Shepherdstown, WV 25443, 304-876-5397.

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Katherine and James Moler

Shepherd University | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5000 | 800-344-5231 | FAX 304-876-3101
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