Marshall University officials announced
late last week that a $150,000 donation from Allied Realty Company, $100,000 of
which was to the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, had allowed
them to reach a $15 million ‘Bucks for Brains’ goal.
The West Virginia
Legislature created the West Virginia Research Trust Fund in 2008. Through the initial appropriation the fund
would match $15 million in research funds raised by Marshall University
and $35 million raised by West
WVU met their goal last year.
John Maher, the Vice President for Research, said it is exciting to see things work like they had hoped.
“I think we felt very, from an
institutional point of view, we felt great about it, I think we were able to see
very early on that some folks who understood research and worked with research
as part of their lives were very eager to step up for this program and then
other folks who were willing to be educated about it were able to step up as
well,” Maher said.
The money raised has allowed Marshall to
create 16 new research endowments and will increase the university’s overall
endowment by more than 15 percent. The original agreement was that all money
raised would be met by the state until July 1, 2015. Maher noted that donations
were slow in the beginning.
“I think during the course of it, when
people were going 'hey year one has gone by and Marshall has only raised
$400,000 out of their $15 million, what’s going on?' We could turn to our own
efforts and say we have to talk to people first. There is a 2-3 year lag time
and we could also say this is exactly the trajectory that the program followed
when it was in Kentucky,” Maher said.
State officials modeled the program
after a similar effort in Kentucky. At Marshall the West Virginia Research
Trust Fund has supported research in biotechnology, aging and dementia,
engineering, chemistry and biology, transportation, obstetrics and gynecology,
sports medicine and occupational and environmental health.
Maher said programs
like this help research at Marshall stay ahead of the curve.
“Research is not something magical, it
doesn’t generate money by itself, it is like anything else that is
scientifically or entrepreneurially oriented, you have to make an investment of
time and money to achieve results and the resources that are coming from the
endowments allow the investment in personnel and equipment,” Maher said.
Marshall University President Stephen
Kopp said despite doubts from others they always thought the program could work
“It’s affirmation I guess, that we said
we would do. We’ve done it and I think 'did I stick my neck out saying we could do
this?' Yeah, that’s part of leadership and the leadership challenge, but it’s
important that we set high expectations for what we could do here at Marshall
University and then roll up our sleeves and work our tails off to achieve what
we’re setting out to achieve,” Kopp said.
Kopp said there is even hope the
legislature might consider expanding the program.
“If the legislature decides to reinvest
in the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, I think that will be a very sound
investment well into the future. If they choose to do it annually, that’s fine;
if they choose to do it like last time with a larger figure, that’s fine too. Whatever the state sets up we’re energized to keep moving,” Kopp said.
Maher said even with this achievement,
research at Marshall and in the state still needs to expand.
“West Virginia is not where it needs to
be in the national scientific rankings. We’ve been working very hard over the last
15-20 years, very hard in West Virginia to change that, and going forward we
still need to address that challenge of making West Virginia a place where
scientists know that they can come and do effective work,” Maher said.
Marshall expects a surplus of nearly a
million in research donations after all the money is in.