MU’s Bucks for Brains gets a boost
HUNTINGTON -- It wasn't all that long ago that the state's research trust fund, Bucks for Brains, was not looking promising.
The 2008 legislation provided a $50 million appropriation -- $15 million for Marshall University and $35 million for West Virginia University -- with each institution having five years to match the money.
With the recession, both universities got off to slow fundraising starts, but lately donations have been pouring in. The most recent was a $750,000 gift to Marshall from the American Electric Power Foundation to establish a research endowment. The state's match brings the total impact to $1.5 million.
Proceeds from the endowment will be used to support the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research and the institute's collaborations with other research initiatives at the university. The donation is the largest single gift ever made by the foundation in West Virginia.
Charles Patton, president and chief operating officer for Appalachian Power, presented the donation to university representatives in a ceremony held during the third quarter of Saturday's football game with Southern Miss at Marshall's Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
"The establishment of an endowment that will ultimately help attract and keep world-class researchers in the bioscience and engineering fields is an important advancement for Marshall University and the state of West Virginia," Patton said. "We're proud to be part of this exciting venture."
Marshall President Stephen Kopp said the endowment will go a long way toward the university's goal of developing a self-sustaining research enterprise that will advance the local and regional economic landscape.
Including the donation from the AEP Foundation, Marshall has raised more than $8.9 million in gifts and pledges toward its $15 million goal.
John Maher, Marshall's vice president for research, said the Bucks for Brains program has come a long way in the past 18 months.
"Sometimes it takes a while for donors to understand the program," Maher said. "Here we are and there's obviously been some big progress.
"We're at 60 percent of the goal right now. We have a ways to go, but it is looking very good," he said. "With donations like this one from AEP, we continue to climb toward the goal."
The Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research was founded in 2008 with the goal of developing a focused program of pioneering research dedicated to producing patentable scientific breakthroughs and creating new high-tech businesses based on those discoveries. The institute is building on existing areas of research strength at Marshall and providing opportunities for collaborations with scientists already working at the university.