(Deadline March 15th)
Dr. Paul A. Miller, WVU’s 15th president, attributes the beginning of his successful career to West Virginia 4-H and a Hancock County West Virginia University Extension Service agent who introduced him to the idea of attending college.
So Miller and his wife, Francena, felt it was fitting to establish the first WVU Extension presidential scholarship to benefit West Virginia 4-H members. The Paul A. and Francena L. Miller Presidential Scholarship will provide an eligible 4-H’er a guaranteed $3,000 a year for four years and marks the largest single scholarship WVU Extension Service has ever received.
“Until I got into 4-H at age 11, I don’t think I knew anything about college,” said Miller, who now resides in Columbia, Missouri, and, at 90 years old, still serves as an adjunct professor in rural sociology at the University of Missouri.
It was Hancock County WVU Extension Agent Walter C. Gumbel who spoke to Miller’s parents and “insisted that I become the first of my family line to have that experience. He was first among those who helped my parents and me to understand college attendance as more than an impossible dream,” said Miller.
Francena, originally from Ithaca, New York, earned her bachelor’s and master’s from Cornell and a doctorate from Penn State, where she taught until moving to WVU as the director of the Home Economics program in 1961.
She moved to the University of Connecticut in 1963 as the dean of the Home Economics program and then served as assistant director and executive director of the American Association of University Women from 1966-1968. She also served as the director of continuing education for women at Queens College in North Carolina.
The Paul A. and Francena L. Miller Presidential Scholarship was awarded for the first time for the 2008-2009 academic year. First preference is given to a 4-H member from Hancock County, where Paul grew up.
Miller said he owes much to the mentors he gained while a 4-H’er.
“I don’t think I would have ever been inspired to be the student I was in high school if it wasn’t for 4-H,” he said. “So Francena and I decided to do something of usefulness to other young people of 4-H to come.”
The gift was made through the WVU Foundation, a private non-profit corporation that generates and provides support for West Virginia University.