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English scholarship sustained through $650,000 gift

Few scholars can say they’ve impacted four generations of students.

Through the generosity of anonymous donors, late West Virginia University English department chair Carter Bishop’s legacy will continue for even more generations of Mountaineers through an annual scholarship fund. 

The Carter Bishop Memorial Scholarship Fund, endowed in 2005, was just sustained through an anonymous estate gift worth over $650,000.

Carter Bishop

Academia was a Bishop family tradition. Bishop’s father, Charles Edward Bishop, came to Morgantown from Williamsburg, Va. in 1911 to chair the Classical Languages Department. The two covered a span of four generations of Mountaineers.

Bishop was a professor in the English faculty from 1929-1960. He served as the chair of the Department of English from 1946-1950.  

“His combination of a formidable manner and wry humor made him a delight for the students,” wrote Ruel Foster, a late English professor and department chair from the 1960s, in an essay on Bishop’s life. “His humor was essential to his savor and his several thousand former students have never forgotten it.”

A family man, Bishop loved the traditions of his childhood. However, he never married—he only loved one woman and could “never forget her”—Queen Victoria. Instead, he created a substitute family from his circle of friends, regularly hosting feasts in his Sunnyside home. He considered food the “means of establishing community.

“Carter Bishop dedicated his life to education and building a community for his students where they could live, learn and laugh freely,” said Gregory Dunaway, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “This scholarship makes it possible to provide transformational experiences for students through the power of education for generations to come.”

Bishop lived in Morgantown until his death in 1968, residing in three different houses in Sunnyside, all located within 100 feet of each other. Vibrantly Victorian, Bishop had a passion for antiques. He lavishly decorated for Christmas, tirelessly baked fruit cakes with his students throughout the holiday season and distributing homemade canned fruit preserves as gifts.

Bishop enjoyed “playing the ‘Grammarian’ to the last,” wrote Foster, even correcting nurses after a heart attack who instructed him to “lay down” rather than “lie down.” 

"It would be impossible to overstate the significance of this gift on behalf of Carter Bishop,” said James Harms, chair of the Department of English. “For many years we've been able to honor Professor Bishop's legacy each spring with a scholarship in his name. Now that distinction will carry forward in perpetuity, and will allow us to more generously support deserving English majors from the state of West Virginia."

The Carter Bishop Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to an English student. The recipient must have a cumulative GPA of 3.2, demonstrate financial need and be of sophomore, junior or senior standing. Preference is given to graduates of Greenbrier West High School or residents of 33 counties in southern West Virginia.

More information about the Carter Bishop Memorial Scholarship and all Eberly College scholarships is available at eberly.wvu.edu/students/current-students/scholarships.

This donation was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. This $1 billion fundraising goal was reached in September 2016. Conducted by the WVU Foundation, the fundraising effort will run through December 2017. 

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