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Late alumnus leaves $250K to benefit WVU students

IsaacsWriting, literature and poetry students at West Virginia University will benefit from a gift from late alumnus and West Virginia native Russell L. Isaacs.

Isaacs, who died in April, left $252,000 in his estate to the WVU Foundation to provide scholarships to students in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Language in the planned gift calls for the donation to be put into the Rose Burton Isaacs Scholarship Fund, created by Isaacs and his sister, Maxine, in 1999 and named after their late mother, who was a teacher and poet. 

"Most students pursuing degrees in writing, literature or poetry are likely to end up in the Department of English, where we celebrate those things every day,” said Jim Harms, professor and chair of the WVU English Department. “This generous gift from Russell Isaacs allows that celebration to continue in the lives of some of these talented and deserving individuals, whose love of the word will now be better recognized and rewarded."

Isaacs earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from WVU in 1958. While he was a student, he served as the first president of the WVU Chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national accounting fraternity. After graduation, he joined an accounting firm in Charleston and went on to become a highly successful accountant and businessman in the area.

Isaacs served on numerous boards across the state during his lifetime, including the West Virginia Board of Regents, WVU Board of Governors (2003-2007) and on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors (1984-1993). He volunteered much of his life to improving the state and its flagship university.

Isaacs was a life member of the WVU Alumni Association’s Old Gold Club, and in 2008, he received the David W. Jacobs Lifetime Service Award, an award that recognizes support and lifelong service to the WVU Alumni Association. 

His wife, Jill Wilson, said her husband loved all things WVU.

“My husband bled gold and blue, and education was a huge priority for him,” Wilson said. “I know he would be incredibly happy that the scholarship fund named for his mother, a teacher, is growing and helping others.”

This gift was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The fundraising effort by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December.