Francis McGreevy will never forget the way English professor Carter Bishop taught sentence diagramming.
The influence of educators like Bishop throughout his time as a student inspired West Virginia University alumnus McGreevy (B.S. Secondary Education, ’66; M.S. Industrial Relations, ’70) to become a teacher himself.
“That guy was a trip. He was a force to be feared in the classroom. But all of us look back on his classes as a real educational experience,” McGreevy said. “I remember standing up at the blackboard to diagram sentences, and they would cover the whole blackboard.”
McGreevy tried to replicate that same approach as a teacher at Wellsburg High School, Preston High School and Central Preston Junior High School in West Virginia.
“I tried to continue sentence diagramming when I went into teaching, but I found that there was such an attitude against it,” McGreevy said. “To me, there is nothing that makes more sense logically than diagramming sentences. You show the context of every word and how it fits into that context.”
Before coming to Morgantown, McGreevy studied at Potomac State College of WVU because of the campus’s close proximity to his hometown of Luke, Md.
Encouragement from PSC speech and journalism professor Elizabeth Atwater Alexander helped him narrow his career goals to English and speech education.
“I chose to study English and speech because I always had an affinity for those subjects, though I can’t figure out why. So many people told me that when they read my letters and papers that there was a gift there,” McGreevy said. “I never thought of it that way, but I’ve never had any problem expressing myself. Probably the easiest thing in the world for me to sit down and do is write a letter, for whatever purpose. It just pours out.”
The inspiration from so many English teachers motivated McGreevy to endow scholarships for English education from the combined estate he and late wife Nancy amassed from their careers. The Dr. Carter Bishop Scholarship will support English undergraduates while the Dr. Carolyn P. Atkins Scholarship will support the Student Athletes Speak Out program in the College of Education and Human Services.
“I always felt from the day I set foot at WVU that there would be a time, if I lived long enough, to see the point where I could pay back a debt that I thought was unpayable,” McGreevy said. “Being a WVU student meant so much to me.”
These scholarships are two of nine created by McGreevy. His previous gifts also established the Casey and Jennings Nestor scholarship in the Department of Biology, the Nancy G. McGreevy Endowed History Scholarship and the Ronald Lewis Doctoral Fellowship in the Department of History , the Fred and Becky Shaupp Business Scholarship in the College of Business and Economics and the Dr. John H. Dempsey Orthodontic Scholarship, the Judith Grubb Dental Hygiene Scholarship, and the Fred Wilson Dentistry Scholarship in the School of Dentistry.
This donation was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. Conducted by the WVU Foundation, the fundraising effort will run through December 2017.