WCU couple establishes new scholarship

by Apr 11, 2014COMMUNITY sgadugi0 comments

CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University’s John “Jack” McFadden, professor emeritus of education, and Anna McFadden, director of academic engagement and IT governance in the Division of Information Technology, have donated more than $10,000 to endow a scholarship at WCU to assist aspiring science educators. The scholarship will be awarded annually starting in fall 2015 to a junior or senior who is pursuing a major in secondary education with the intention to teach science at the high-school level.

Dale Carpenter, dean of the College of Education and Allied Professions, said the creation of the scholarship speaks volumes about the commitment of the McFaddens, who both have worked in prekindergarten through 12th-grade education and higher education, and the commitment of WCU to prepare quality educators in “one of our most critical areas of need in schools in the state and region.”

WCU_Anna_Jack_McFadden“No one knows more about what makes good schools and good educators than they do, and no one understands better the critical needs we have for educators in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) areas,” said Carpenter. “When public school systems talk about their needs for educators, science is always mentioned as one of the top areas. That was true 30 years ago and is true today. This scholarship will benefit future educators, high school students and the region in general for years to come.”

The couple began thinking about boosting their giving after hearing Chancellor David O. Belcher discuss scholarship needs and after reading an issue of The Magazine of Western Carolina University focused on the topic.

“We read about the scholarships that had been endowed by people we admire such as Gurney Chambers and Beth Lofquist,” said Jack McFadden. “When we started thinking about our legacy, we wanted it to be connected in some way to WCU.”

They considered the need for quality science teachers.  Jack McFadden, whose undergraduate and master’s degrees were both in science education, worked as a secondary science teacher before entering higher education and ultimately joining the faculty at WCU, where his responsibilities included supervising student teachers. And when Anna McFadden worked as a high school principal, she was faced with a shortage of strong science teachers.

“Fortunately, I was able to hire three who were outstanding and whose students went on to do great things,” she said.

They also considered how much they have enjoyed their careers at WCU.  Residents of Sylva, Jack McFadden spent 33 years teaching on campus and Anna McFadden is in her 18th year, having served as a professor, department head and director of Coulter Faculty Commons before accepting a leadership role in the Division of IT.

“We not only love the institution and feel it has been good to us, but also believe in the mission of Western in its service to the region,” said Anna McFadden.

Jack McFadden said endowing the scholarship also was simply about wanting to give back.

“I was able to get an education through the GI Bill and the National Science Foundation,” he said. “I found myself in a position to do this for someone else and helping a Western student seemed appropriate.”

Richard Starnes, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said scholarships such as the one created by the McFaddens are important to make college attendance an achievable dream for many students.

“Through this gift, Jack and Anna McFadden will help students turn their dreams into realities,” said Starnes. “It also will help WCU provide excellent science teachers to North Carolina high schools.”