Kopp addresses Herd dinner

VIENNA – Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp focused on the improvements to the university’s programs and facilities while speaking Monday at the Marshall University Alumni Thundering Bison Club of the MOV’s Scholarship and Vision Campaign fundraiser dinner.

Kopp’s speech focused on how the university has grown in the nine years since he assumed the presidency. He spoke of how all of the university’s efforts have resulted in a rating upgrade for the university in the past few years.

In an effort to provide modern facilities for Marshall students without becoming a burden on debt services or affecting the university’s bottom line, the university has financed some construction through promising a portion of future residency fees and user costs.

Buildings ranging from sports facilities to engineering buildings and apartment-style dorms have been built on campus over the past few years, Kopp said. The university plans to continue expanding in the near future, he said.

State Supreme Court Justice Menis Ketchum spoke highly of Kopp and his efforts at the university, praising Kopp for establishing three colleges during his first nine years.

“Marshall has the only accredited digital forensics program in the world,” Ketchum said, citing this as one reason why Marshall has been doing so well in recent years.

More than 300 tickets were sold for the evening event at Grand Pointe Conference Center to raise money for the scholarships and vision campaign. Fred Rader was master of ceremonies for the evening.

There was a silent auction with dozens of items for bidding and two autographed items were sold in a live auction. A “Fat Head” wall decal signed by Chad Pennington and a New England Patriots football autographed by Randy Moss together brought in more than $2,000 for the cause.

The funds raised throughout the evening will be divided with portions going to fund scholarships sending Mid-Ohio Valley students to Marshall University and part going to fund the Vision Campaign, said Rader.

The Vision Campaign set out to provide $20 million of $33 million needed to work on the stadium, indoor practice facilities, the Marshall athletic hall of fame, the student athletic academic center, and the sports medicine research facility, said Rader.

This year’s fundraiser honored local businessman Joe Roedersheimer, owner of the North End Tavern and Brewing Co. and Marshall allumnus from 1972.

Roedersheimer accepted his award, a Marshall watch, while wearing a green Marshall apron as if he were working instead of receiving an award. He gave matching aprons to several in the audience, including Pennington and several seated at his sponsored tables.

During his speech, Roedersheimer compared former Marshall and NFL quarterback Pennington to Peyton Manning, an NFL star and a spokesman for Papa John’s Pizza restaurants.

“So I’ll expect you to show up at the NET for work this week,” Roedersheimer said to Pennington from the podium. “We’ve got some cheeseburger pizzas to make!”

Pennington shouted back that he agreed and accepted Roedersheimer’s gift of a green apron happily.

Roedersheimer has been an active part of the Marshall alumni association for more than 40 years, he said. He has been working to spread awareness for the university since he graduated, he said.

“He has been supporting us for decades and is willing to do whatever he can to help us,” said Laurie Martin, president of the Marshall University Alumni Thundering Bison Club. “He is very deserving of this award,” she said.

Mike Hamrick, director of athletics at Marshall University, announced that the Vision Campaign is close to reaching its $20 million goal for the building of facilities on campus, thanks to the help of Marshall supporters and alumni in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

The evening ended with the keynote speaker Pennington speaking to the crowd about the importance of supporting the university and future generations of students.