WVPA Sharing

Gift to WVU School of Medicine establishes physical therapy scholarship for out-of-state students

WV Press Release Sharing

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Students drawn to the West Virginia University School of Medicine’s physical therapy program from other states will benefit from a new scholarship established by dedicated University supporters.

James and Joan Williams Waggy, of Charleston, West Virginia, contributed $500,000 to create the Williams/Waggy Physical Therapy Scholarship, which goes to out-of-state Doctor of Physical Therapy students with demonstrated financial need.

The couple’s gift was inspired by their daughter Carol Waggy, a longtime faculty member in the Division of Physical Therapy who talked with her parents about the need for scholarships to attract non-resident students.

Carol Waggy serves on the Division’s admissions committee, which strives to fill each class with a diverse group of well-qualified applicants from West Virginia and beyond. Yet, she often sees promising out-of-state students who are eager to attend WVU go elsewhere due to cost.

“As students and families already face many financial barriers to higher education, our program is constantly looking for ways to make PT school more accessible,” Ivan Mulligan, chair of the Division of Physical Therapy, said. “The Williams/Waggy Physical Therapy Scholarship will assist us in continuing to enroll high-quality non-resident students in our program. We are thankful and appreciate the Waggys’ generosity and support for our program and our students.”

The top priority of WVU’s PT program, which marked its 50th anniversary in 2022, is to educate the next generation of physical therapists to serve West Virginia. Since its inception in 1972, more than 1,200 physical therapists have graduated from WVU.

“I heard Carol talk about the need for scholarship money in physical therapy, and I thought, ‘Well, that’s something I could do that maybe nobody even knows about the need for it,’” Joan Waggy said.

The Waggys recently marked 40 years of giving to WVU, with many previous gifts benefiting Mountaineer athletics. Joan Waggy said she and her husband enjoyed bringing their children to sporting events when they were growing up, and the couple retained season football and basketball tickets for decades.

The Waggys are members of the Irvin Stewart and Woodburn Circle societies, honorary groups established by the WVU Foundation to recognize University supporters for their generosity.

“The University is important to the state, and it needs more support,” Joan Waggy said. “It’s very important, not just for the athletic interests of people but because of the good education they can receive.”

Joan worked as a secretary and her husband worked for Union Carbide until their retirement circa 1990. The couple’s two children both earned degrees from WVU.

The Waggys’ gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.