Official Newsletter of the Marshall University Alumni Association | November 2020
Diversity – Integrity – Loyalty – Pride – Respect
This Month, We Remember
Greetings Herd Alums!

This month, we pause.

We pause to remember the 75 lives lost on a rainy evening 50 years ago. This month, on November 14, 2020, the Marshall University community will come together to honor those lost in the deadliest sports tragedy in U.S. history with a special ceremony at the 50th Memorial Fountain Ceremony.

This historic event will bring together all facets of the Marshall family - both in person and virtually - as the Memorial Fountain’s water is turned off and 75 white roses are placed on the fountains’ brim remembering the 50th anniversary of the crash that claimed the lives of football players, staff, boosters and flight crew members.

While this year's ceremony will be different due to the ongoing pandemic, the sense of community and Marshall pride will live on regardless of whether we are able to gather together virtually or on the plaza.

Please join us on November 14 as we pause to remember and reflect. Full details about this year's ceremony can be found below.

Until then, enjoy reading this edition of Sons & Daughters. GO HERD!

Office of Alumni Relations
Matt Hayes
Larry Crum
Kasey Stevens
50th anniversary of plane
crash to be commemorated

This year, Nov. 14 marks 50 years since Southern Airways Flight 932 crashed with 75 Thundering Herd teammates, coaches, staff, supporters and flight crew members on board. Several events are planned to commemorate and honor those lives lost, but with added safety precautions amid the COVID-19 crisis.

On Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 10 a.m., the Marshall Football Memorial, designed by Vernon Howell, will be rededicated in a ceremony between the Marshall Rec Center and the Sorrell Maintenance Building on 20th Street in Huntington. The statue was originally dedicated in 1971 and housed at the Pi Kappa Alpha (ΠΚΑ) house on 5th Avenue. It was recently restored and relocated to the university’s Huntington campus. Due to safety concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony may be presented virtually. Please check for details.

On Friday, Nov. 13, at 4 p.m. in the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse, Marshall will honor each student who perished in the crash with a posthumous degree in their program of study. A total of 39 degrees will be awarded, each dated with the student’s anticipated graduation date. Due to safety restrictions related to COVID-19 on indoor event capacity and seating regulations, this event is by invitation only and masks are required. The university’s videographer and photographer will serve as the media pool and video and photos will be made available upon the conclusion of the event. The posthumous degree ceremony will also be available for viewing virtually.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, at 9 a.m., the 50th annual Memorial Fountain Ceremony will be held on the plaza. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, attendance on the plaza is by invitation only and masks are required. A limited amount of overflow seating for other guests will be available on nearby Buskirk Field, offering a large screen for viewing the ceremony and socially distanced seating; masks are required. Some musical portions of the ceremony may be shown via video on the plaza, in an effort to keep the number of people contributing to the program in person to a minimum. Plexiglass will be installed in front of the stage to separate the speakers from those in attendance. The ceremony will also be available for viewing via live stream.

On Saturday, Nov. 14, at noon, the Marshall University football team will take on Middle Tennessee State University at Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington. The 75 people who died in the crash will be honored in a variety of ways, including a moment of silence prior to kickoff.

Livestream information on the day of each event can be found on
#HerdHomecoming Was A Hit!

Marshall University students, faculty and staff joined with alumni from around the world during the week of Oct. 19-24 for the first Virtual Homecoming Week, featuring six days of social, educational, industry and networking events.

The virtual Homecoming week, titled “Herd @ Home,” featured a diverse range of activities for alumni and supporters of all ages. Events provided participants opportunities to interact with university officials, participate in games and win prizes, and take part in a behind-the-scenes look at campus in a series of events hosted on social media and live broadcast platforms.

The week concluded with the naming of Mr. and Miss Marshall, Mel Thomas and Kristen Shomo (pictured above alongside Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert and Homecoming Grand Marshal Allen Meadows), as well as Marshall's 20-9 victory over the FAU Owls in the annual Homecoming game.

Relive all of the excitement on the Marshall University Alumni Association Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels!
#HerdHomecoming Thank You!
Click on the link below for a very special #HerdHomecoming thank you message from the Marshall University Office of Alumni Relations!

Don't Miss Exploring
Marshall Video Series!

One of the most anticipated and celebrated items to emerge from Marshall's virtual Homecoming celebration is the Exploring Marshall video series, a special miniseries taking an in-depth look at the people and places that make Marshall University so special.

This series, created in collaboration between the Office of Alumni Relations and the Charleston, WV, area film studio Filmanatix, takes alumni, students, and supporters on a tour of all facets of campus - both new and old - and includes interviews with university leaders, community business owners, and individuals dedicated to the advancement of Marshall University.

In episode one, Familiar Faces & Places, we tour iconic locations such as the Memorial Student Center, Towers Residence Hall, Old Main, the Cam Henderson Center and more to see how those locations have changed and why they are celebrated on campus. In episode two, Marshall On The Rise, we look at some of the newer buildings and programs on campus, including the Weisberg Engineering Complex, the Rec, the Chris Cline Indoor Athletic Complex, the Chad Pennington Hall of Fame and more and explore how Marshall has grown over the past decade. Finally, we wrap up the series with episode three, Good Eats & Huntington Treats, by taking a tour of the hangouts, hot spots, and food joints around Huntington that we all know and love, plus see where current students spend their time.

You can view the entire Exploring Marshall series in 4K in the links below!

Combination of face-to-face, virtual and online classes to continue for spring semester
Marshall University officials announced that due to public health concerns surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the university will continue to offer a combination of face-to-face, virtual and online classes for the spring semester.

Virtual Homecoming Stampede 5K Thank You!
The Marshall University Office of Alumni Relations would like to say thank you to the hundreds of Herd Alums across the country that participated in this year's virtual Homecoming Stampede 5K!

While we are disappointed that we weren't able to hold this wonderful event in person, we were delighted to receive so many photos of alumni in their shirts and bibs running on treadmills, in their communities, on beaches - and even around the Marshall University campus!

We hope to be able to return to the traditional 5K next year, but until then we want to say a big thank you to everyone who participated in 2020! GO HERD!
C-USA announces men's, women's basketball schedules
Conference USA released the updated 2021 C-USA men's and women's basketball conference schedules after previously announcing changes to the format of the schedule and conference tournament.

This year's schedule will feature each team hosting four opponents for a two-game series and traveling to four different opponents for a two-game series, while playing a home-and-home with a rival to limit exposure to COVID-19 during travel this season.

Aviation Maintenance Technology program receives major boost
Marshall Aviation Technology and Maintenance program moved a significant step closer to takeoff with the announcement of a $1.36 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to fund startup and operating costs.

Marshall to be part of new Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center
West Virginia, birthplace of Chuck Yeager, the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound, will now be at the center of developing the next innovation in barrier-breaking transportation.

57th annual International
Festival to go virtual Nov. 7

It’s once again time for the annual Marshall University International Festival. Due to continuing COVID-19 concerns, the 57th annual event will be virtual this year. Marshall’s Office of International Student Services will host the virtual festival Saturday, Nov. 7, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Guests are invited to visit between 4 and 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 to join the festival. Please note, the event URL will not be available prior to the start of the event.

“We are excited to continue this tradition virtually,” said Jyotsna Patel, event coordinator and administrator for the Office of International Student Services at Marshall. “Showcasing the exceptional cultural experiences that Marshall University has to offer has always been the center of this annual event, and we are excited to be able to continue to share the global experience with the community.”

Thundering Herd football ranked No. 16 in latest AP poll
Despite not playing over the weekend, the Marshall University football team improved to No. 16 in the Associated Press national ranking - its highest ranking since 2002. The Herd will return to action this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against UMass at Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Odom
Like many students faced with the overwhelming possibilities of a world post-high school, Illinois native Nicole Odom wasn’t quite sure what she wanted to be when she grew up.

Odom received her undergraduate education close to home at the University of Missouri, where she earned a degree in chemistry with a minor in biological sciences. Shortly after, Odom dedicated a year between her studies to furthering her research experience at the Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, studying x-rays and hand-wrist radiographs.
Something, however, wasn’t quite right with that career path.

“Like many students, when I first started college, I was unsure what I wanted to pursue as a career, so I ended up changing my major quite a few times,” Odom said. “I went from veterinary medicine, to secondary education science, to pre-med with a focus in research, until a suggestion from a friend helped me finally narrow it down.”

The following year, Odom decided to take a leap and pursue forensic science at Marshall University in its Forensic Science Graduate Program. In May of 2019, Odom earned a Master of Science in Forensic Science degree and accepted a position with the Virginia Department of Forensic Science’s Digital and Multimedia Evidence Section in Richmond, Virginia.

Alumni News, Chapters
and Member Benefits
We Will Never Forget

50th Anniversary Banners Placed On Campus
50th Anniversary banners honoring our 75 #SonsAndDaughtersOfMarshall lost in the November 14, 1970 plane crash began going up around campus in September. The banners will be on display through the spring.

The Memorial Fountain Ceremony, remembering the 50th anniversary of the plane crash, will take place on November 14, 2020.

Learn more about the banners, check out an interactive map showing the location of each banner honoring a member of the 75 on campus, share a memory, and visit the official "Never Forget" website in the links below.

MUAA Member Benefits Corner
Alumni Perks
Sleigh your holiday shopping this year!

Skip the long lines, avoid late deliveries, and save big bucks on our best online holiday deals. Plus, enter to win daily giveaways. Members saved over $3.8 million during last year's holiday event. This year, you can save even more!

Save on everything from dining to travel using the all-new MUAA Alumni Perks program! CLICK HERE and register to receive custom savings only available to Marshall alumni!
Chapter Spotlight of the Month:
Houston Alumni Chapter
The Houston Alumni Chapter is planning a Virtual Fountain Ceremony watch party on November 14, 1970, to watch the Annual Memorial Fountain Ceremony as a Marshall Family.

Sharing in this virtual event will help the Houston Alumni Chapter connect in a new way - sharing in the ceremony together online. After the ceremony, there will be a brief update from the Marshall University Alumni Association, as well as the opportunity to connect and chat with other attendees.

If you're in the Houston area and would like to attend, please RSVP HERE.

Thank you so much for Cathy Ambridge, Houston Alumni Chapter President, for her idea for this event.

If a Virtual Fountain Ceremony watch party is something you or your local chapter would be interested in, please contact our office at or 304-696-2901.
In the late 1800s, early 1900s students stayed on campus just as they do today, but without all of the modern conveniences. This is a photo of a girl’s room from that era. At the time, Old Main served as dining hall, dormitory, gymnasium and classroom, as well as an administration building.
Marshall Foundation
News and Updates
Artifacts of Appreciation:
Jakob Jitima
"My scholarships are such a blessing to me because, without them, I would be graduating with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Achieving my goals to get these scholarships was amazing, but it would not be at all possible if the scholarships were not available. I'd love to thank every single individual, including the community, that played a role in making it possible for students like me to get the opportunity to take part in the educational process," said senior biology major, Jakob Jitima.

Artifacts of Appreciation:
Sydney Long
"My scholarships are why I can go to Marshall University. I am an out-of-state student, so the costs to be here are even more expensive. I come from a middle-class family with six kids, so I really wouldn't have had anything close to this opportunity to come to Marshall if it weren't for my scholarships," said Sydney Long of Liberty Township, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.

Scholarship established for Huntington icon
Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House has been well known and highly regarded in the Huntington community for numerous decades. Recently, Larry and Cheryl Tweel, on behalf of the entire Tweel family, which owns the restaurant, established a scholarship in memory of one of the two most important people responsible for its success, C.M. “Bunny” Gray.

Donor Spotlight: Lorie Wyant
Renowned journalist and 1985 Miss Marshall Lorie Wyant says that the education she obtained at Marshall University is key in the success she enjoyed in her professional life.

"The greatness of Marshall University is certainly in its faculty, but the vision of those who lead our university is perhaps my favorite thing - we are always growing and changing to meet the needs of students and our community," she said.

Alumni Spotlight: Phil & Jill Nelson
If you’ve been to Huntington in the past three years, you may have noticed the buzz at The Market in the 800 block of Third Avenue. It’s Huntington’s newest hangout, always busy with people of all ages, with 13 small businesses working together in the shared space.

Bringing this great community space into downtown created a place for people to gather and brought new life to downtown, boosting the economy and the image of Huntington.

This development’s success is due to two of Huntington’s unsung heroes—Marshall Alumni Phil and Jill Nelson.

Winter Commencement to be virtual; dual ceremonies to honor all 2020 Marshall graduates

Marshall University has announced that its annual winter commencement is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, and will be virtual because of continuing COVID-19 concerns. Two separate ceremonies, one at 9 a.m. and the other at noon, will recognize the university’s graduates from Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 and Winter 2020, respectively. Both events will be livestreamed at

DOE-funded research to focus on coal-derived products

Marshall University’s Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences (CEGAS) and the Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) are collaborating on a $1.9 million Department of Energy-funded project with the Universities of Utah and Wyoming. Dr. Tony Szwilski is the director of CEGAS, interim chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and project co-principal investigator.

Marshall Health announces new chief medical officer, chief medical information officer

Marshall Health, the faculty practice plan of the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, announces the transition of several faculty members into key leadership roles within the organization. Effective Nov. 1, Joseph E. Evans, M.D., FAAP, will begin his tenure as chief medical officer of Marshall Health and vice dean of clinical affairs for the School of Medicine.

Updated, real-time COVID-19 dashboard now available

Marshall recently published a robust and real-time COVID-19 dashboard that displays real-time data in an effort to keep students, employees and the surrounding community informed daily. The comprehensive report features data points and includes information from the Huntington and South Charleston campuses, and the Mid-Ohio Valley Center, as well as from student-athletes and Athletics Department staff:

NOTICE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many events in the Marshall community have been postponed or cancelled. Please CLICK HERE for updates and additional information. We remain focused and committed to offering the #MarshallUFamily the very best in events, updates and membership services to enjoy during this pandemic. We Are...MARSHALL!
Submit Your
Content Today!
Have something you would like included in an upcoming issue of the Sons & Daughters alumni newsletter or an upcoming Marshall Magazine?

Please send your updates and content to
519 John Marshall Drive,
Huntington, WV 25703