James and Judith Culberson have been advocates of both education and the arts in Morgantown since becoming part of West Virginia University almost 50 years ago.

Recently the couple donated $25,000 to the WVU College of Creative Arts to endow a scholarship for students in the School of Theatre and Dance, where their daughter Sarah graduated in 1998.

The James and Judith Culberson Dean’s Honors Scholarship will benefit undergraduate students in theater and dance who are simultaneously accepted to, and enrolled in, the WVU Honors College.

“It is no surprise that the Culbersons, who are life-long supporters and advocates of the arts, have chosen to support arts education in this manner,” said Dean Paul Kreider of the College of Creative Arts. “We are very grateful to Jim and Judy for their love and support of the School of Theatre and Dance. I want to personally thank them for creating the second Dean’s Honors Scholarship in the College of Creative Arts.”

“We’ve been affiliated with WVU for most of our working lives and since we came to Morgantown, the University and particularly the
Creative Arts Center, have had a big hand in enriching our lives and those of our three girls, Lynne, Laura and Sarah,” the Culbersons said. “Each of our daughters chose to attend WVU and collectively the family ended up obtaining six degrees here. All three of our daughters received a great education at WVU that prepared them very well.”

“Our connection with theater goes back to some great shows in the old Music Building downtown, and we were at the CAC to help open the main stage with ‘School for Scandal’ and the Oxford-Cambridge players’ production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ We have been fortunate to enjoy hundreds of performances right here in Morgantown. This new scholarship to further quality education and training in the creative arts just seemed right to us.”

Jim Culberson is professor of neurobiology and anatomy in the WVU School of Medicine. He is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and Tulane University. When he was being recruited to join the School of Medicine faculty back in 1968, he says, the accessibility of the many arts events at WVU was one of the reasons that he and his wife, Judy, decided to settle in Morgantown.

Judy Culberson taught special education at Woodburn Elementary School (now called Eastwood), and is retired. She received her undergraduate degree in history from WVU in 1974 and graduated from the WVU College of Education and Human Services in 1997.

The Culberson’s daughter Lynne received her master’s degree in speech pathology from WVU and daughter Laura also earned her bachelor’s degree in education.

Their youngest daughter, Sarah, who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from WVU, is known to many people at the University and in Morgantown as “the African princess.” She was adopted by the Culbersons as an infant and many years later she found her biological father and discovered he is a head master of Bumpe High School and a member of the ruling family in the Bumpe Chiefdom, Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Since then, she has been featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and on the front page of the Los Angeles Times, as well as in other state and national news outlets, talking about her experience and working to raise money to rebuild the school in her father’s village, which was ravaged by civil war.

She held one of her fundraisers for the school in Morgantown a few years ago. It took place at the Metropolitan Theatre downtown and featured faculty from the WVU School of Theatre and Dance, as well as the WVU African Dance Ensemble.

Sarah received a master’s degree from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco in 2001 and has also worked as an actress and a professional dancer, continuing the interests she first developed in Morgantown.

“The creative arts have been a huge part of our lives here,” Jim Culberson said. “We go to see any kind of theater on the stage. We have encountered some really enriching experiences.

“Everyone in our family is also involved in education of some kind or other. That’s where it’s at for us.”

The WVU Honors College, which has approximately 2,000 students, offers special courses and strongly encourages students to seek out and participate in educational experiences such as undergraduate research, study abroad programs and internships.

Students are considered for admission to the Honors College based on their high school grade point average, ACT or SAT composite scores, community service and extracurricular activities.

The James and Judith Culberson contribution to the WVU College of Creative Arts was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015.



CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
304-293-4359, Charlene.Lattea@mail.wvu.edu

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