Chemical engineering students in need will benefit from a $1.7 million legacy gift made by an alumnus of West Virginia University’s Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and his wife.
The planned gift from James and Catherine Eliades Faller, of Newark, Delaware, provides $50,000 to establish an endowed scholarship for chemical engineering majors with a demonstrated financial need, with first preference to natives of West Virginia and the surrounding states. The remainder of the couple’s gift is a bequest to be divided between the namesake scholarship fund and a new endowment for the James and Catherine Faller Chemical Engineering Graduate Fellowship, which will be awarded at the department chair’s discretion.
“This is a very generous contribution to our College that will provide many opportunities for our chemical engineering undergraduate and graduate students,” said Pedro Mago, Glen H. Hiner Dean of the Statler College. “We are extremely grateful to James and Catherine Eliades Faller for their gift and the significant impact it will have on our students lives and the chemical engineering discipline.”
A native of Wheeling, Faller graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1959. He then continued his education at the University of Delaware, where he earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering in 1963 and a doctorate in applied science in 1967.
As Faller and his wife made plans for their estate, they chose to provide support to WVU, the University of Delaware and Marietta College, where Faller’s sister attended college. Faller said he is eager to provide as much money as possible to each student he aids, to ensure they can graduate without a significant debt load.
“I love education, and I love to help students who need help,” Faller said, noting that higher education was much more affordable when he attended WVU in the late 1950s. “Now, it’s becoming a huge burden on students to go to college. … When you talk about scholarships today, you’re talking about survival. It’s a different climate.”
Faller worked for private industry, academia and the United States military during his career, retiring in 2006 from the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Test Center as senior engineer and team leader for modeling and simulation. He also ventured into his own business, co-founding a materials consulting company and co-developing an oil additive product for sale overseas. He patented a mechanical gauge for high-pressure measurements in large caliber guns and co-developed a sensor for transient convective heat flux to assess potential skin burns in explosive environments. He was recognized for his professional accomplishments with induction into the Statler College’s Academy of Chemical Engineers in 2018.
The Fallers’ gift was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University, in conjunction with WVU Day of Giving. Alumni and friends made over 5,000 gifts totaling $11.9 million to support the University’s fourth Day of Giving, setting new records for the 24-hour online fundraising event held across the University system.
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