New endowment established in light of national teacher shortage

A newly established CEHS scholarship from Drs. Donald and Catherine Perry Cotten will support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in teacher education. 

“As major supporters of public education, Catherine and I believe in every person having access," Cotten said. "If it had not been for that access, in my case, I would not have been able to do what I have done and continue to do. We are pleased with the current spirit at the University in promoting and continuing to serve the state and the community. We hope our small gift will help continue to support the mission of our land-grant institution.” 

The Drs. Catherine Perry and Donald R. Cotten CEHS Scholarship will specifically support students pursing degrees in education with an emphasis in mathematics, science or computer science/technology. According to the couple, these subjects always suffer when there is a teacher shortage.  

“The Cotten’s gift comes at a truly opportune time, when classrooms across America are working to hire outstanding teachers, especially those in the areas of mathematics and science,” said CEHS Dean Gypsy Denzine. “Our College is grateful to be in a better position to recruit great students interested in teaching in those fields as a result of their generous gift.” 

Perry Cotten, a native of Morgantown, W.Va., received her BA in mathematics from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at WVU before returning to obtain her MA in education from CEHS.  Cotten received his EDD in curriculum and instruction from CEHS, the result of encouragement from a past colleague and mentor, the late Dr. Patricia Obenauf. 

The couple quickly leveraged their degrees and knowledge, launching them both into successful careers in education. Perry Cotten transitioned from high school mathematics to teaching mathematics, and later computer science, at the collegiate level. Cotten continued to teach at the collegiate level, serving in various leadership roles in academia.  

“WVU was fantastic in terms of what we learned and the opportunities it afforded us,” Perry Cotten said. “We both have continued to not only grow our careers, but have seen real results and improvements in education.” 

Cotten’s success in academia led him to work with state, federal and private sector partners in building competitive university education and research programs. Perry Cotten secured millions of dollars in state, federal and private foundation funding throughout her career in support of curriculum development, teacher education activities and technology innovation.  

According to the Cottens, while it is important students are still motivated to work hard inside and outside the classroom, they hope their scholarship will offer the students a little extra confidence and support.  

The gift was made as part of “A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University."