Nancy G. McGreevy passed away in April 2010. Years later, her husband Frank McGreevy found a note from his wife in a book written by Dr. Carolyn Peluso Atkins, a long-time faculty member of the West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services and creator of the Student Athletes Speak Out (SASO) program at WVU.
The bookmark said, “Carolyn – endow scholarship.” In 2016, McGreevy reached out to the WVU Foundation to discuss his options for establishing a scholarship in honor of Atkins.
“Carolyn was our neighbor for many years. My wife attended a basketball game years ago, where Carolyn was signing copies of her book,” McGreevy said. “My wife really understood the importance of speaking extemporaneously with a group and having the ability to interview with poise, so she was a huge supporter of Carolyn and her work with student athletes. I’m sure this is what led her to leave this note in the book.”
Atkin’s book, Great Unexpectations: Lessons from the Hearts of College Athletes, was published in 2008. The book highlights her teaching experiences working with athletes through the SASO program, which began in the 1990s.
SASO is a service-based program that prepares WVU student athletes for public speaking through the development of communication skills and self-confidence. The program also aims to promote character education in West Virginia middle schools, addressing a variety of topics including academics, alcohol and drug awareness, bullying, courage, responsibility and other issues.
“I am both humbled and honored by the McGreevys’ thoughtfulness and support. When I began working with the student-athletes and developed the Student-Athletes Speak Out program, I had no idea where it would lead me. The book was another way to share their stories. I am pleased to know that others, like Frank and Nancy, value my work and find it to be meaningful,” Atkins said.
Atkins also wrote a children’s book, Living Life the West Virginia Way, in 2013. The book was created to help children value and understand the state’s many treasured traditions. It emphasizes the importance of attending college, as well as highlights 10 good character traits often valued by West Virginians. In 2015, she donated a copy of the book to every elementary school in West Virginia.
Atkins donated 750 copies of the book to Energy Express, an award-winning, 8-week summer reading and nutrition program for children living in West Virginia’s rural and low-income communities. The book was given to children in Boone, Lincoln, Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties.
Most recently, Atkins worked with recent WVU graduate, basketball star and Morgantown native, Nathan Adrian, to create an online video reading of the children’s book. The video will be released in early fall.
McGreevy’s scholarship will provide funds to support costs associated with SASO or other student-athlete related public speaking projects. McGreevy felt drawn to support the scholarship because of his wife’s note, but also because of his and his wife’s many connections with WVU and CEHS.
McGreevy graduated from CEHS with a bachelor’s in secondary education in 1966. He spent most of his teaching career at Central Preston Junior High in Preston County, W. Va.
McGreevy’s late wife, though not a graduate of WVU, was a West Virginia native and lived in Morgantown for 44 years. She worked for the history department at WVU for 15 years, following her retirement as an internal auditor with the Department of Agriculture’s Soil Conservation Service.
“My wife and I are both very vested in the University and helping students. I established my first endowment in my wife’s honor, but have continued to give back since,” said McGreevy. “For this gift, it has been nice to be able to give back to my alma mater and support public speaking, which I taught along with English for 25 years.”
McGreevy currently has three established endowments at WVU – the Nancy G. McGreevy Endowed History Scholarship, the Judith Grubb Dental Hygiene Scholarship and the Dr. John H. Dempsey Orthodontic Scholarship. He has plans to establish six additional endowments through a bequest to the WVU Foundation.
These endowments include the Dr. Ronald L. Lewis Doctoral Fellowship, the Casey and Jennings Nestor Biology Scholarship and the Dr. Carter Bishop Scholarship (all which will support the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences), as well as the Fred and Becky Business Schaupp Scholarship (for the College of Business and Economics), the Fred Wilson Scholarship (for the School of Dentistry) and the Dr. Carolyn Atkins Scholarship (for the College of Education and Human Services).