Harless gift to establish Fisher Courtroom at WVU College of Law

By Chris Dickerson | Apr 26, 2012


MORGANTOWN -– A $1 million gift from Mr. James "Buck" and Hallie Harless of Gilbert has been donated to West Virginia University's College of Law in honor of Dean Emeritus John W. Fisher II.

The gift is part of the building and renovation project at the College of Law and will be used to create the John W. Fisher II Courtroom.

"The Harless family has been friends with John Fisher since early in the tenure of Gordon Gee as President," Buck Harless said. "That friendship has strengthened over the years. We have always admired John's strength of character, honesty, loyalty and dedication to the University.

"During John's 10 years as dean he was responsible for raising more money for the law school than all prior deans before him. The Harless family is very proud of John Fisher."

WVU has committed $13 million in capital funds for the College of Law's renovations, with the remaining funds expected to come from private sources. The College of Law will host a ground breaking ceremony June 4 at 11 a.m., according to Valerie Hunt, the school's assistant dean of development. The event is open to the public.

"A sincere and heartfelt thank you to Buck and Hallie from all of us at the WVU Foundation for their continued generosity to WVU," said Wayne King, Foundation president & CEO. "This latest gift to the College of Law is a wonderful tribute that will certainly benefit many future law students."

The $25 million project will include construction of a 20,000 square foot addition to the College of Law, which will house the new Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, the high tech Fisher Courtroom, two classrooms, a distance learning classroom, a wing dedicated to clinical law programs and faculty offices. Renovations also will be made to the interior of the existing building.

"West Virginia University College of Law is at a critical moment in its growth," College of Law Dean Joyce McConnell said. "This gift from the Harless family in honor of their dear friend, John Fisher, made it possible for construction of this new and sophisticated facility. We are proud to honor Dean Emeritus Fisher who has contributed and continues to contribute so much to legal education, the state and beyond.

"We are grateful to the Harless family for enhancing the future of the College of Law, in the name of John W. Fisher II."

The donation was made through the WVU Foundation, the private nonprofit organization that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

Harless earned his wealth primarily from the timber and coal industries. He has returned a substantial share of his resources to his community, region and state, and has generously contributed both his time and financial support to the continuing improvement of WVU.

He was a member of the University System of West Virginia Board of Trustees, WVU Board of Advisors, and a trustee of the Alumni Association's Loyalty Permanent Endowment Fund. He served on the WVU Foundation Board of Directors for 19 years, including chairman from 1982-1985. His philanthropic endeavors span the University through scholarships and professorships. His support has ranged from academic programs to athletics to the health sciences.

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