CHARLESTON – Charleston attorney Kent Carper has six grandchildren who are “in a very comfortable position now to be well-educated,” but he knows many others in the area struggle to pay for a college education. As a result, he has endowed a scholarship fund at Ohio Northern University, where he went to law school.
“I know it’s incredibly costly now for young people to go to law school,” Carper told The West Virginia Record.
Carper said “most of (his) income over the years has come from being a lawyer,” and he believes his Ohio Northern legal education played a role in his success.
“I just thought I should pay it back, pay it forward,” said Carper, who is a founding partner of Hill, Peterson, Carper, Bee & Deitzler PLLC as well as president of the Kanawha County Commission.
Carper is a West Virginia native and has spent most of his time in the state with no plans to ever leave again.
Aside from his time in law school, Carper said “the only time I left West Virginia was to go to the service and the (National) Guard.”
Still, Carper, and his wife Deborah, who is also an Ohio Northern graduate, very much enjoyed their time in Ada, Ohio, where the university is located.
Carper said he has fond memories of the small-town, farming atmosphere that he encountered in Ada, adding that, unlike the students who went to school at many larger universities, he was able to ride his bicycle to and from school each day while at Ohio Northern.
“My wife, Deborah, and I often talk about how our days at ONU were some of the best times of our lives,” Carper said. “We raised two young children there, and we appreciate that it was a wonderful place to study and raise children.”
Carper also is proud to be a product of Ohio Northern’s law school, saying his education there is comparable to that received by attorneys who went to Ivy League and other prominent law schools.
“They turn out a lot of judges” as well good lawyers, Carper said of Ohio Northern.
Ohio Northern officials say Carper’s endowment “establishes the W. Kent Carper Law Scholarship, which will be awarded to law students during the second semester of their first year in law school.”
The university said students from West Virginia and first responders and public safety workers and their families will be considered preferred applicants.
Carper said “they tell me this is the first gift of its kind” because of the preference assigned to workers and families from a specific field.
Ohio Northern said Carper previously was Charleston’s police chief and director of the department of public safety.
Carper received his bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State University. As part of his legal career, he is a former Kanawha County prosecuting attorney and was a deputy in the state auditor’s office.