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$100,000 endowment established for WVU histotechnology program

$100,000 endowment established for WVU histotechnology program

A $100,000 endowment has been established by Richard Swanson and his wife Kathryn Skitarelic Swanson, MD, to support students enrolled in the histotechnology program within the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

The Mildred C. Swanson Scholarship in Histotechnology was endowed to honor Richard’s mother Mildred Swanson who worked as a histologist at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital for 18 years until her retirement in 1976.

At her retirement, Mrs. Swanson was awarded the Distinguished West Virginian honor by then Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. who stated, “you have fulfilled the position which you are leaving above and beyond the call.”

“My mother began working in the histology laboratory in 1958,” Richard said. “She enjoyed the challenging work and was always mindful of the responsibility that everyone in the histology laboratory had to patient care.”

“Histotechnologists are vital members of the healthcare team providing high quality laboratory results that facilitate an accurate diagnosis for the patient,” said Kimberly Feaster MA, HTL(ASCP)QIHC, program director for histotechnology. “The histotechnology bachelor’s degree program at WVU prepares graduates to become highly competent certified histotechnologists, HTL(ASCP). It is currently one of only eight such accredited programs in the United States. Graduates of the program are highly sought after. The Swanson’s generous gift will provide recognition and support for the program and the students enrolled.”

The WVU histotechnology is within the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Laboratory Medicine. Students selected to receive this scholarship must be enrolled in the histotechnology program and display satisfactory academic progress and/or demonstrate financial need. The scholarship will support both the academic and professional development of the recipients. Dr. Skitarelic served as the program’s first medical director and remains an advocate for the program and the profession.

Dr. Skitarelic, a pathologist, said, “My mother-in-law and I talked about the advances in the technology and the highly trained people needed in the histology laboratory to keep pace with the advances in medicine. My husband and I endowed this scholarship so that deserving students may have an opportunity to enter this interesting and expanding profession.”

The National Society for Histotechnology, defines histology as “a science dealing with the structure of cells and their formation into tissues and organs.” Abnormal tissue surgically removed from patients is examined and dissected, then sent to the histology laboratory for processing and staining. A pathologist studies the stained slides microscopically to arrive at a diagnosis.

Richard and Kathryn met as undergraduates at WVU. They have three grown children and currently reside in Morgantown, W.Va., Richard’s hometown.

To make a gift to the WVU School of Medicine, please contact Clare Flanagan, associate vice president for Health Sciences Development, at 304-293-0788 or cmflanagan@hsc.wvu.edu; or contact Patty Lonsbary, director of development for the School of Medicine, at 304-293-1448 or patricia.lonsbary@hsc.wvu.edu.

The Swanson’s donation was made through the WVU Foundation, the non-profit corporation that generates, receives and administers private gifts for the benefit of WVU.

Hannah d'Entremont
Communications Specialist, Office of Philanthropy
304-293-1735 | hgdentremont@hsc.wvu.edu