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Family honors the memory of longtime WVU professor with endowed scholarship

Donald J. Horvath, longtime professor of animal and veterinary sciences at Dr. Donald Horvath, ca. 1957  West Virginia University, passed away in 2011, but left behind a legacy of inspired learning that his family will honor through the establishment of the Dr. Donald J. Horvath Memorial Scholarship.

Horvath’s immediate family members — his wife, Jaqueline; daughter, Shelly Poston; and sons, Christopher, Jeremy and David— recently made a $25,000 gift to support the  WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, establishing an endowed fund that will benefit undergraduate students majoring in  animal and nutritional sciences or graduate students in  animal physiology. First preference will be given to graduate students who wish to teach at the university level.

The Horvath family hopes the scholarship will motivate and reward students pursuing degrees in those fields and inspire them to consider teaching at the post-secondary level. According to his family, Horvath, whose 35-year teaching career at WVU began in 1957 when the Davis College was then called the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Home Economics, had “a passion for teaching and learning” and “was a lifelong student himself.”

“Don Horvath believed that quality of life is proportionate to and dependent on continual inquiry about the world,” David Horvath said. “He also believed that the pursuit of knowledge is of limited value if one does not share that knowledge and encourage others.”

To that end, Don Horvath strived to always engage his students in meaningful dialogue to improve their ability to observe animals and offer their ideas for concepts in the animal sciences, such as improving animal welfare.

“He relied heavily on the Socratic teaching method, and he felt that he learned much from his students,” David Horvath continued.

And it was clear that his students felt the same way about him. Donald Horvath was honored as an exemplary professor multiple times, recognized by his students with the “Best Teacher Award” in 1965 and by the University in 1972-73 with the Outstanding Teacher recognition.

“He inspired countless students to become critical thinkers with a true depth of knowledge to become leaders in their fields and raise the standard among their peers,” David Horvath said.

“Scholarship support is critical as we continue to produce graduates who are willing to ‘set the bar high’ in their field— whether it involves teaching at the university level or working in the industry,” said  Bob Taylor, director of the Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences. “I am grateful for the Horvath family’s generous support and their desire to honor Dr. Horvath’s life of dedicated service and teaching at WVU.”

A native of New Jersey, Donald Horvath received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Rutgers University in 1951 and 1954, respectively, and his doctorate degree from Cornell University in 1957. He was passionate about the ethical treatment of animals in animal research and livestock production, as espoused by Temple Grandin, professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University.

“In addition to encouraging students in animal and nutritional sciences to pursue teaching at the university level, it is our sincere desire that scholarship recipients will advance the ethical treatment of animals in teaching and research as Don did throughout his career at WVU,” Jaqueline Horvath said. “We encourage Don’s former students to contribute to the scholarship fund in recognition of the role he played in their lives.”

If you would like to contribute to this fund, you can  make your gift online or send a check to the WVU Foundation, P.O. Box 1650, Morgantown, WV 26507. Please indicate in the online form or on the memo line of your check that your gift is designated to the “Dr. Donald J. Horvath Memorial Scholarship, 3Z743”.

This gift was made in conjunction with  A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University which runs through December 2017.


Pictured above: Donald J. Horvath, ca. 1957


Nikky Luna; WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design; 304.293.2394;