WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., July 7, 2021 — West Liberty University now has its first scholarship designed exclusively for master degree students. Established with the WLU Foundation, the scholarship is for a graduate student enrolled in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies degree program.
The two lead donors who funded the new award are Dr. Howard Shackelford of Wheeling and Dr. Robert Wetzel of St. Clairsville, Ohio.
“I am so grateful to Dr. Shackelford and Dr. Wetzel for helping us establish the first endowed scholarship for PA students. Both physicians saw value in giving back to the health care community, strengthening the WLU PA program and reducing debt for students,” said Angela Zambito-Hill, executive director of the WLU Foundation.
The fund has more than $22,000 in it at this point. Zambito-Hill added that the WLU Foundation will continue to raise dollars for this effort. The first PA student to receive an award from the endowed scholarship is expected to be selected in June 2022.
“This is the first ever PA specific scholarship, and even though we have one of the most affordable programs in the region, I’m proud to say we have worked on establishing a scholarship to support our PA graduate students and lessen their debt load,” said William Childers, EdD, MS, PA-C, who is the director of the PA program.
In addition to enhancing affordability, the scholarship will strengthen WLU’s ability to recruit students, he noted.
With 45 years of experience in his field, Dr. Shackelford is a board-certified and respected cardiothoracic surgeon. He specializes in Cardiac Surgery, General Surgery, and Thoracic Surgery. He has offices in Wheeling and St. Clairsville. Shackelford is medical director of the Physician Assistant Studies program, a position he’s held since 2012, and is an associate professor in WLU’s College of Sciences.
Dr. Wetzel has more than 25 years of experience in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology both in civilian and military settings. He also has administrative experience and has served as a medical director at the Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley.
Wetzel has served as an assistant professor in the Physician Assistant Studies program since 2015.
WLU now has a total of 10 master degree programs.
West Liberty University’s Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies degree program is a 24-month, year-round course of studies that welcomes a new class each June. Fully accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, it includes one year of didactic, in-classroom work, and a second year of clinical rotations under the supervision of licensed clinical preceptors.
WLU’s PA program began during the summer of 2012 and is housed in the newest academic building on campus, the Campbell Hall of Health Sciences.