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Giving Back

Former WVU English Professor’s Estate Donation Supports Undergraduate Student Learning


The Department of English will receive a sizable gift from the estate of longtime, former faculty member Hayden W. Ward Jr. 

Ward passed away at age 74 in 2013, after serving the English department and West Virginia University for 35 years. His estate gift of approximately $500,000 will form The Hayden W. Ward, Jr. Dept. of English Discretionary Endowment and will support undergraduate student learning opportunities as well as other needs in the department. 

“Hayden Ward was a gentle man who, from his childhood, was drawn to literature and baseball and continued to love both until his death last December,” said Patrick Conner, professor emeritus of English at WVU. “He was a sterling undergraduate student at Columbia University who earned the very prestigious Harry J. Carman Fellowship to continue his work at Columbia. His will directs that his estate be mostly divided between his two universities, Columbia and WVU, but several  charities local to Morgantown will also receive generous bequests.”

“He was a treasured colleague, and we were fortunate to have him as a friend. We are truly humbled by and grateful for this tremendous bequest.” — James Harms, chair and professor of English and Creative Writing

Ward was born in New York in 1939, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Columbia University in 1961. It was there he was awarded the prestigious Harry J. Carman Fellowship for advanced post-baccalaureate study, and would receive his Doctor of Philosophy in 1969. 

After a year at C.W. Post College on Long Island, Ward began his career at WVU, where he served until his retirement in 2004. From 1990 until his retirement Ward served as editor of Victorian Poetry, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to British and colonial poetics of the Victorian age (1830-1914). His involvement with the publication was the longest tenure of any editorial staff member since its founding in 1963. 

Ward taught a wide range of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at WVU. He mentored several students in writing theses for advanced degrees and served on numerous examining committees that awarded master’s degrees and doctorates in literature. He regularly taught undergraduate courses that surveyed British literature, American literature, the Victorian novel and other advanced courses, as well as courses in the techniques of writing essays and in literary appreciation. 

“Through his tireless service to the Department of English, and particularly his stewardship of the  journal Victorian Poetry, Hayden Ward left a legacy of excellence and service, a legacy extended further by this generous gift,” said James Harms, chair and professor of English and Creative Writing. “He was a treasured colleague, and we were fortunate to have him as a friend. We are truly humbled by and grateful for this tremendous bequest.” 

The generous gift reflects Ward’s commitment to his field of study and also the University he called home for so many years. 

“It is clear from the disposition of his will that Hayden loved his colleagues and valued the work he did with them for the students and scholarly reputation of the English Department over the years since 1970,” Conner said. “An unassuming man with no intention to do so, he has nevertheless guaranteed that his department will honor him for many years to come.” 


Hayden Ward Jr.

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Hayden W. Ward Jr.