New Scholarship Honors Professor Kopley, Provides Opportunity for Students

Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus Richard Kopley (Provided photo)

Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus Richard Kopley (Provided photo)

DUBOIS – The lasting impact that one educator has had on his students is exemplified with the establishment of The Professor Richard A. Kopley Trustee Scholarship at Penn State DuBois.

The scholarship has been endowed with a $100,000 gift from a donor and former student of Kopley’s who wishes to remain anonymous. 

“Dr. Kopley had a significant impact on the donor’s education, and therefore that person’s career and life in general,” said Penn State DuBois Director of Development Jean Wolf.

“Because of that impact, the donor wished to honor this professor, while at the same time helping to make educational opportunities accessible to today’s students who have a need for financial assistance.” 

Kopley said of the establishment of the fund, “I am deeply honored that this generous scholarship has been contributed in my name.  I am deeply thankful to the donor.”

Kopley taught composition and American literature at Penn State DuBois from 1983 through 2014.  During his tenure, he achieved the rank of Distinguished Professor of English.

He is an internationally known author and literary scholar with expertise in classic American Literature and one of the world’s foremost experts on Edgar Allan Poe. 

High among Kopley’s many contributions to literature are his efforts to preserve and interpret the meaning, inspiration and influences of classic works.

His published works include Edgar Allan Poe and the Dupin Mysteries (Palgrave MacMillan), a book that takes an in-depth look at Poe’s detective stories, which many say inspired the entire detective genre. 

Kopley’s book analyzes the structure, sources, and autobiographical significance of these stories and points to the strong influence they have on the detective literature that would follow, including stories centered on Sherlock Holmes.

Kopley also published The Threads of The Scarlet Letter (University of Delaware Press), which discusses three major new sources for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece.

Last year Kopley published a scholarly edition of one of these three sources, The Salem Belle: A Tale of 1692 (Penn State Press), a neglected work of American literature. 

Kopley has edited the novel and provided documentation from his research that proves that The Salem Belle was a major source for the 1850 novel The Scarlet Letter. 

Kopley’s research shows that Hawthorne drew inspiration for his classic from this previously little-known work.  Studying the creation of a classic is known as genetic scholarship and serves to illuminate a work’s composition, a process that would otherwise be less well understood. 

In recent years, Kopley has even delved into the world of children’s literature, having published his first children’s picture-book, The Remarkable David Wordsworth (Eifrig Publishing), in 2013.  His second children’s picture-book, “Kenny and the Blue Sky,” is due out later this year. 

Considering all of his accomplishments, however, Kopley’s students have always marveled at his passion for teaching. He was known for inviting students to collaborate with him on research projects and for encouraging them to create their own literary works. 

“Repeatedly through my 31 years at the campus, I shared with my students what still seems to me some very wise advice from Henry David Thoreau, at the conclusion of Walden:  ‘If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.  Now put the foundations under them.’,” Kopley recalled.

“With its strong curriculum and devoted faculty, Penn State DuBois offers to all its students the opportunity to ‘put the foundations under them.’ This scholarship is intended to help students reach their ‘castles in the air.’ It is an expression of gratitude to the campus and confidence in its future students.  It is a giving back that, I hope, will enable its recipients to give back, as well, in the years to come.”       

Consideration for this scholarship will be given to undergraduate students enrolled or planning to enroll at Penn State DuBois who have a demonstrated financial need for funds to meet their necessary college expenses and who have achieved a minimum grade point average of 3.25 or higher. 

Each year, more than $350,000 in scholarship dollars is awarded to Penn State DuBois students through over 50 individual scholarship funds.  The scholarships established through the generosity of donors, with the assistance of the campus’ Office of Development, help to assure an affordable and accessible education remains in reach for area students.

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