The West Virginia University College of Law has received its largest gift ever — $7.5 million from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust.

The donation will be put toward a $25 million law school renovation and addition project that got underway in the fall. The project’s costs are being split between the university and private donations.

"As for all of the law students and the faculty, who we have tremendous respect for, the gift is less about them, and more about the people that they will help in their lives," Stephen Farmer, who sits on the trust’s board of trustees, said in a written statement on February 12. "As they go forward and live their legal career as a lawyer, or lawmaker, judge, or educator, they will work tirelessly every day and they will on a day-to-day basis improve the lives of the people they come in contact with."

The trust was established by its namesake, Hazel Ruby McQuain, the retired president of Ruby Enterprises Inc. She died in 2002 at 93. Her husband was J.W. Ruby, a former owner of Sterling Faucet and a millionaire industrialist who died in in 1972. The Trust’s donations — along with matching state dollars, have netted nearly $45 million to West Virginia University over time.

"[The donation] will launch the law school into a new era of legal education and service," said law dean Joyce McConnell. "It will have a direct impact on the lives of our students, on our alumni and on the state’s attorneys who continue their education at the law center."

Last year, James "Buck" Harless, founder of lumber and coal conglomerate International Industries Inc., donated $1 million to the building project in the name of his longtime friend John Fisher, the law school’s dean emeritus.

The law school broke ground last fall on a 20,000-square-foot addition to its existing building. That addition will house the new Center for Energy and Sustainable Development and clinics.

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