Students from Brooke County High School in West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle may have no idea who Michael Cipoletti is, but they may get to study business at West Virginia University because of him.

Michael Paul Cipoletti, a native of Wellsburg, West Virginia, tragically lost his life at age 48 in an automobile accident on January 11, 2011. His sudden death devastated his extensive and tight knit network of family and friends, but they decided to respond in the best way they could — with opportunity.

“Mike was a graduate of the College of Business and Economics (B&E),” said Bonnie Cipoletti Anderson, director of alumni relations and assistant director of development at WVU’s business school. “He loved all things WVU including the business school. We thought the best way we could combat the sadness of his death was to create a scholarship in his honor and memory.

Anderson, a cousin to Michael and 30-year employee at WVU, accepted her current position in early 2012. In her development capacity, she learned details about how scholarships come about.

“Mike’s 50th birthday would have been during the summer of 2012. That motivated me to rally the troops. I reached out to approximately 30 family and friends, many of whom were WVU graduates,” Anderson said.

She wanted to see if those she contacted would give a one-time gift or make a pledge over the course of a few years. The result of the effort is a scholarship to a Brooke High School graduate majoring in business at WVU.

“In a very short time,” Anderson recalled, “I secured a commitment of $25,000 with which we would create the Michael P. Cipoletti Memorial Scholarship. On July 4, 2012, we all gathered at his parents’ house and surprised them with the news that we were creating this legacy in his name that will live on at WVU.”

The first scholarship in Ciploletti’s name was awarded in 2013, and is one of three scholarships available to Brooke High School students through the WVU College of Business and Economics.

“We fully funded this scholarship two years ahead of schedule. People paid off their pledges early,” Anderson said. “None of us had the ability to create a $25,000 scholarship alone. But collectively we pulled our resources together to create something that will live on forever. That is something really special, especially for his family and his parents.

“We found out that we could do more collectively than we could individually. This was a tremendous tragedy in our family. So to have something good come out of it — to benefit students going to college and doing that in his name — is a good thing.”

For more information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, please visit



CONTACT: Patrick Gregg, WVU College of Business and Economics

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