Marshall University photo

Marshall University president Stephen Kopp, pictured with his wife Jane, died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday night.


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Stephen Kopp, who oversaw $200 million worth of campus expansion during his nine years as Marshall University’s president, died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday night.

“This is a huge shock. I was just with him this evening talking about the future of our area with legislative leaders,” Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said in a statement released to the media. “It’s a loss certainly to Marshall University, to our city and to the entire state. I lost a dear friend this evening.”

Kopp suffered the heart attack at home, police said. He was pronounced dead at Cabell Huntington Hospital around 9 p.m.

Marshall Board of Governors chairman Michael Sellards called Kopp “one of the most dedicated and long-serving presidents in the 177-year history of Marshall University.”

Marshall’s leadership team plans to meet Thursday morning to review the university’s continuity of operations plans, Sellards said.

“President Kopp has a strong leadership team in place and I’m confident that together, we can continue the business of the university in a manner that would make him proud,” he said.

Kopp was Marshall’s 36th president, beginning his work on the Huntington campus on July 1, 2005.

“He was a kind man, a nice man,” Cabell County Delegate Carol Miller told MetroNews late Wednesday night. “I hate it for his wife Jane and his family. It’s just so sudden, we’re all shocked.”

Miller credited Kopp with taking a proactive approach to obstacles.

“He was always thinking ahead and trying to figure out the best way to solve—not necessarily look at something as a problem—but more of an opportunity,” Miller said.

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller said Marshall grew in scale and popularity during Kopp’s tenure, which included the largest freshman class in university history.

“Under nearly a decade of Steve Kopp’s leadership, Marshall University has truly flourished. Steve ushered in an time of remarkable growth in research, scholarship, and development,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

“The university, the city of Huntington, and the state of West Virginia have benefited from his vision. President Kopp was an extraordinary person who will be dearly missed.”

West Virginia Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill said the entire education community in West Virginia is diminished by Kopp’s passing.

Under his thoughtful leadership, Marshall has thrived as a place for students to learn, to grow, and to give back to our state and the people around them,” the chancellor said.

After earning a bachelor of science degree in biology from Notre Dame, Kopp received a Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He held leadership positions with Midwestern University, Central Michigan University and Ohio University before coming to Marshall.

Kopp is survived by his wife, Jane, their two children, Adam and Liz, and two grandchildren.

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  • Michael Eric Peterson

    Marshall University should be always greatfull for
    what President Stephen Kopp has done as President of this school for nine years he brought this school back up to were it was needed to be. Campus Building improvement like an indoor practice facilities new artficial truff at Marshall Football Stadium. Made building renovation totally $200 million. Our hearts and prayers go to Mrs. Kopp Family and grandchildren. "WE ARE MARSHALL." Lets GO HERD!!!!

  • WVUMike99

    Prayers go out for the Marshall Community. May God bless you all during this time of loss and give the strength to move forward.

  • Chris F.

    Dr. Kopp was a great leader who is already sadly missed. Having the opportunity to meet him twice, it was eveident that he was the best man for the job at the right time, but he was also very personable and loved Marshall University and the State of West Virginia. He'd been the University President for quite a while so it was eveident that he loved what he did. A great man was lost. My condolences to his wife and family.

  • Mason County Contrarian

    In his remarks at the closing of the Memorial Fountain last month, the tone of Dr. Kopp was one of love and devotion for the University and its Sons and Daughters; a remarkable leader of the institution, a champion of education. Who could have foreseen that a brief month later we would endure such a loss as his passing?

    Prayers for him and condolences to his family from an alumn.

  • TQK

    As an out of state Marshall grad, I am saddened to hear of the passing of Dr. Kopp. He was dedicated to the University and its success. He will be sorely missed.

  • mufaninva

    My prayers are with the family. May GOD give you the strength in this time of sorrow.

  • Ron & Lynda Bates

    Our sympathy and prayers are with the family as we mourn the loss of a great man.

  • Interesting123

    Dr. Kopp was dedicated to Marshall and truly believed in Marshall and higher educations ability to change lives. He successfully changed and grew Marshall substantially during his tenure. Because of his vision Marshall is better today than when he took over, and his legacy will probably not be fully realized for another decade or two. Adding the programs and infrastructure he has will allow for Marshall's growth, and for future generations of grads to possess the skills needed in the 21st century workplace. They are all programs that will allow students to be able to give back to Marshall in ways prior graduating classes were never able to. Thank you Dr. Kopp.

  • E3

    I am an alumnus of Marshall and I am very saddened to hear this news. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Kopp speak on several occasions and his dedication to our university was evident. He was a great leader for our school and community and we will miss him greatly. My deepest sympathies to his family.

  • Herd98

    Dr. Kopp was a true Son Of Marshall. He always showed his love for the University and Huntington in general. To bring 200 million in growth to MU is amazing and he worked hard to achieve it. From my Marshall family to one of our own you will be missed. Go Herd and God Bless the Kopp family.

  • Jon 35

    Not a Marshall fan as most of you are, but a very sad day for the Thundering Herd and the Huntington area, brings tears to my eyes to lose such a great leader, my condolences to his family and the school.

  • Michael Eric Peterson

    Marshall University President Stephen Kopp well be sadly missed by the Huntington Community. His Legancy well continue a long time after he passed away. Are thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family and grand children.

    We Are Marshall Always remember the good things that he has as President of Marshall University Thundering Herd Let Go Herd!!!

  • david

    My heartfelt condolences to the Koop family and the Marshall University community.

  • herd16

    God speed, President Kopp.

  • sammy

    He was a visionary and a bright light for Marshall University. My thoughts to his family, friends and to the students, faculty and staff at Marshall University.

  • LTson

    Being kin to parents who attended a secondary school(Lyons Township HS in Chicago suburb) with Dr. Kopp and one Judge O'Hanlon, this is a HUGE loss for the state of WV and MU - hard to find persons in this world who are willing to serve the state of WV that are not indigenous to the area- truly an unselfish nature spirit and intellectual embodiment to take on such an endeavor- My thoughts and prayers to his family......

  • Ron from morgantown

    My condolences . And prayers for his family and friends . So sad .

  • steve

    condolence to the family....very sad to hear

  • Charleston

    My sincerest condolences to the Kopp Family. May the Lord be with during this sorrowful time. I pray you find your peace!

  • ViennaGuy

    My condolences to President Kopp's family and the Marshall University community.

  • Jim

    RIP Dr Koop. My prayers to his family. He will be missed. He has been a great son of Marshall. He had vision and believed that Marshall's future was bright. I feel his passing is a very sad day for Marshall, Huntington, WV and higher education.

  • Josh

    My prayers go out to Jane & his family. Kopp was a great individual. This is a huge loss to Marshall & to the community.