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Alumna Establishes Endowed Scholarship in Honor of Education Professor

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Joan T. Feeleyy, late professor emeritus of education

Karen Cheney, MEd ’79, a former adjunct professor of education, has donated $50,000 to establish an endowed scholarship in honor of Joan T. Feeley, late professor emeritus of education, the teacher she says inspired her the most.

The Joan Feeley Endowed Scholarship will provide an annual award for a full-time undergraduate or full-time or part-time graduate student in the University’s College of Education. Each year’s selected applicant will receive at least $1,000 toward his or her studies.
For Cheney, establishing a scholarship was an opportunity to say thank you to her alma mater and to a special professor. “I took many classes with Dr. Feeley and got to know her beyond the classroom. I would meet her at the International Reading Association,” Cheney recalls. “She was a mentor and an inspiration to me. Everyone I know who lived in my hometown of Fair Lawn knew of Dr. Feeley because I would always talk about her.”

When Cheney first graduated with her master’s degree, she began teaching in the Fair Lawn public school system. Inspired by her beloved professor, she later decided to apply for a position as an adjunct at William Paterson. A few years as an adjunct at the University eventually led to a more than 30-year career in higher education spanning numerous colleges. Cheney worked at Ramapo College for two decades, and has spent the past 13 years teaching reading and basic skills at The College of the Desert in California, where she and her husband have since relocated.

“It’s all because of Dr. Feeley,” she says. “Sometimes we don’t realize how people affect our lives, but I know how she affected mine. She was a really strong force when she was teaching.”

Thanks to the University’s Office of Alumni Relations, Cheney was able to rekindle her relationship with Feeley, who died in February. Feeley, who had learned of the scholarship, was incredibly moved by news of its establishment.“I am incredibly honored,” Feeley said earlier this year. “This is the most wonderful thing, to have this done to help future students.”

For Cheney, the honor is hers. “William Paterson changed my life,” she says. “Every time I talk to someone from William Paterson, I get tears in my eyes. I have tears in my eyes right now. I really loved it there.“

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