The West Virginia State University Foundation is proud to announce a campaign to honor distinguished NASA mathematician and WVSU alumna Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson with the establishment of the Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson Scholarship and the erection of a bronze statue on campus. The scholarship will benefit students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields, with emphasis on assisting talented individuals who are underrepresented in those fields.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

In November 2015, Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a civilian. Johnson, a native of White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., first came to Institute at the age of 10 to attend the high school that used to be part of West Virginia State’s campus. After graduating from high school at age 15, she immediately enrolled for college classes at West Virginia State. Johnson excelled in her studies and graduated summa cum laude in 1937 at the age of 18 with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and French.

Johnson’s pioneering work as a “computer” at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and later at NASA, has been widely recognized following publication of the book, Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly, and by the movie of the same name. Throughout her distinguished career, Johnson never forgot her roots in West Virginia and the teachers and mentors who encouraged her and helped her overcome the barriers faced by a young African-American woman in the mid-twentieth century. Her wish is that any effort that bears her name help create opportunities for the next generation of scholars, researchers and leaders.

The Opportunity

The Statue

A life-sized bronze statue will be created by West Virginia sculptor Frederick Hightower. The statue will be placed on WVSU’s quad, where it will serve as a source of inspiration to current and future students of all that is possible through dedication, hard work and perseverance. The estimated cost of the statue installation is $150,000. 

The Scholarship

Building upon Katherine Johnson’s legacy as a pioneer in mathematics and WVSU’s strong track record of education in the sciences, the Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson Scholarship will benefit students majoring in STEM fields, with emphasis on assisting talented individuals who are underrepresented in those fields. WVSU seeks to endow the scholarship at $100,000.



The statue and scholarship will be dedicated on the weekend of Katherine Johnson’s 100th birthday, on August 25, 2018. All gifts received by that date will be recognized in the dedication program. Donors who give $1,000 or more by June 30, 2018 will have their names engraved on a plaque next to the statue. For information about suggested giving levels and group giving, go to Suggested Giving Levels.