That money is being spent on renovations and new construction projects State hopes will help its retention and recruitment rates.
Half of the $1 million gift is slated for a new sports complex that will house locker rooms, workout facilities and more. The school is also working on building a new student housing facility, in a public-private partnership.
Miami-based Mantra will fund the roughly $19 million project, receiving rental fees from State once it's complete. The complex will offer close to 300 suite-style rooms, and is scheduled to open by the fall of 2014.
Hemphill hopes these measures encourage students to come to State and stay until they graduate. Retention is an issue at all West Virginia universities and colleges, but especially so at State: when Hemphill started, 55 percent of freshmen were returning for their second year and less than a quarter were graduating in six years.
Enrollment was up 7.5 percent for the school in 2012, and Hemphill anticipates continued success.
"We emphasize student-centered service in every interaction, inside and outside the classroom, and have told our students from their first day on campus that we expect every one of them to graduate," Hemphill said in a September press release.
The university continues to plan fundraising and recruiting events. More information is available at its redesigned website, wvstateu.edu.