Columbus State Launches Bill Chappell Scholarship Fund

COLUMBUS, Ga. - Columbus State University is honoring one of its pioneering leaders through a new scholarship fund.

The Bill Chappell Memorial Scholarship will assist students in Columbus State’s Master of Public Administration program, which Chappell founded in 1983, establishing a path for more than 1,500 degree holders, including many of Georgia’s civic and law enforcement leaders. Bill Chappell, 2008

After a stint as a dean, he had recently returned to the program and guided it until he died at age 62 on Jan. 7, after a long battle with cancer.

“We think of Bill as the George Washington of (CSU’s) Graduate School,” said CSU Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tom Hackett. “The MPA, now the largest graduate program on campus, is one of his many legacies.”

Born and raised in rural Alabama, Chappell joined the political science faculty at then-Columbus College in 1976 after serving as an Army signal officer in Vietnam and completing his doctorate in political science from the University of Alabama.

He was well-known for effectively incorporating stories drawn from life experiences into his class lectures. He also is remembered for addressing his students by “Mr.” and “Ms.” – a practice he started early in his career, when several of his students were older than him. “The classroom is a place of mutual respect,” Chappell said in 2003, when he was appointed dean of the former College of Arts and Letters. He served as interim dean for three previous years and left the post in 2008 to focus solely on the MPA program.

Thanks to Chappell’s work, the new scholarship fund will assist MPA students with tuition and book costs. “Twenty-five percent of immediate proceeds will help deserving students complete their MPA degrees, while the remaining funds will be used to endow the scholarship,” Hackett said. "Our goal is to raise $50,000."

The CSU Foundation is accepting contributions to the fund. Go to for instructions on donating by check and credit card or call 706-568-2028 for more information.

The MPA program, accessible online, covers degree tracks in environmental policy, government administration, health administration and justice administration. The latter track serves law enforcement executives statewide through CSU’s Georgia Law Enforcement Command College.

Command College Director Archie Rainey said his longtime colleague, Chappell, was truly a student’s advocate. “Bill and I spoke of, and shared, one simple rule related to our students: `Do no harm,’” Rainey said.

Hackett echoed Rainey in summarizing Chappell’s legacy. “Bill's impact on Columbus State and his deep commitment to students was profound,” he said. “He laid the foundation for all graduate programs to follow.”


Caption for inset photo:

Professor Bill Chappell talks to a group of criminal justice students and alumni in 2008, wearing the blazer he received a decade earlier when he received CSU's annual Faculty Service Award.