Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) President Donald Snyder and other board members proudly announced a 10-year extension of the John E. Morgan Scholarship For Higher Education during a well-attended school assembly and press conference held yesterday in the Tamaqua Area School District's auditorium.
The scholarship allows any Tamaqua high school graduate, who meets the criteria, free tuition at LCCC's Tamaqua Morgan Center for two years.
A long-time resident and prominent business man in Tamaqua, John E. Morgan's wish was to enhance opportunities for his neighbors so they could remain in the community. Morgan was particularly interested in finding ways to find a college education for the young graduates of his community, as well as to attract industry to the area.
In the mid-1940s, John and his wife Anna opened a sewing shop in Hometown. Soon after, he developed and patented the waffle stitch, a precise method for knitting that gave rise to mass production of thermal fabrics used for long underwear and blankets. He is credited by many with the invention of thermal underwear.
This led to financial growth for the J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills, which reportedly had sales in excess of $45 million and even leased office space at the Empire State Building. History books show that the company was estimated to be the largest employer in Schuylkill County, with a workforce of more than 1,000, and manufacturing plants in Williamstown, Tower City, and Gilbertsville. In 1984, Morgan sold the company to a Scottish-based textile company, altough he stayed as the board chairman.
The sale of the company allowed Morgan to devote more time to his love of automobiles. Staying in his hometown of Tamaqua, he established that JEM Antique and Classic Car Museum in Mahoning Valley, which grew to a collection of more than 50 classic vehicles.
Prior to his death in 2001, Morgan started using his financial gain to help others, including Lehigh Valley Hospital for the establishment of the John and Dorothy Morgan Cancer Center, named for him and his second wife; St. Luke's Miners Memorial Hospital in Coaldale; Marian Catholic High School in Tamaqua; Penn State Schuylkill; Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital and others.
Morgan, who never atttended college, placed an emphasis on higher education. His foundation's support of Penn State Schuylkill included a gift for what was to became the John E. Morgan Auditorium, along with the creation of a trustee scholarship in his name.
The Morgan Trust contributed $4.75 million to the LCCC to open the John and Dorothy Morgan Center for Higher Education in Tamaqua in 2002. The trust also established a fund that provides scholarships to Tamaqua Area High School graduates who meet the established requirements.
"The scholarship, as well as the development of the Morgan Center, are among the most positive advancement to occur here in many, many years," said Sen. Dave Argall during the assembly.
"LCCC's collaborative efforts with other colleges and universities, expanding programs and resources for our local community, alond with these generous scholarships and opportunities, make the Tamaqua area a much better place to live, work and raise a family."
"The availability of the Morgan scholarships has given opportunity to students that could only dream of going on to post-secondary education," said Larry Witting, chairman, Tamaqua Area School District and Pennsylvania State Board of Education.
"From the very first student to take advantage of this, to the students for the next 10 years, the Morgan Foundation has enriched their lives and has contributed immeasurably to the betterment of our society."
"Take full advantage," said LCCC graduate Katie Floyd. 'You have an amazing opportunity that others do not get. Work hard so the Morgan Scholarship can continue into the future."
"It prepared me by allowing me to take education-basd classes," said LCCC graduate Steph Blaker. "Close to home courses prepared me to know what to expect in my own classroom setting one day."
Kaitlyn Keich, a 2010 Tamaqua graduate and 2012 graduate of LCCC, said, "Because of the Morgan Scholarship, I have completed many opportunities and am fully prepared to move further in my education and my future career."
She added, "Because of this generosity, I was able to accomplish my goals much faster than on my own. This scholarship has changed my life. I would not be where I am today and accomplished all I have without the Morgan Scholarship."
During the program, board members remembered the late Harry Loder. A close friend of Morgan, Loder administered Morgan's philanthropic and person concerns after serving many years in the position of controller for the J.E. Morgan Knitting Mills, Inc.
"I think he'd (John E. Morgan) like us (Morgan Foundation) to say that he used his money wisely," said the late Loder in a prior interview. "He liked to see people get an education and he also wanted to see them well taken care of."