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by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D.

When it came to helping students, Dr. Herbert Nakata made it his life’s work. Beginning in 1970 and for the next 28 years, he helped establish 11 endowed scholarships fund that are still supporting students today.

“I have a lot of empathy for students,” said Dr. Nakata emeritus professor and former chair of the Microbiology department at WSU. “I know how tough it is for them, and college was a lot less expensive back then than it is today.”

Shortly after Dr. Nakata became chair in 1968, he started an alumni newsletter encouraging former students to give back. The first newsletter was sent to about 150 alumni, but by the time he retired in 1993, the newsletter was reaching around 1700 alumni.

“Through Allied Health grants, the department was fortunate to buy more modern laboratory equipment, which helped attract students to come here,” said Nakata. “With more alumni the giving really blossomed.”

His dedication to students and to the microbiology degree allowed Dr. Nakata to connect with alumni; including a 1930 graduate who believed WSU made such a difference in his life that he left half the sale of his home to Microbiology. And in the years 2011 to 2012, 18 students received financial assistance because of the funds Dr. Nakata spearheaded.

“Today undergraduates have several scholarships they can apply for,” said Dr. Nakata. “I feel that is my legacy.”

To learn more about student scholarships in the School for Molecular Biosciences, visit Scholarships & Financial Aid.

Herbert M. Nakata joined the WSU faculty in 1959, and served as chair of the Bacteriology and Public Health/Microbiology department for 24 years. He retired in 1993 and as professor emeritus Dr. Nakata remains active in the School of Molecular Biosciences, which was established about 10 years ago and houses biochemistry, genetics and cell biology, and microbiology. The school joined the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. The Herbert M. Nakata Microbiology Fund was established in 1993 by the Department of Microbiology to provide support for undergraduate and graduate students in honor of Dr. Nakata.