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Merl Fair Allen Scholarship Endowment established

The Morehead State University Foundation has announced the establishment of the Merl Fair Allen Scholarship, a fund to benefit MSU students. The scholarship's first recipient is Tristan Lands, a freshman biomedical sciences major from Morehead. Her goal is to become a forensic pathologist.  

“I intend to complete my undergraduate and go on to get my doctorate degree, which will cost an extensive amount of money. Receiving this scholarship to help support my undergraduate degree will allow me to save money to use toward funding my graduate degrees,” Lands said. “Without this scholarship, I would not be able to attend college and follow my passion in life.” 

The scholarship's namesake is the late Merl Fair Allen (48) of Morehead, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 89. Allen was a 1944 graduate from Breckinridge Training School. She later graduated from then-named Morehead College in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in home economics.  She also received a master’s degree and Rank I certification from MSU. As a student at Breck, Allen met her future husband, the late John “Sonny” Allen (50). Sonny was a legendary baseball and basketball player at Morehead State and later went on to become a long-time MSU baseball coach (John Sonny Allen Field on campus was named in his honor). 

Allen taught high school home economics for 30 years. She served 32 years on the Board of Directors of the MSU Alumni Association, including a two-year term as president. She followed that with two decades as secretary and member of the Board of Trustees of the MSU Foundation. Allen volunteered for half a century at MSU and was later nominated to the University’s Alumni Hall of Fame and named the 2003 recipient of the Founder’s Award for University Service. 

The Merl Fair Allen Scholarship was created by Allen’s children Dwayne Edward Allen (84), Janie Allen Holbrook, Susan Jeanette Allen Chin (77) and Patricia Allen James (79). Scholarship criteria includes recipients being incoming freshmen who are graduates of Rowan County Senior High School with a minimum high school GPA of 3.0. 

“Mom's generosity of time was not her only contribution. She so valued education at this University, she established two endowments. She established the John “Sonny” Allen Memorial Scholarship in memory of our father. Now, her estate has fully endowed the Merl Fair Allen Scholarship in her memory. We are honored to support those in need seeking a quality education at the institution she held in such high regard,” said the children of Allen. "Our continued hope is to help students get the opportunity to receive a quality education here at MSU and appreciate the importance of giving back to such a worthy institution.” 

To apply for scholarships at Morehead State, visit

For more information on this scholarship, or to establish your own, contact MSU's Office of Alumni Relations and Development at 606-783-2033, email or visit to contribute today. 

Photo, left: Susan Jeanette Allen Chin (77), on behalf of the Allen siblings, presents the Merl Fair Allen Scholarship to Tristan Lands at the Rowan County Senior High School Awards Banquet.