Retired math professor gives Northern Virginia Community College $1 million


    Dr. Richard Semmler (ABC7)

    At Northern Virginia Community College, Dr. Richard Semmler's name appears on doors, plaques, and on this day a five-tiered cake.

    "It just inspires me the multitude of people he's helped," former NOVA student Tom Motak said.

    Semmler, a former mathematics professor at the college, has an amazing record of giving. It started in 1968 with a $25.00 donation to his alma mater: Plattsburgh State University of New York. "When I went to school I was able to benefit from scholarships at a time when I really didn't have a lot of money so once I graduated I decided it was time to give money back," Semmler said.

    In 1988, he made his first donation to NOVA. Thirty years later, the college is celebrating Semmler's decades of contributions that stand at $1 million. "I've never seen someone more committed; someone who has made more personal sacrifices for others than Richard Semmler. It's one of the most remarkable stories I've ever seen," NOVA President Scott Ralls said.

    Much of Semmler's support has funded scholarships and financial aid to hundreds of students like 22-year-old Lisbeth Valladares. "I think it's beautiful and I think it's amazing that he has the heart to be able to do so," she said.

    Semmler has a heart for giving money and time; dedicating himself to causes like Habitat for Humanity and the Central Union Mission. His commitment has required a no frills lifestyle. Semmler has lived without a phone, internet, and vacations but has no regrets. "I've had to make a lot of sacrifices along the way but I'm glad I did it," he said.

    In addition to the $1 million in contributions to NOVA, Semmler has given more than $1 million to other charitable causes.

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