Scholarships established for music education and occupational safety students at Fairmont State University
David Warren Harper, M.S., dedicated his career to safety, health, and loss control. He taught at East Fairmont High School and worked in industry and higher education, emphasizing the importance of safety in various settings. In his memory, the Occupational Safety Scholarship has been created to strengthen professionals and programs in businesses, organizations, and industries, with the goal of reducing accidents and fatalities.
“We extend heartfelt gratitude to David Warren Harper, M.S. and Nancy Valentine Harper, Ed. D. for their generous support of the Occupational Safety Scholarship at Fairmont State University, benefiting both our students and West Virginia natives,”” said Abby Chapman, Assistant Professor of Occupational Safety. “Their commitment equips future safety professionals to ensure workplaces are secure, incidents are minimized, and lives are saved. This scholarship not only empowers students but also addresses the growing demand for safety experts in various industries. David Warren Harper's dedication to Occupational Safety illuminates the path to a safer professional world, particularly for the people of West Virginia."
“This scholarship will provide valuable financial assistance to students in our unique Occupational Safety program,” said Dean of the College of Science and Technology, Steve Roof. “Fairmont State is one of only twelve institutions in the country where graduates also earn the designation Graduate Safety Practitioner.”
David’s parents understood the importance of education and encouraged Mr. Harper and his four siblings to pursue advanced degrees. He studied at West Virginia University, earning degrees in Social Studies, Health and Physical Education, and Secondary Education in 1970, followed by a master’s degree in industrial safety and safety education in 1972. David was a consummate safety professional and a selfless person who placed the needs of others ahead of his own.
Nancy Valentine Harper, Ed.D., a Fairmont State alumna and David’s widow, began her career in music education at East Fairmont High School before transitioning to the Marion County 4-H youth development program, and later advancing to National 4-H Program Leader with the United States Department of Agriculture. By financially supporting scholarships in music education, her legacy will continue to support the programs that provided the foundation for a long and successful career.
“The College of Education, Health and Human Performance extends our heartfelt gratitude to our generous donors, Mr. and Dr. Harper, whose support is paving the way for a brighter future in arts education,” said Dr. Amanda Metcalf, Dean of the College of Education, Health and Human Performance. “We firmly believe in the transformative power of the arts and their role in providing a well-rounded education that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and personal development. The creative arts offer a unique platform for students to explore their inner worlds, express their thoughts, and find their voices. They teach us to embrace diversity, to appreciate different perspectives, and to connect with the world on a deeper level.”
Metcalf continues and describes how this gift will affect the outcomes of future arts educators at Fairmont State.
“Thanks to the Harper's generosity, we can continue nurturing the next generation of artists, educators, and thinkers who will shape the lives of those in which they engage. Our deepest appreciation is extended to our Mr. and Dr. Harper for recognizing the transformative potential of art education. Through their support, they are aiding us in inspiring and preparing the next generation of educators who will, in turn, inspire countless others.”
Nancy received a four-year scholarship to study music at Fairmont State, and she was the first in her family to attend college. She considers her time at the University to be some of the most enjoyable years of her life. She was involved in various student organizations, including Sigma Kappa Sorority, Sigma Alpha Iota Women’s Music Honorary Fraternity, and performing as a piano accompanist for the Collegiate Choir. Nancy values her experiences at Fairmont State for setting her on a path to a successful career and she hopes that this scholarship will foster the same passion for learning and service in those receiving this financial assistance.
The couple’s giving philosophy has been guided by the familiar proverb “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” Nancy explained her hope that by providing scholarship assistance to young people, they will be “fed” for a lifetime by acquiring academic knowledge, skills, and abilities to improve their own lives, the lives of others, their communities, and the world.
“My undergraduate degree from Fairmont State served as the foundation for a long and productive career,” said Nancy. “I would like other young people to have similar experiences on which to start their trajectories into productive, positive family members, employees, and citizens, some of whom may change the world.”
The David Warren Harper, M.S., and Nancy Valentine Harper, Ed.D., Occupational Safety Scholarship, and the David Warren Harper, M.S., and Nancy Valentine Harper, Ed.D., Music Education and/or Education Scholarship will provide financial assistance to qualifying first-generation students living in West Virginia. Preference will be given to West Virginia 4-H and Future Farmers of America members from Randolph and Marion Counties, further emphasizing the commitment to supporting local students. If no music education students are available for the related scholarship, students in other education fields will be considered.
Christine Murphy holds an accounting degree from Fairmont State and currently serves as the President of FCX Systems, Inc. in Morgantown. She joined FCX in 2010 as the Controller before advancing to the President role. Prior to her time at FCX, Christine worked for the West Virginia University Foundation for eighteen years, where she was responsible for disbursements of over $40M. While there, she established the purchasing/corporate card program, prepared monthly financial statements, trained internal and external users on software applications, and assisted in the development of a customized software program.
Christine serves on the WVMA Board of Directors and on the Finance Committee of the United Way of Monongalia and Preston County. Previously, she served as the Assistant Treasurer of the United Way of Monongalia and Preston County. She has also served as the Treasurer of a community basketball league and has been both a coach and a coordinator within the same league.
Adam Rohaly is an Architect and part owner of Omni Associates Architects in Fairmont. He has twenty years of experience in the architecture field and is a partner in multiple private development companies. Adam is a member of the City of Fairmont ICC Board of Appeals, the Fairmont Field Club Board of Directors, and serves as the Vice President of Augusta Development Corporation. He is also a licensed General Contractor and part owner of a small service plumbing company. Adam lives in Fairmont with his wife, Misty, and their two active sons, Rio and Simon.
After graduating from Fairmont State in 1990 with a major in accounting and a minor in computer science, Linda Rudy began a career spanning 30+ years in not-for-profit accounting, financial, and operational management. Early in her career, she served in accounting and financial roles at WVU and the WVU Foundation before serving as Assistant Dean for Finance and Administration in the WVU School of Dentistry and in a financial advisory role in the AVP for Finance area at the WVU Health Sciences Center. During this time, she also earned an MBA from WVU.
After stepping out of academia for ten years to lead a physician group practice and the county EMS organization for Mon Health System, Linda returned to higher education to serve as Associate Dean for Finance & Administration in the WVU Schools of Public Health, Dentistry, and the Chambers College of Business & Economics before her family relocated to the Miami, Florida area. While there, Linda served as Senior Business Officer for the University of Miami’s College of Engineering.
In 2021, Linda relocated to Richmond, VA to serve as CFO of the William & Mary School of Marine Science, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), and the VIMS Foundation. In her current role, she leads the offices of Finance, Budget, Sponsored Programs, Analytics, Procurement, and Administrative Operations and manages a total financial portfolio of over $200M.
In addition to his role as a commercial insurance agent with Mountain State Insurance Agency, Brady Campbell maintains a law practice focused on contract negotiations and criminal defense. He is a graduate of West Virginia University, earning both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the school before earning his JD in 2012. In the community, Brady serves as the Chairman for the WV IIABA Young Insurance Professionals. He is the Vice President of the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association Board of Directors and is a member of the West Virginia Trucking Association Board of Directors. He is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy and a former member of the Charleston City Council. Brady also served as the WVU Mountaineer Mascot from 2006 through 2008. In his free time, he enjoys outdoor activities including gardening, camping, golfing, and skiing. He lives in Charleston, WV with his wife, Rachel, and his son, Jack.
Santino Cava is a 2019 graduate of West Virginia University and a 2021 graduate of the NADA Academy. He is the son of Dan and Michelle Cava and has served as the General Manager of Dan Cava Toyota World since 2021. Santino has been in the car business with his father for the past eight years.
Alethea Moody Wise is the daughter of Fairmont State Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Moody. She is the second woman in WVU Track and Field History to earn the All-American status, and proudly owns the Women’s High Jump outdoor record which was set in 1990 and still stands today. After earning a Marketing degree from WVU, Alethea began her real estate career. She served as the Secretary, Vice President, and President of the Fairmont Board of Realtors and was a member of the MLS Board of Directors. She continues to be a leader in her firm, Compass Realty Group.
Along with her husband Ed, Alethea also runs a successful real estate business which strives to give a new start to dilapidated homes that would otherwise be razed. She was recently highlighted by WBOY-12 for her interior design of a home in the South Park Historic District of Morgantown. She is the proud mother of Haley, Ashley, and Sydney, who are all active in the family real estate business. A member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Alethea continues to serve her community by working with Scott’s Place to provide affordable housing to those without homes.
“The relationship between Fairmont State University and the Fairmont State Foundation is critical to the long-term success of the university and of higher education in the region,” said Fairmont State University President Dr. Mike Davis. “This partnership is bolstered by the impressive backgrounds of the new members who have agreed to serve. The future is bright, and I look forward to building it together.”
The new members were approved at the Fairmont State Foundation Board of Directors annual meeting in June, beginning their tenure as board members on July 1. The Foundation Board of Directors is led by Chair Dixie Yann, Vice-Chair Kim Pellillo, Secretary Kevin Wilfong, and Treasurer John Guido.
Fairmont State’s American Society of Civil Engineers student chapter swept the concrete canoe competition at the ASCE Virginias Regionals Symposium hosted by Marshall University on April 14.
In addition to taking home the overall team title, Fairmont also earned first-place in each of five races as well as the following categories: technical proposal, project presentation and final product.
“This has been an exceptional weekend for the student chapter,” said Tabitha Lafferre, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Technology and ASCE Student Chapter Faculty Advisor. “The students truly put their heart, blood, sweat and tears in to this year-long project.”
The ASCE Virginias Regionals Symposium provides students from schools across West Virginia and Virginia a chance to gain valuable hands-on experience by competing in many engineering-related competitions. For the concrete canoe competition in particular, students must follow strict rules that dictate the contents of the concrete matrix in building the canoe and, of course, the vessel must float, to be eligible to compete in the races. The canoe entered in this year’s competition, named “Black Diamond,” is a tribute to coal miners and West Virginia’s status as a top coal producer in the country.
According to Lafferre, this marks the 18th regional level win for Fairmont State. The team will now move on to the national concrete canoe competition at the ASCE Civil Engineering Student Championship hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville from June 10 to 12.
“The team always has a goal of placing in the top 10 overall,” said Lafferre. “Even though the regional symposium is over, they’ll continue practicing paddling until the last day of the spring semester.”
To help fund the trip, the Fairmont State ASCE student chapter held an elimination dinner at the Knights of Columbus on May 5th. The dinner included a buffet-style meal, historical presentation, keynote address, canoe display, gift basket raffles and a $1,000 cash prize.
Planned enhancements include the addition of Velocity Based Training (Vitruve) devices and ANCORE PRO functional trainers for all eight squat racks in the weight room. With these upgrades, Fairmont State Athletics can continue providing student-athletes with the highest performance training.
“Our second Fighting Falcons Lift-a-Thon was a huge success,” said Fairmont State’s Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Adam Kolberg. “We had 278 student-athletes participate, and thanks to their tremendous efforts and the gracious support of sponsors, we raised over $8,500 for the strength and conditioning program.”
Fairmont State University honored graduates during the University’s 154th Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 6 in the Feaster Center.
“Commencement is always an uplifting and exciting event on our campus,” said Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tim Oxley. “Not only does it represent centuries of higher education tradition, it marks a significant milestone in the lives of our graduates that will serve them well throughout their lives. Commencement also reminds the University’s faculty and staff members of the importance of what we do, and why we do it; focused on a culmination of teaching, learning, and student engagement.”
This year’s commencement speaker was Fairmont State alumnus William “Bus” Jaco, Ph.D. The Grafton, WV native is Regents Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, and Adjunct Professor of Mathematics at Rice University. He holds degrees from Fairmont State University (B.A. Cum Laude), Penn State University (M.A.), and University of Wisconsin-Madison (Ph.D.). He held faculty positions at University of Michigan and Rice University before joining the faculty at Oklahoma State University as Head of the Department of Mathematics in 1982 and was appointed Grayce B. Kerr Chair in 1993, an endowed position that he held until his retirement in 2021.
During his time at Fairmont State, Jaco was heavily involved in Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity when not in the classroom. During his speech, he fondly remembered his previous Professor in Mathematics, Dr. James La Rue who he referred to as an “advisor, mentor and friend.” La Rue had encouraged Jaco to continue on to higher education with his studies in math. When Dr. Jaco graduated from the College on the Hill in 1962, his son had attended with him donning a miniature cap and gown. Dr. Jaco returned to campus as commencement speaker and his wife, Linda, and eldest son were again with him for the occasion.
Jaco spoke briefly about his many accomplishments, achievements, and experiences that followed graduation from Fairmont State. He had enrolled in classes as a first-generation college student, hoping to make a living as a math teacher. He graduated with the determination and confidence to turn his dream into an incredible career. “Over the 61 years following my graduation from Fairmont State, I have held either a research, a teaching and research, or an administrative position in nine different states, through appointments at twenty different research institutions, and I have travelled the world to collaborate on research and work with colleagues spread across nine countries.”
Before ending his speech, Jaco left the graduates with some words of advice, emphasizing the importance of hard work and the inevitability of change. He reminded the class of 2023 to take chances, stating “I would rather be sorry for something I did, than to be sorry for something I never did do.” Finally, he encouraged them to view their time at Fairmont State as only the beginning of a lifetime of learning.
When asked about his experience returning to campus as the commencement speaker, he explained that learning of the wide array of programs offered at Fairmont State and seeing the graduates made him “impressed and proud to be there
Kickin’ it for Katy 5K Run/Walk raised awareness for suicide prevention, funds for forensics students
The Fairmont State University Forensic Science Program hosted the second annual ‘Kickin’ it for Katy’ 5K run and walk on Saturday, April 29, on the University’s campus. All proceeds from the race go to the Kaitlynn Towson Forensic Memorial Award to raise awareness around suicide prevention, benefiting Fairmont State Forensic Science students.
“We are pleased to see the outpouring of support from this community, and we are excited to watch Kickin’ it for Katy grow,” said Gina Dixon, the grandmother of Kaitlynn Towson. “Our family is proud that Katy’s name and story will be remembered and that we are spreading awareness.”
After the race, participants and spectators were invited to the ‘Stomp Out the Stigma’ celebration hosted by Falcon Wellness and Mental Health Services on the Falcon Center Quad for race awards, live music, food vendors, raffle prizes, a dunk tank and more.
“These two events are a natural fit together as they both support the mission of suicide awareness and prevention, which is especially important in our college-age students,” said Forensic Science Program Coordinator Mark Flood. “The scholarship money being raised is in memory and support of Katy’s legacy and will mean that these collaborative short-term events will have a longer-lasting impact.”
“We want students to know that their mental health is our priority here at Fairmont State University,” said Director of Student Health Chelsea Collins. “All supporters of mental wellness are invited to come and promote mental well-being. Students are not alone, we want them here with us to enjoy life.”
Fairmont State’s Ruth Ann Musick Library hosted its first writing contest this March in which Fairmont State University students submitted work based on the American Library Association’s National Library Week theme, “There’s More to the Story.”
Students were encouraged to write either a short story or a poetry submission inspired by the theme of “There’s More to the Story” and the prompt “Photo and/or Diary." Nineteen submissions were received: eight short story submissions and eleven poetry submissions. The selected winners for the short story category include Avary King (first place), Sydney Brooks (second place), and Natalie Clingenpeel (third place). The selected winners of the poetry category include Molly Simpson (first place), Alexandra Mellott (second place), and Vetra Foster (third place).
Reilly Crow, a junior Graphic Design Technology major from Glendale, West Virginia, established the contest in partnership with the Ruth Ann Musick Library staff . “People need a way to express themselves,” he said. “When people share stories, there are always some left-out details. With the theme “There’s More to the Story,” we see what reading stories are for.”
Each first place winner received a $250 cash prize and publication in next year’s edition of Whetstone, Fairmont State University’s undergraduate literary and art journal.
“We have a lot of creative, amazing young people on this campus that are growing, changing, and always doing awesome things,” said Jacquelynn Sherman, Assistant Library Director.“Their accomplishments are just one example, one little piece of the whole that makes Fairmont State such a great place to learn.”
Tackett currently has a family scholarship at a Reno community college and desired to create a similar opportunity for Fairmont Senior High School students wishing to attend Fairmont State University.
“It is wonderful to be able to offer this new scholarship to a student who will be attending Fairmont State University, following in the footsteps of Mr. Tackett,” said Alex Eddy, counselor at Fairmont Senior High School. “Approximately 54% of our graduates at Fairmont Senior High School pursue a college degree and 40% receive some type of scholarship.”
Recipients of the G. Robert Tackett, Class of 1948 Scholarship Endowment must be full-time undergraduate students at Fairmont State University, a graduate from Fairmont Senior High School and maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average.
“Although Mr. Tackett resides states away, the fondness he has for his hometown and alma mater is shown clear as day through this contribution,” said Fairmont State Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Alicia Kalka. “We are beyond grateful for Mr. Tackett considering the younger generation of Fairmont with this scholarship.”
“It is incredibly meaningful to us that as Falcons grow and find success, no matter where they settle, they remember and celebrate their roots and the impact Fairmont State has made on their lives,” said Rachel Rae Dyer, President of Fairmont State Foundation. “We are excited to see the success this scholarship will provide for Fairmont Senior High School graduates at Fairmont State. We are grateful and humbled Mr. Tackett has entrusted his legacy to us.”
After completing her undergraduate degree at Fairmont State and earning a master’s degree in education, Lucille began a lifelong career as an educator and principal at various schools within the Harrison County School System.
Together, the Andersons served their community in various organizations including Delta Kappa Gamma, American Association of University Women, Queen Esther Chapter of Eastern Star, Ladies Oriental Shrine, Order of Amaranth, Shinnston Women’s Club, Harrison County Association of Retired School Employees, Quiet Dell Garden Club and the First United Methodist of Quiet Dell. Their service to the community was not ignorant of future generations.
“Seba and Lucille did not have any children, but they wanted to provide for the kids in Harrison County,” said David. Thus, Lucille entrusted Fairmont State University to provide Lincoln High School students a scholarship opportunity to pursue a four-year college degree.
“They wanted Lincoln High School students to benefit because Lincoln High School, which used to be the Shinnston High School, is where they both graduated from,” said Rebecca Moore, a close family friend to the Andersons.
The Seba T. and Lucille B. Anderson Endowed Scholarship will be available to graduates of Lincoln High School or students of Harrison County with a minimum grade point average of 2.8 or higher.
“The Anderson’s generous gift will undoubtedly make a difference in the lives of many students,” said Fairmont State Assistant Vice President of Enrollment and Student Life Alicia Kalka, “Seba and Lucille’s commitment to education is admirable, and mirrors Fairmont State’s own institutional value of providing accessible higher education to students from all walks of life.”
“Seba and Lucille clearly valued education and understood the impact higher education has on the trajectory of students’ lives. Many of the students at Fairmont State University share the same grit and determination to succeed as Lucille did working on her family’s farm. Through this scholarship, many hard-working students will receive much needed assistance to make their college degree a reality. We are incredibly grateful to steward this gift on behalf of Seba and Lucille Anderson,” said Rachel Rae Dyer, President of the Fairmont State Foundation.
The community of Fairmont State University, and greater Marion County, fostered Elliott’s career as a student-athlete, local high school coach, coach at Fairmont State, and Fairmont State’s Director of Athletics for 27 years. With the love and support of the community shown to Elliott and his family, it was the ability to reciprocate the support to future Fighting Falcons that inspired the creation of the scholarship.
“I loved every minute of it. It was an opportunity for me to fall in love with the school even more after all of those years,” said Elliott. “Mary Jo and I wanted to give back to help students graduate and better their lives, because Fairmont State bettered my life. It made me a better person and helped me provide for my family.”
“With the rising costs of higher education combined with the desire to field competitive athletic teams, athletic scholarships are vital to the success of the teams and ultimately the success of the student-athletes at Fairmont State,” said Greg Bamberger, current Director of Athletics.
“The passion that Rusty and Mary Jo have for students’ success is nothing short of inspirational,” said Rachel Rae Dyer, President of the Fairmont State Foundation. “Fairmont State University student-athletes can learn a great deal about leadership, commitment, and teamwork, as they represent the University in their chosen sport. As Rusty demonstrated throughout his life and career, these experiences will guide Fairmont State student-athletes as they complete their degrees and embark on their professional and personal journeys in West Virginia and beyond. Through this gift, the Elliotts are continuing their legacy of leadership in the Falcon Community. We have a deep gratitude for their continued generosity, and we appreciate their continued commitment to Fairmont State University.”
The Mary Jo and Coach Rusty Elliott Endowed Athletic Scholarship will be available for full-time undergraduate student-athletes in a Fairmont State University Athletics program. Students must be a Junior or Senior, and a graduate of a Marion County, West Virginia High School.
“Fairmont State was wonderful for me,” said Dr. Jude Black, President of the Appalachian Life Enrichment Counseling Center in Fairmont. “It was big enough that I could get lost in, but small enough that I could stay grounded when I needed to.”
Dr. Black, 1990 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts with a degree in Criminal Justice, presented career advice and career optimization to students in psychology courses and the Student Veterans Organization. She credits Fairmont State as the birthplace of her independence and confidence as an entrepreneur of a prominent local business.
“I loved the foundation that I got through Fairmont State. It’s where learning clicked for me,” said Black. “I really had to learn how to apply myself and that helped me with a lot of my business decisions. I never knew I could fail because it wasn’t something I considered.”
Dr. Mitch Sokolosky, a 1988 graduate with a degree in Biology from the College of Science and Technology and the Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, presented biology and healthcare management to students in biology courses and the Tri-Beta Biology Honors Association. He attributes the experiences he had as a Falcon in shaping his career in emergency medicine.
“I took an emergency medical technician elective. It wasn’t required for my degree, but it allowed me the opportunity to volunteer in a local ambulance service and later become a paramedic in Fairmont,” said Sokoloksy. “Fairmont State is the reason I became an emergency physician.”
Bill Black, 1989 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts and Vice President of Operations at Appalachian Life Enrichment Counseling Center, presented leadership lessons and career advice to students in the National Security and Intelligence program, the Student Government Association and the Student Veterans Organization.
Danijel Velicki, 2000 graduate of the College of Business and Aviation and Founder and CEO of Sqwire, a company which conducts financial wellness courses, presented on financial literacy and business leadership with the men’s basketball team and students in business ethics courses.
Ryan Weld, 2003 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts with a degree in Political Science and West Virginia State Senate Majority Whip, presented leadership lessons and career advice to students in the National Security and Intelligence program and the Student Government Association. Weld, a former member of the Men’s Swimming team also took time to meet with members of the current Men’s and Women’s Swimming teams to share experiences from his time as a student athlete.
Gerard Schmidt, 1971 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts with a degree in Psychology and Chief Operations Officer of Valley Healthcare System, an institution designed to treat patients facing addiction, mental illness, and disabilities, presented leadership lessons and shared advice on mental health nursing to students in the Nursing program.
Robert Hawkins, 1970 graduate with a Bachelor of Arts Degree and Retired Director of Faculty Professional Education at Defense Acquisition University, presented to students on the value of a degree in education. He also gave his presentation “Elements of Change: How Learning is Being Redefined” to faculty in the College of Education Health and Human Performance.
Roberta Stronsider, 1967 graduate of the College of Education, Health, and Human Performance and Professor Emerita in Special Education at Towson University and Co-Director of the Institute on Executive Functioning, presented to education faculty and students on accelerating students’ executive growth the utilizing explicit instruction of metacognitive strategies.
“It’s difficult to express how much we appreciate the investment of each of these alumni making time to come back and pour into our students. The value that they provided with their years of insight and experience has been incalculable,” said Tim Liebrecht, Director of Development. “We are so proud to be able to help connect alumni back to our current students and faculty and we look forward to more of these events in the future.”
The Smith's children, Sherry Brown, Sherry's husband Dave Brown, Sue Post, and Eugene “Bob” Smith, chose to establish the Fellows Program after recognizing the unique needs of first generation college students.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Smith family,” said Fairmont State University Interim President Dianna Phillips. “As a family with three first-generation college graduates, they have a deep understanding of the profound impacts of higher education. They also have a keen understanding of the unique challenges faced by first-generation students and their needs while transitioning to life on a college campus. These gifts will allow us to continue to provide critical services to our campus community, specifically our first-generation students, while serving our mission to provide a transformative education.”
The first class of fellows were named during the summer of 2022 and were provided the opportunity for an immersive orientation experience. Fellows spent a week at Fairmont State learning about the academic resources available to them through the University and learning to navigate the campus.
Meals, lodging and all activities are provided at no cost to students participating in the Datha and Gene Smith summer program. Following their summer immersion experience, fellows will continue to receive weekly academic and coaching support from peer mentors. As this pilot program evolves, it will serve as a powerful recruiting and retention tool for the University.
In addition to the launch of the Summer Bridge program, the existing Learning Enrichment and Academic Development (LEAD) Center – a tutoring and testing center – has been renamed the Datha & Gene Smith Center. In years past, the Smiths have also established a need-based scholarship and provided support for the Frank and Jane Gabor Folklife Center facility.
Datha and Gene Smith, both native West Virginians, spent most of their lives in Marion County, West Virginia before retiring to Florida. Their children and five of their grandchildren attended Fairmont State.
“This gift from the Teahan family ensures that students can broaden their educational exploration with immersive travel experiences that complement their fields of study. Opportunities to study abroad can be life-changing for college students, providing invaluable perspectives and fostering curiosity,” said Rae Dyer, Fairmont State Foundation President. “Each student who benefits from this scholarship will honor Midge’s love for exploration and learning. We celebrate the Teahan family for providing this opportunity at Fairmont State University.”
Teahan’s children Julie Teahan, Margaret Teahan, and John Teahan wish to share with students the love of learning and exploration that inspired their mother to travel around the world.
“You only grow when you’re uncomfortable, and often you need to leave what you know to grow,” said Julie Teahan. “We thought this scholarship would give students an opportunity to experience a different culture, place, and from that grow.”
The Teahan family believes in the words of Irish poet W.B. Yeats to describe the life experiences of Midge and those they wish for Fairmont State University through the Midge Teahan Travel Scholarship, “There is another world, but it is in this one.”
“This scholarship presented by the Teahan family will open doors for many Fairmont State students to step into the international world and experience new communities and cultures,” said Coordinator of Educational Pathway for International Centers and Students Sarah Sakaguchi. “As a university, it is our mission to create global citizens and even more, global leaders. Students who travel abroad are more likely to graduate, to succeed, and have higher marketability in the job market. As we are revitalizing Study Abroad in a post pandemic world, understanding international cultures and fostering relationships is incredibly important and we are so grateful for this opportunity that the Teahan family has provided.”
The Midge Teahan Travel Scholarship will be available for undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled full-time and have applied for a study abroad program. Preference will be given to undergraduate students. Students must be a resident of West Virginia and maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
For the fourth year in a row, Fairmont State University embarked on its annual Falcon Day of Giving on Thursday, October 27. During this 24-hour fundraising marathon, 891 alumni and friends joined together to raise more than $375,000 supporting 44 colleges and programs throughout campus. During this year’s Day of Giving, donors provided nearly $109,000 for scholarships, and $174,000 for athletic programs.
“We are so grateful for the alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community that came together to make this year’s Falcon Day of Giving a success” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Rachel Rae Dyer. “This year we’ve seen record engagement and record giving. It takes the entire Falcon Community coming together to support the important work of Fairmont State University. The generosity demonstrated on Day of Giving is a clear indication of the transformational impact Fairmont State University has had on the lives of so many. We want to ensure that everyone who participated knows how meaningful their gifts were. The results are both humbling and inspiring.”
Academic units raised close to $70,000 for departments, programs, and special initiatives. An additional $77,347 in gifts were earmarked for academic scholarships this year.
“The Day of Giving contributions have become a meaningful financial boost to each of the academic units. These dollars help support various needs across the campus such as scholarships, faculty development, teaching and/or learning enhancements,” according to Dr. Timothy Oxley, Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Regardless of the initiatives or programs these very generous contributions support, the focus is centered on improving the students’ learning experience. We are grateful to those who see the Day of Giving as a worthwhile endeavor.”
The College of Liberal Arts raised the most dollars for a college or school this year, earning $30,710 for several programs, including the Academy for the Arts and the Community Arts program.
“The Academy for the Arts and Community Arts programs at Fairmont State University are so incredibly grateful for all of the very generous donors we had on Falcon Day of Giving,” Leigh Anne Bolyard, Director of Performing Arts Outreach and Development expressed. “The support from our community during our Falcon Day of Giving kickoff concert and Falcon Day of Giving was incredible. These donations will help us continue to provide the top-notch performing arts experiences that our community is accustomed to seeing at Fairmont State University.”
Gifts for the Academy for the Arts program will provide scholarships for students, fund the Youth Theatre Company Spring Musicals, and support visiting artists for youth masterclasses. Donations for Community Arts will go toward the purchase of microphones for use during theatre productions and audio/visual monitor system upgrades. These gifts will also help to offset the cost of the Town and Gown Community plays and musicals and allow for visiting artists to perform free community concerts.
Athletics raised $174,271 for team sports and athletic programs, and an additional $31,455 for athletic scholarships. These gifts will allow the department to increase scholarships for deserving students-athletes, permit the purchase of specialized training equipment, and help offset the cost of increased travel expenses.
“I can’t say enough about the support the Athletics Department received on Day of Giving. The generosity of our Falcon Fans was evident to all,” said Greg Bamberger, Director of Athletics. “Ultimately, your gifts will help to enhance our programs in many ways. Whether you are a parent, a student-athlete (past or present), University staff or faculty, alum, or a friend of the Fighting Falcons, your generosity is greatly, greatly appreciated.”
“What a day our Day of Giving was!” Dr. Dianna Phillips, Fairmont State’s Interim President, said. “Once again, this community showed its generosity and its commitment to our shared mission of making educational and professional dreams come true. I am so grateful for this community—each year on our Day of Giving we rally together to manifest a shared responsibility to sustain and enrich the life-changing experience of a Fairmont State education.”
Special events leading up to Falcon Day of Giving included a mini-golf tournament hosted by the College of Business and Aviation, a kick-off concert hosted by the Community Arts program, and a happy hour event hosted by the Fairmont State Foundation and the Marion County Chamber of Commerce.
During Day of Giving festivities, the Sweet Taste of Victory challenge was held again this year. 9 of the 17 coaches were rewarded with a pie in the face for having 40 or more donors support their respective teams. Additionally, Athletic Director Greg Bamberger received a pie in the face in recognition of the number of donors surpassing 300 for athletics overall.
A dunk tank challenge was introduced this year, allowing willing participants to risk a plunge in exchange for dollars toward their preferred department or program. Courageous volunteers included Dr. Alyssa Schwartz on behalf of the Marching Band, Dr. Paul Reneau on behalf of Health & Human Performance, Jeff McCormick on behalf of the Police Academy, Justin Rader on behalf of Student Government and Spencer Flanagan on behalf of the Staff Council Scholarship. In celebration of meeting the goal, Dr. Dianna Phillips took the plunge herself on Friday afternoon.
Fairmont State University and the Fairmont State Foundation wish to thank all of our donors, ambassadors, and volunteers for participating in the 2022 Falcon Day of Giving.
A Marion County family has provided a gift of $26,000 to Fairmont State University to create a new scholarship for future teachers. The donation will establish the Roman and Amelia Prezioso Endowed Scholarship benefitting students in the Teacher Education program in the College of Education, Health & Human Performance.
Roman Prezioso Jr., his wife, Deborah Prezioso, and his sister, Marie Prezioso, have established the scholarship in honor of the parents of Roman Jr. and Marie. The Prezioso family wishes to honor the value that their parents and grandparents placed on education with this generous gift.
“My grandparents came to the United States in the early 1900s to make a living, practice their religion and educate their children. My parents, Roman Sr. and Amelia, held the same values and encouraged me and my sister to pursue college degrees after high school,” Roman Jr. said. “We believe the education of our youth is the foundation of our state and country.”
When asked why the family chose to support students at Fairmont State, Prezioso Jr. said, “Higher education has given our family tremendous opportunities for success. Additionally, the Teacher Education program at Fairmont State is one of the best of its kind, making this endowed scholarship for future teachers an easy choice. We are honored and humbled to give back so that others will be able to achieve their dreams.”
Roman Prezioso Jr. is a 1971 graduate of Fairmont State who went on to serve in education administration and as a West Virginia State Senator. Deborah Prezioso completed her education at Fairmont State in 1973 and is a retired elementary school teacher. Marie Prezioso is a retired investment banker who currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Water Development Authority.
“Quality educators are foundational to our society, and Fairmont State has a rich history of preparing highly skilled professionals for the classroom,” said Foundation President, Rae Dyer. “Through the generosity of the Prezioso family, we can continue the tradition of teacher education, and ensure deserving students have access to the focused and personalized education experience offered by the University. We are so grateful that the Preziosos have chosen to honor Roman Sr. and Amelia with this gift.”
The Roman and Amelia Prezioso Endowed Scholarship will be available to students enrolled in the Teacher Education program at Fairmont State University’s College of Education, Health & Human Performance. Students should maintain a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Preference will be given to students from Marion County, W.Va.
“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of the Prezioso family,” said Fairmont State University Interim President, Dianna Phillips. “Our region and state continue to face a critical teacher shortage within our K-12 schools. Through this gift the Preziosos are affording us the opportunity to continue combating this crisis head on, while ensuring transformative opportunities for future generations of educators.”