The Fairmont State Foundation recently elected new officers to serve in leadership roles and welcomed three new board members. Foundation serves as the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of Fairmont State University.
Jennifer Kinty, a 1985 graduate of Fairmont State and market president for Summit Community Bank, will take over for Gary LeDonne, a 1984 graduate, as board chair. LeDonne will continue to serve on the board as past chair.
"I am honored to serve for the next two years as the chair of the Fairmont State Foundation Board, and I am excited about the future of both Fairmont State University and the Foundation. Our new board members will bring a great deal of expertise and energy, and we're honored to have them volunteer with us," Kinty said.
Kimberly Del Greco, who joined the board last year, will serve as the vice chair. Del Greco is a resident of Bridgeport and the deputy assistant director for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Roger Stewart, president and chief executive officer of Soles Electric Company will continue to serve as treasurer for the board.
Kim Pellillo will assume the position of secretary. Pellillo is resident of Fairmont and is an associate agent with the Dick Moore Insurance Agency.
The new officers will serve in their positions for two years. New board members include Jeff Gunter; Susan Harper; and Jared Rogers.
Gunter is a 1986 graduate of Fairmont State with a bachelor’s in business administration. Gunter spent his early career in retail banking before transitioning to compliance and internal audit. He served over 10 years as an internal auditor with the Bank of Gassaway, Members Credit Union, and Wachovia Bank, N.A.
Stepping away from auditing in 2001, Gunter joined Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T) as a financial manager responsible for corporate giving and operations of the BB&T Charitable Foundation. In 2005, he returned to auditing, serving as vice president and audit manager for BB&T’s Trust and Wealth Management lines of business and as an executive officer of the Bank of Gassaway, then as a senior management auditor at West Virginia University. Gunter has served since 2015 as vice president of audit, compliance, and risk management at Clear Mountain Bank.
Susan Harper is a 1988 graduate of Fairmont State with a bachelor’s in accounting. She has more 30 years of experience at the Internal Revenue Service as an internal revenue agent and is also an officer of the Pennsylvania Tax Institute. She has served as a fraud technical advisor who specializes in examinations of abusive tax transactions and has instructed the Land Grant University Tax Seminars for West Virginia University, Virginia Tech, and Texas A&M.
Harper is also an AFAA Group Fitness Instructor, and winner of the 2018 Dancing with the Stars Marion County, where she and her dance partner raised a record-breaking $38,000 for United Way. In 2019, the children’s book she wrote for her daughter 20 years ago, “Maple Leaf Adventure,” was published.
Jared Rogers is a 2008 graduate of Fairmont State University with an associate’s degree in Applied Science in Aviation Maintenance Technology. Rogers earned his degree from Fairmont State university before jumping into the electrical contracting industry more than 10 years ago and joining the family business more than three years ago. He works as an electrical estimator for Rogers Electrical Contracting Company, Inc. and, in his spare time, enjoys tinkering with technology and building computers.
“We are very excited about our new board chair and leaders, as well as our new board member,” said Julie R. Cryser, president of the Fairmont State Foundation. “These leaders bring years of experience in both the private and public sectors, and their knowledge and expertise will be a valuable asset to the Fairmont State Foundation."
The parents of a former Fairmont State University student who died last year have created, with the help of several other donors, a new scholarship to support students studying occupational safety and to honor their late son’s memory.
Ellen and Ronnie Shaffer topped off a scholarship fund raising effort to endow the Bradley Parker Shaffer Scholarship. The endowment will provide scholarships to Fairmont State University students studying occupational safety, preferably from Tucker County. If no student is eligible from Tucker County, first preference is for a student from West Virginia. Students must have a minimum of a 2.5 grade point average. The scholarship fund will provide about $1,000 annually for scholarships.
“We had life insurance money in place to repay any loans borrowed for his education, which we learned would be discharged due to his death,” said Ellen. “We felt the best thing to do was to give the money that would have been used to repay his loan to Fairmont State University to provide an opportunity for others to reach their goals. We could not think of a more fitting tribute to honor Bradley’s memory.”
Ellen described Bradley as a vibrant young man whose life was cut short at the age of 24. He was a graduate of Fairmont State University, class of 2018. He graduated with a bachelor’s in occupational safety and an associate’s in safety engineering technology and held the designation of a Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP).
“He had many talents, including intelligence, humor, compassion and adventure, but his greatest attribute was the gift of seeing what was in the heart of others and providing them with what they needed, whether that be attention, time, advice, understanding or acceptance,” Ellen said.
As a student in occupational safety, Bradley fulfilled an internship requirement under the direction of the Fairmont State Safety Manager Craig Crimm.
“He was an exceptional intern and was a tremendous help with the Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) program on campus,” said Crimm. “ He was very detailed in his work and was always eager to learn more. You couldn’t ask more from an intern.”
When Bradley’s family notified Crimm of Bradley’s death, he initiated fund raising for a one-time scholarship in memory of Bradley.
“Our hearts were so touched by his act of thoughtfulness in honoring the memory of our son that we decided to pass along the opportunity to friends and family to contribute as well.”
After those contributions were made, the Shaffers added the additional funds required to permanently endow this scholarship. They also provided funding to allow the first scholarship to be given for the 2020-21 year.
“Because Bradley was unable to live out his passion for workplace safety, it was important to our family for Bradley’s vision to be extended to a student who also had the same desire,” Ellen said. “By establishing this scholarship, we hope to continue Bradley’s legacy of reaching out to care for others. Even though we lost our beautiful son, there can still be something positive to come from this. Hope for the future is given by sharing his legacy and his story.”
The Shaffers said they also want to thank those who contributed to Bradley’s scholarship fund.
“I extend to each of you a sincere ‘thank you’. Whether you gave $5 or $1,000, he would be so proud to know you thought enough of him to give to this fund to help his memory live on,” Ellen said.
“We are so appreciative of this gift to support occupational safety students,” said Julie R. Cryser, Fairmont State Foundation president. “Out of tragedy, the Shaffers and other donors have created a legacy for Bradley that will assist future students for years to come.”
Fairmont State offers both a two- and four-year degree in occupational safety.
The endowment was created through the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of the Fairmont State University.
Fairmont State University’s Creative Sustainability Council (CSC), a campus organization focused on sustainability initiatives for the University and community, has been awarded a grant of $27,120 from the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation (ASF) to implement two sustainability initiatives on campus this summer. These initiatives have been designed in partnership with Aladdin Food Service and the Fairmont State Foundation.
The CSC, a group of students, faculty, and staff whose goal is to enrich and extend sustainability practices on campus, is guided by Dr. Erica Harvey, Abelina Suarez Professor of Chemistry at Fairmont State University. Harvey is using her Suarez professorship to support student-centered sustainability initiatives that are fun and community-building, in addition to being practical and impactful.
The first initiative, a glass recycling program, will introduce a glass crusher to campus. This equipment converts glass waste like pasta sauce jars and soda bottles into sand that can be used for a variety of applications. Glass waste generated on campus by employees and students will be converted to sand for use in campus landscaping projects, offsetting the expense of buying sand each year. Community members will be able to use the crusher to recycle their own glass waste into sand, which they can take home and use for personal projects.
“Facilities trade workers will spruce up the new glass crusher location on the first floor of the parking garage. This location should lend itself to a drop/pick-up and go operation,” Stephanie DeGroot, construction project manager, said. “The identified compost location was agreed to by all parties involved and will be located at the top of the stairs leading from Prichard Hall to Pence Hall. It was a great central location with easy access for all contributing groups.”
The second initiative will introduce a composting program on campus. With over 3,800 students, Fairmont State University’s dining hall generates around 100 pounds of total food waste per day. To reduce the amount of waste being hauled to landfills in half, two commercially available, in-vessel systems will be installed behind the Falcon Student Center. The combination of food waste and carbon source materials (yard and grounds waste) in the vessels are anticipated to generate 18 tons of compost and greenhouse gas reductions of approximately 7.5 metric tons per year. The University’s facilities department, the CSC and Aladdin Food Service will collaborate to design, test and refine the composting system. The final product will supplement the landscaping needs on campus and provide a template for future composting initiatives on campus.
“This is sustainability for our customers and clients. It helps us educate them about waste. It’s all about waste control, we’ll set up a weigh station when we first set up the compost and show them actually how much they are wasting in a day,” Jeff Swaim, Aladdin Food Services Director, said. “We want to be a part of sustainability and that’s why we want to do this, also to decrease the waste and chemical input in our landfills.”
Both projects are underway, with construction and installation scheduled for this summer. As students return to campus in the fall, these programs will be operational, with opportunities for student engagement for data collection and analysis.
After implementation and analysis in the coming year, the CSC will host an environmental science and sustainability workshop for public school teachers and community leaders in the summer of 2021. The CSC will share the details of environmental and fiscal impact these programs have and encourage the investigation and adoption of these practices.
Harvey and the CSC believe the proposed collection of creative sustainability initiatives will provide an opportunity to have approachable, ongoing campus and community conversations about collective energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They look forward to identifying both economic and environmental benefits of these changes and sharing what is learned.
“Our CSC members are honored and excited to receive this support from ASF,” said Harvey. “Three student members will undertake composting research this fall. Students will be calculating greenhouse gas emission reductions from the project, and we are all looking forward to crushing our glass! The ASF grant projects will elevate the sustainability work at Fairmont State, nicely complementing our existing solar panel array and newly donated electric vehicle chargers from an anonymous donor. Thanks to ASF, we have also initiated collaborations with the sustainability department at Marshall University, and hope to build a statewide sustainability network.”
The Appalachian Stewardship Foundation was created as a result of a settlement with Longview Power that set up a mitigation fund to correct the damage to the environment caused by the mining and burning of coal. To date, ASF has awarded more than 1.3 million dollars in funds to promote their mission.
This grant was made through the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of the Fairmont State University.
Spies like us: Fairmont State University's National Intelligence Program
Four intelligence analysts are hunched over a computer screen. On the wall behind them are various maps of the world and three clocks that show the hour in different times zones. They have tracked everything from the Russian military’s involvement in the Ukraine to vulnerabilities with NASA’s Hubble Telescope.
But on this particular Tuesday afternoon, with the lights off and computer screens bright, they are diving into the nefarious underworld of email scams. The project’s codename is Operation Trident.
The lab is known as OSIX, short for Open Source Intelligence Exchange, and it’s run by the cream of the crop from the school’s National Security and Intelligence (NSI) program. Out of the department’s approximately 200 students, only 16 are currently working in the lab. “We take our best and brightest and put them in that environment,” explains Professor David Abruzzino.
Students in the OSIX lab sift through court records, public databases and, now more than ever, social media posts. When the devastating floods ravaged West Virginia towns in the summer of 2016, a group of FSU students were monitoring Facebook and Twitter for people in need. “OSIX was instrumental in identifying somebody who had a need for police assistance and then notifying the state authorities,” says Professor Todd Clark, who mentors the students in the lab. “Social media monitoring really paid off. It’s a key to a lot of what we do.” The advantage these students have, he says, is that they grew up with these technologies. “They have a sixth sense of where to look on social media. They have a fresh perspective.”
Nick Oliveto, a 29-year-old native of Fairmont, was one of the first students to partake in the OSIX lab before graduating FSU in 2012. After school, he got a job with Lockheed Martin before moving on to law school. He’s now working as a counter-terrorism analyst in the Maryland suburbs. “The program gave me the professional foundation needed to pursue my career,” he says. “I use what I learned at Fairmont every day.”
Oliveto credits his success to teachers like Abruzzino who, before arriving at FSU a decade ago, was in the CIA where his area of expertise was the heroin trade in Afghanistan. “In many cases when we’re talking about concepts that are expressed in their textbooks, I can bring up a real-world experience I had where I faced that situation and can explain to them how it played out in a real-world scenario,” Abruzzino says.
Students have come from across the country – as far away as Oregon – to enroll in Fairmont’s NSI department. The school’s proximity to the national security community in D.C. makes having guest speakers easy. And the FBI office in Clarksburg comes to campus to recruit students for internships.
Alumni have landed gigs at dozens of national agencies – including the CIA, FBI and NASA. Many have opted to stay in the region and work for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and the West Virginia Army National Guard. An NSI master’s program is in the works for those students who want to further their education even more.
Back in the lab, the team of students are prepping a presentation they will be giving at the state capitol in Charleston. There, they will meet state delegates and senators and show them the latest project they are working on. It may not be the CIA, but it’s a step in the right direction. As a sign on the wall declares: “You don’t have to start out as an expert. You just have to start.”