Doddridge County natives and Fairmont State alumni, Dwight and Tina Moore, have donated $26,000 for the establishment of a new scholarship at Fairmont State University.
“It is through the generosity of the Moore family that future students will be able to attend Fairmont State. They truly understand the importance of education in becoming productive citizens,” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett.
The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will provide financial support for students studying in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The Moores are first generation college graduates, and both completed their studies at Fairmont State to prepare them for STEM related careers.
“Mr. and Mrs. Moore attribute their success to the education they received at Fairmont State and understand that scholarships are vital to student success,” according to Fairmont State Foundation Development Officer, Tori Anselene. “Establishing the Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will provide opportunities for STEM students to further develop their academic careers and make a great impact in their lives. We are so appreciative of the Moores for their support and generosity.”
Dwight, class of 1986, and Tina, class of 1987, have a keen understanding of the value of a college education, the importance of STEM professionals in the workforce and the demand for new grads in these fields.
“Fairmont State served us very well,” Dwight said. “My wife taught several scientific disciplines at the high school level for both Doddridge and Harrison County schools, including biology and chemistry. I taught drafting and industrial arts before serving as the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Doddridge County. We’ve both had fulfilling careers and we raised four successful children as well.”
Dwight credits the success that he and Tina have had to their choices to pursue higher education.
“Our lives have been so much fuller because we decided to attend Fairmont State. We understand the need for higher education and how this pursuit can change lives. By establishing this scholarship, we hope to share this with other students in STEM,” he added.
The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will be available to Fairmont State University students with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, studying science, technology, engineering or math.
“There is great demand for STEM professionals in this region and across the nation,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Luckily, our region also has an abundance of potential STEM talent. The Moore Family Endowed Scholarship will help Fairmont State nurture and train that potential, provide unrivaled opportunity and support to those students, and graduate STEM professionals into the talent pipeline, keeping some of that homegrown talent right here in this great region. I’m so grateful to the Moores for their vision and their generosity.”
A Fairmont family has pledged $25,000 for the creation of a new scholarship at Fairmont State University in memory of Stephen Guentert, a Fairmont State alumnus who passed away in February of 2021. The Stephen L. Guentert Memorial Endowed Scholarship will provide financial support for computer science and cybersecurity students in the College of Science and Technology.
“What a wonderful gesture by the Guentert family to create this legacy in honor of Stephen,” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett. “This scholarship will provide the support so many of the students dearly need.”
Stephen Guentert, a husband and father of three, graduated from Fairmont State in 2001. He completed his degree in computer science, and went on to work as a software engineer. His wife Beverly and their children Isabella, Miranda and her husband Canon Fancher, and Isaak wish to continue his legacy and love for family with the Stephen L. Guentert Memorial Endowed Scholarship.
“He was an amazing father and husband who was always there for us no matter what,” said his daughter, Miranda Fancher. “In our household there was always an emphasis on how important our education is and how to build a future for our families.”
The Fairmont State Computer Science and Cybersecurity Programs are designed to provide students a broad range of theoretical foundations and hands-on learning opportunities in the field. These programs prepare graduates for a variety of careers including programming, systems analysis, software development, database administration and information security analysis.
“We chose to support computer science students at Fairmont State University because Stephen went to Fairmont State with the same goals in 1996. Going to college and providing for his family were a huge part of his life, so we wanted to contribute to another individual at the University with the same goals in his memory. We know he would be so proud to be able to help students at Fairmont State,” Fancher added.
The Stephen L. Guentert Memorial Endowed Scholarship will be available to Fairmont State University students with a minimum 3.0 grade point average, enrolled in a computer science or cybersecurity program.
“We are so grateful to Stephen’s family for this generous gift to the Falcon Family,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “This gift ensures that our excellent science and technology programs can not only ease the financial burden for deserving students, but they can also continue to meet the regional demand for top-notch computer science and cybersecurity professionals.”
Sidney and Judith Underwood of Parkersburg, West Virginia have pledged $27,000 to create a scholarship in memory of their son Eric, who passed away in July of 2020.
“The generous gift from the Underwoods is greatly appreciated. Their kind remembrance of their son will have a lasting benefit to Fairmont State students,” said Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett.
The Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship will provide support to full-time students in the College of Science and Technology at Fairmont State University.
“We choose to honor Eric with this scholarship because he would want future generations to continue to pursue advanced education in this field of study,” said the Underwoods. “As a young man, he collected model planes, ships and enjoyed watching trains. He loved drawing and it was natural that he studied drafting and engineering in college. Eric was fascinated with how machines, such as trains, worked. He studied them and could explain how the mechanics of their engines and brakes worked. As an avid rail fan and member of the B&O Historical Association, he also enjoyed riding all the scenic rail works of West Virginia. He loved music and learned to play guitar as an adult. He also enjoyed nature; hiking, riding bikes and taking photos. During his time at Fairmont State, Eric held great respect for his instructors and the educational standards at the University.”
Eric received an Engineering Technology degree from West Virginia University at Parkersburg before going on to complete a bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 2018. He also earned a master’s degree in Technology Education from WVU. Eric was skilled in the areas of educational leadership and curriculum development.
“We are touched beyond words by the Underwood’s generosity,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Eric’s love for science and technology will not only live on through this gift, but it will also help us to continue to fill the need for qualified engineering professionals throughout this region and beyond. The Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship will honor Eric’s passion for science and technology, and it will ignite and nurture that same passion in future Falcons.”
The Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship will be available to Fairmont State University students enrolled full-time in the College of Science and Technology. Applicants must be West Virginia residents with a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
“With the establishment of the Eric W. Underwood Endowed Scholarship, Eric’s legacy will continue forever here at Fairmont State University,” said Fairmont State Foundation Development Officer, Tori Anselene. “Students pursuing a degree within the College of Science and Technology will greatly be impacted because of Judith and Sidney’s generosity.
Fairmont State University’s Academy for the Arts has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the George W. Bowers Family Charitable Trust. The grant will allow the Academy for the Arts to provide scholarship opportunities to new and current Academy for the Arts K-12 students. Students currently attending Blackshere Elementary, Monongah Elementary and Middle School, Fairview Elementary and Middle School, Barrackville Elementary and Middle School, Mannington Middle School and North Marion High School will be eligible to apply for a needs-based scholarship.
“Fairmont State University’s Academy for the Arts provides a unique and vital arts training environment for the surrounding area,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “We couldn’t do what we do at Fairmont State without the terrific support of our community. This grant from the George W. Bowers Family Charitable Trust enables us to uphold our commitment to our community, and add to its cultural richness.”
Fairmont State University Academy for the Arts is dedicated to providing students with quality training and exposure to the arts. Instruction in visual art, music and theatre enables students to appreciate, perform and create. The academy utilizes Fairmont State facilities and highly qualified instructors drawn from Fairmont State faculty and area teachers. The Academy follows the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts standards as a base for its curriculum. This program is integral to Fairmont State University’s long-standing identification with its community, in particular the cultural and social development of the region.
The Academy for the Arts consists of three departments, music preparatory, theatre, preparatory and visual arts preparatory. The Music Preparatory Department provides the highest level of instruction in music to students of all ages and abilities. This includes opportunities to perform in a safe, positive atmosphere to encourage the creative and artistic growth of members. The program’s primary objective is to stimulate growth and inspire the creativity of the individual student and to identify and address the musical needs of the community at large.
The Theatre Arts Preparatory Department provides quality instruction in the theatre arts based on a sequential, age-appropriate curriculum taught by qualified instructors. In cooperation with the Academy for the Arts Youth Theatre Company, the Theatre Arts Preparatory Department also provides students opportunities to apply their learning in an environment that fosters teamwork, creative thinking and professionalism.
The Visual Arts Preparatory Department provides all ages with a range of visual art media and experiences. Classes include quality age-appropriate instruction taught by qualified instructors. Children are encouraged to explore creative problem solving, while adults enjoy revisiting artistic interests or learning a new skill through hands-on activities in a group atmosphere.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer exciting new scholarship opportunities to North Marion area students. Thanks to funds from the grant provided by George W. Bowers Family Charitable Trust, we will be able to offer full and partial tuition scholarships to deserving North Marion area students throughout the 2021-2022 school year,” said Director of Performing Arts Outreach and Development, Leigh Anne Bolyard. “For many years we have seen the incredibly talented young artists that come from the North Marion attendance area. This is a great opportunity for new families to join our program, and current students to further their arts education and training. Whether they are a beginner or an experienced performer or artist, our phenomenal staff of instructors will help students hone their craft.”
Students of all skill levels will be eligible to apply for a scholarship. No prior experience or training is required. The Academy for the Arts offers private lessons and classes in Music, Visual Art, Dance and Theatre for ages 5 to adult.
For further information or to obtain a scholarship application, contact email@example.com.
The Fairmont State Foundation serves as the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of Fairmont State University, and recently welcomed five new members to its Board of Directors. New Board of Directors members include Kathy Martin, K. Alex Miller, II, Chad Riley, John Wilson and Dixie Yann.
“It is my pleasure to welcome this group of new Board members,” said Gary K. Bennett, Fairmont State Foundation President. “Collectively they bring a tremendous amount of talent and expertise to the board.”
Kathy Martin is a 1995 graduate of Fairmont State with a Board of Regents degree. Martin is the owner-broker of KLM Properties, Inc. headquartered in Morgantown. She began her career as an appraiser, then became a licensed sales associate in 1985, and finally a broker in 1989.
Growing up the daughter of a coal miner in Oceana, WV where homes were modest with limited diversity or style, she envisioned herself in a different kind of home when she grew up. That experience led her to a career in real estate. When she is not making her clients dreams of home ownership a reality, she enjoys getting away on her Harley-Davidson motorcycle with her husband, fellow Fairmont State graduate Pat Martin (’75), and spending time with their children and grandchildren.
K. Alex Miller, II is a 2001 graduate of Fairmont State with a bachelor’s in business administration. He is a founding partner of Miller Law Offices in Fairmont, where he practices law with his father, Kenneth R. Miller (’65). As a student at Fairmont State, Miller was named four times to the President’s List and received multiple awards as a student athlete. He graduated from West Virginia University School of Law in 2004 and began his career at the Gary Morris Law Office in Weston.
Miller concentrated his efforts in the area of oil and gas law, gaining extensive experience in the field. In addition to his work in the oil and gas industry, he later joined the law firm of Higginbotham & Higginbotham in Fairmont working to litigate personal injury cases.
Chad Riley is a 1995 graduate of Fairmont State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering technology. A 2008 Fairmont State Outstanding Young Alumnus, Riley serves on the University’s technology advisory committee and has been a part of many of the building projects that have taken place on campus in recent years.
Riley has served as CEO of the Thrasher Group since 2016 and manages overall operations of the company providing leadership and strategic oversight for each of the 10 office locations. With a passion for economic growth, he has been actively involved in more than 20 economic development projects through the state including industrial parks and strategically designed sites for manufacturing and commercial clients.
John Wilson graduated from Fairmont State with a bachelor’s in accounting in 1988. Wilson is a certified public accountant with Schmidt & Wilson, LLC in Pittsburgh, PA. Wilson is also a co-owner and co-founder of Cox Well Service, LLC in Spencer.
After completing his four-year degree and graduating Summa Cum Laude from Fairmont State, he completed his master’s in accounting at WVU and later the master’s of tax program at Robert Morris University. Wilson worked for Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells, a Big Eight accounting firm in Pittsburgh and later joined the corporate tax department of PNC Bank where he spent 13 years before starting his own practice.
Dixie Yann recently completed her term on the Fairmont State University Board of Governors, serving since 2012. Yann is active in the community with several organizations including the Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation, United Way and Marion County Meals on Wheels, which she co-founded. In addition to helping meet the needs of her community, she and her husband Frank enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.
“We are thrilled to welcome this exceptional group of leaders to our Foundation Board of Directors,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Each of them are experts in their industries, and bring a unique, meaningful perspective to the Board. I am certain that each of these leaders will continue to represent our Falcon Family well.”
In addition, new officers were elected to the Foundation Board of Directors. Nick Oxley (‘01), a Wealth Advisor for Buckingham Strategic Wealth, will serve as Chair. Oxley received a bachelor’s in finance from Fairmont State and has an MBA from West Virginia University. He resides in Charleston where he is active with several non-profits. Kim Pellillo, an Associate Agent with Dick Moore Insurance Agency, will serve as Vice-Chair. Kevin Wilfong (’77), President and Owner of Middletown Properties and Wilfong Enterprises, will serve as Secretary. Roger Stewart, President and CEO of Soles Electric Company, was re-elected to serve as Treasurer.
The Fairmont State Black Student Union Alumni Association has created a new scholarship in support of the student organization they serve.
The Fairmont State University Black Student Union Alumni Association Endowed Scholarship will be available to active, working members of Fairmont State University’s Black Student Union. Qualifying students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors will demonstrate academic success, along with campus and community engagement in order to be eligible. Black Student Union Legacy members are also eligible for this scholarship.
“The Fairmont State Foundation is beyond grateful that the Black Student Union Alumni Association has come together to establish an endowment that will continue their mission in creating equal access to opportunities for students while enhancing student’s success,” said Fairmont State Foundation Development Officer, Tori Anselene. “I am excited for them to leave an everlasting legacy here at Fairmont State University for years to come.”
Fairmont State’s Black Student Union was established to foster open dialogue among students of color, the Student Government Association and school administration with the goal of creating equal access to opportunities. Additionally, the organization strives for fair educational, cultural and social acceptance at Fairmont State University.
“The creation of this endowment will support students who are working toward a future of diversity, equity and inclusion in education.” stated Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary K. Bennett.
From its inception in 1969, the Black Student Union has been active on campus and within the community. Black Student Union activities include leading the BSU Gospel Choir, holding events for Homecoming and offering special programs at local churches in celebration of Black History Month each year. The organization currently hosts programming to address and encourage African American and multicultural education.
“I feel that my college experience up until now would not have been the same without a group like BSU, so I am truly thankful for those that came before me,” said Fairmont State Black Student Union President, Peyton Barnes. “I am so very grateful for the Black Student Union Alumni Association for their kindness and generosity for a cause such as this one, and I hope it is able to impact students and their collegiate experience for many years to come.”
When asked why the Black Student Union Alumni Association chose to establish this scholarship, Jacqueline Dooley, President and Chair of the organization, explained, “The Black Student Union alumni want to offer a helping hand, reaching back to deserving youth to lift them up and aid in their academic success with this financial support.”
“The Black Student Union, through its members and activities, adds so much to the fabric of our Falcon Family,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “They deepen and expand our culture and strengthen the quality of our campus life. I’m so grateful to the Black Student Union Alumni Association, because through this endowed scholarship, they’re helping future generations of Falcons pursue their dreams as those students continue the work of the Black Student Union and enrich the lives of everyone at Fairmont State.”
The Fairmont State Black Student Union Alumni Association serves as a catalyst to reunite former students for social, cultural, educational and community experiences. The organization serves as mentors to current Black Student Union members at Fairmont State University in various academic disciplines to assist in career development opportunities.
The Fairmont State Foundation is honored to welcome Gary K. Bennett’s return as president of the Fairmont State Foundation, the nonprofit fundraising organization utilized by Fairmont State University. He brings with him decades of experience as a CPA and an outstanding educator, along with a passion for the Foundation’s mission to serve the University and the greater Fairmont community.
“We are so very fortunate to have such an exceptional, caring and experienced gentleman leading the Foundation,” said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “Gary has masterfully led our Foundation before; we look forward to welcoming him home – once again. The Foundation and the entire Falcon Family will benefit from Gary’s experience and expertise, as well as his deep fondness and devotion to Fairmont State.”
In addition to serving as a board member for the Foundation, Bennett is an alumnus from the Fairmont State College class of 1972, a retired faculty member, and assistant dean of what is now named the School of Business and Aviation.
“We are excited and incredibly grateful that Mr. Bennett will lead the Foundation as President,” said board president Jennifer Kinty. “His leadership experience coupled with his understanding of the Foundation’s goals will allow us to preserve our fundraising momentum and move our institution forward."
Bennett previously served as president of the Foundation in 2018 and 2019. His passion for Fairmont State and positive relationships with University stakeholders will allow the Foundation and the University to continue their collaborative efforts to support Fairmont State students and programs without interruption.
Fairmont State University President Dr. Mirta M. Martin is looking forward to working with Bennett again.
“Gary is a Falcon through and through – that’s one of the things that makes working together such a joy. He is always driven to find ways to help the Fairmont State University family. He carries in his heart the “why” of what we do – to help the next generation of Falcons achieve their dreams – and that is exactly what he has been doing for decades, as an alumnus, a faculty, and a generous donor. The University is so very grateful for Gary, and excited at the boundless opportunities that can be achieved as he steps into the Foundation leadership role once again.”
The Fairmont State University Class of 2021 is continuing a senior class tradition by encouraging peers, alumni and community members to contribute to the “Walk with a Falcon” Campaign. The campaign was established by members of the Fairmont State Student Government Association to assist in initiating a Falcon Park and Trail for both campus and community use.
“The Class of 2021 will leave a quite a legacy,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “The Falcon Park and Trail will not only promote a healthier community, and provide access to nature’s beauty just steps from our campus. Because the trail will connect to a community trail, this effort also, literally, unites our campus with the community.”
The Class of 2021 hopes to leave a lasting impact on campus by establishing a green space to provide opportunities for students to improve creativity, problem solving and academic performance through nature-based learning.
“Along with the students, we also want the community and alumni to be able to come back and enjoy the outdoor space as well,” said Rebecca Luketic, Fairmont State senior and Student Government Association Vice President. “I hope the campaign initiative is a project that evolves into a gift that keeps on giving. There are so many amazing education and volunteerism opportunities with the addition of the Falcon Park and Trail. I can't wait to come back after I graduate and still see the mark I left as a senior on this campus.”
The Fairmont State Student Government Association is leading the campaign in partnership with the Fairmont State Foundation, Fairmont State Outdoor Recreation Program and the Fairmont State Community Design Assistance Center Architecture Program.
“This year’s Senior Campaign is an exciting venture that will benefit not only the campus community, but the greater Fairmont community,” said Julie R. Cryser, Fairmont State Foundation President. “It is great to see our students paying it forward for the next group of students and the local community in a way that will impact their physical and mental health.”
Diversified Gas & Oil Co., the Birmingham, AL, company whose chief executive officer and co-founder is Fairmont State University graduate and Board of Governors member Rusty Hutson Jr., has committed an additional $50,000 in scholarships over five years to Fairmont State students.
“Diversified Gas & Oil strongly believes in supporting students who attend colleges in our operating areas and that are seeking to start careers in the gas and oil or related industries,” said Brad Gray, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “We believe that the energy sector in the United States is strong and that it is a driver of economic prosperity for millions of people in the country. Our industry is a major factor in maintaining low energy costs for our country. At Diversified, we are very committed to our business operations in the Appalachian Basin.”
Diversified donated $30,000 in scholarships starting in 2019 for rising seniors earning a degree in a natural gas- and oil-focused major with an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. Each student selected receives a $2,500 scholarship for their senior year. The additional contribution will extend the scholarship program for five more years through 2026.
“The investment that Diversified is making in our students is tremendous,” said Julie R. Cryser, Fairmont State Foundation President. “We can’t thank Diversified and Mr. Hutson enough for their continued support of our Falcon Family.”
Gray said that for the gas and oil industry to continue to be productive, innovative and successful, it needs a consistent talent pool of qualified, local, educated young people. Gray stated that the industry not only needs traditional engineers but also needs talented technology, finance, safety and environmental employees to manage the complexity of operations.
“We can think of no better place from which to source this talent -- young people from our back yards, our high schools, our universities,” he said.
Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin noted that students will benefit greatly from these scholarships.
“For most of our students, paying for college is one of the most significant investments they and their families will ever undertake,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “But they know that they are really investing in themselves. It’s a sound investment, because Fairmont State graduates have a reputation for being highly skilled, hard-working and optimistic. And now with their generous scholarships, Diversified Gas & Oil and Rusty Hutson are also investing in our students, easing our students’ financial burdens, and allowing them to concentrate on academic success and graduation.”
DGOC views these scholarships as an investment in the communities in which they operate and investment in the lives and the futures of students preparing for a career in the industry.
Diversified is an operator of gas and oil producing assets. Its innovative, disciplined investment strategy is focused on the acquisition of mature, low-decline and low-risk wells, enhancement of operations with a focus on efficiency, and maximization of profitability for shareholders. Founded in 2001, Diversified has deep roots in the mineral-rich Appalachian United States.
Dominion Energy has awarded Fairmont State University a grant of $25,000 for the ongoing restoration and preservation of Hickman Run Stream in Marion County, WV.
This grant was provided through the Environmental Education and Stewardship Grant program offered by Dominion Energy and funds will be used to establish a monitoring station with equipment that measures water and environmental conditions at Hickman Run Stream. This station will allow Fairmont State University faculty and students to remotely collect data that helps them assess the current conditions of the stream and the overall impact of the project’s rehabilitation efforts.
“We are happy to award this $25,000 Environmental Stewardship grant to the Hickman Run project,” said Christine Mitchell, chair of the WV Community Investment Board for Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation. “Rehabilitating an impaired stream is a great example of working together with our communities toward a more sustainable future.”
When permanently installed, the new water monitoring equipment will provide continuous monitoring of the stream’s water quality and provide additional data on rainfall, air temperature, wind speed and other important information that improves analysis of stream health. This continuous monitoring method will help researchers to establish a baseline for stream conditions and leave them better equipped to identify deliberate pollution events.
“The advancement of this project would not be possible without Dominion Energy. This grant allows us the capabilities to expand our research from one stream to two local streams. In the past students with Dr. Mark Flood were conducting site visits to manually collect samples, but now they'll have access to many more data points so the stream can be analyzed at many different phases, including before, during and after a storm,” said Fairmont State University’s MS4 Coordinator, Stephanie DeGroot.
Hickman Run Stream, which feeds the Monongahela River, serves as a drainage basin for roughly 1,700 acres of land in Marion County. The waterway has been affected by both household and commercial activities, and as a result, has suffered from pollution and a decline in critical biological diversity.
The Hickman Run Stream Rehabilitation Project, established in 2018 in partnership with the City of Fairmont, hopes to reverse environmental damage to the stream and foster the return of natural plant and animal life that is essential for the health of this waterway. With help from the Dominion Energy grant, the stream will be used in several courses at Fairmont State University for experiential – or hands-on – learning activities in the study of biology, toxicology and ecology.
“One feature of our transformative education model is the use of impactful, hands-on learning,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “And I can’t think of any example more impactful than our involvement with the Hickman Run Stream Rehabilitation Project. Through this generous grant from Dominion Energy, we’ll continue to give our students a unique experiential learning opportunity while doing our best to keep our region ‘almost heaven.’”
In addition to improving Hickman Run Stream and providing educational enrichment for students at Fairmont State University, the project will encourage environmental stewardship through education in Marion County. Students of all ages will be able to learn the value of protecting waterways through summer programs at Hickman Run Stream. Researchers at Fairmont State University also plan to develop a model for future projects of this kind.
About Dominion Energy: More than 7 million customers in 16 states energize their homes and businesses with electricity or natural gas from Dominion Energy (NYSE: D), headquartered in Richmond, Va. The company is committed to sustainable, reliable, affordable and safe energy and to achieving net zero carbon dioxide and methane emissions from its power generation and gas infrastructure operations by 2050. Please visit DominionEnergy.com to learn more.
The grant was provided through the Fairmont State Foundation Inc., the non-profit organization that solicits and administers private donations on behalf of Fairmont State University.
West Virginia Folklife Center receives grant for K-12 education initiative exploring folklore and cultural heritage
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center has received a grant of $7,500 from the Daywood Foundation in support of Ruth Ann Musick’s Trunk of Tales, a Fairmont State University project to promote folklore and West Virginia cultural heritage studies in K-12 public schools in the state.
Funds will be used to assemble four teacher resource trunks that include copies of Ruth Ann Musick’s book, The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Stories. Each trunk will also include materials and lesson plans for educators, and digital recorders that students can use to collect stories of folklore and heritage from their own families.
“Among the reasons to give students the opportunity to record and preserve family history is that listening is a gift, a gift to the speaker and a gift to the listener. Often that gift comes in the form of sharing stories filled with nuggets of wisdom, family traditions and cultural values such as perseverance and resiliency. Plus, interviewing family members requires patience, a skill we seldom have the opportunity to practice.” said Dr. Francene Kirk, Interim Director of the Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center.
Three of the trunks will be donated to school systems in West Virginia’s Barbour, Greenbrier and Kanawha counties as a pilot program. The fourth trunk will remain with the Folklife Center on the campus of Fairmont State University, available on loan to local schools and organizations in Marion County. Teachers will provide feedback during this pilot phase so that the project can be examined and improved before rolling out the project to other counties in West Virginia.
The Folklife Center plans to offer three collaborative professional development workshops for educators participating in the pilot program to help them and their students make the most of their experience with the trunks, while gaining input from educators for future program refinement and expansion.
“Our mission is to educate students, and that mission doesn’t stop at the edge of campus,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “This outreach initiative is such a marvelous opportunity for us to engage with and support educators and students in the West Virginia K-12 system. The Ruth Ann Musick’s Trunk of Tales project gets to the heart of two of the things that makes Fairmont State great– our belief in the importance of family, and the strength of our bond to our region. By helping students tell the stories of their families and their communities, students will not only build up their creative thinking skills, but they will also deepen their ties to their families and communities.”
Ruth Ann Musick was a math and English professor at Fairmont State between 1946 and 1967 when it was known as Fairmont State College. She introduced the institution’s first folklore course in 1948. She and her students collected ghost stories from around the state of West Virginia. These stories were grouped and published in three different collections, including The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Stories. Dr. Musick also revived West Virginia’s dormant folklore society in 1950, and she served as the founding editor for West Virginia Folklore Journal from 1951 to 1967.
“When we think about West Virginia's history, our thoughts often go to major historical events and famous people, but Dr. Musick's collection tells the story of the common people, the folk. In her ghost stories we learn about the lives of coal miners, farmers and teachers. We hear about acts of courage and selflessness, but we also bear witness to acts of evil and revenge. We connect with those who went before us and build a sense of identity as West Virginians.” according to Kirk.
Donors interested in providing additional support for the Ruth Ann Musick’s Trunk of Talesproject can contact the Fairmont State Foundation by phone at 304.534.8786 or online at www.fsufoundation.org.
Clarksburg native and president and co-founder of a private investment firm and his wife, an attorney, have developed a scholarship to support students from Harrison and Marion counties.
Bill and Mala Harker have established the Bill & Mala Harker Endowed Scholarship, which will provide scholarships to a Fairmont State University student with first preference to African American students and second preference to students of color from Harrison County and Marion County with at least a 2.5 grade point average.
“Having grown up in the Clarksburg area, I am keenly aware of how much Fairmont State and its graduates have given to the community,” Bill Harker said. “We have a number of friends who are Fairmont State alumni. We see this scholarship as an opportunity to give back to an institution that has indirectly enriched our lives.”
Bill Harker said the couple felt that their investment in West Virginia students might go farther in this state, as opposed to higher cost areas, and would potentially help people who are sometimes overlooked by other philanthropic activities.
“It is evident that even those who are not alumni of Fairmont State University understand its importance to the local community,” said Julie R. Cryser, president of the Fairmont State Foundation. “We can’t thank the Harker family enough for their support of our students, especially our students of color.”
Mala Harker’s father is a retired math professor who spent most of his career teaching at Southeast Missouri State University, a state school similar in many ways to Fairmont State. Her family was very active in the university community when she was growing up.
“Our family endowed a scholarship at SEMO a few years ago and we have seen the impact that such an investment can make on the lives of deserving young men and women,” Mala Harker said.
“We believe in funding scholarships because we believe that education is the great equalizer,” Bill Harker said. “Much of the professional success we each have achieved is directly related to the wonderful educations we received.”
William “Bill” R. Harker is president and co-founder of Ashe Capital Management, LP, a private investment firm. He is a graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Mala Ahuja Harker is a partner and member of the management committee at the New York City law firm of Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP. She is a graduate of Washington University in St Louis and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
They reside in New Jersey with their two children.
“This generous gift from Bill and Mala Harker affirms the potency of our mission,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “We make a profound, real-world difference in the region, and we transform the lives of our students. Bill and Mala recognized the impact we make, and they have a deep appreciation for a university like Fairmont State. Through the Bill & Mala Harker Endowed Scholarship, they are supporting our mission to provide affordable, transformative educations to hard-working students, and we are so thankful to have them part of our Falcon Family.”
Long-time pilot and entrepreneur Don Judy has established a scholarship for Fairmont State University students seeking their commercial pilots license, the first of its kind at Fairmont State.
Judy, a sawmill owner who has been flying since the 1960s, retired in March after 30 years as a designated pilot examiner.
“I have examined the students at Fairmont for 20 years and have seen many students go on to become airline and corporate pilots,” Judy said. “I have no immediate family, and I have always enjoyed helping young people to fly.”
The Don Judy Commercial Flight Scholarship will assist Fairmont State University students in the Professional Flight Program in the School of Business & Aviation’s Department of Aviation who are West Virginia residents seeking post instrument rating commercial flight training (commercial, multi-engine or CFI). Students must possess a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher to be considered.
“I love how wide the wings of our Falcon Family stretch,” said Mirta M. Martin, Fairmont State University President. “Our family is not only comprised of current students, staff, and alumni, but also our wider community and friends of the University all around the world. This includes dear friends like Don Judy, who believe in and support our mission to provide an affordable, transformative education. With his generous gift, Don is ensuring that more and more Fairmont State University students will be able to literally soar.”
The Professional Flight Option at Fairmont State University is one option of the three program options offered under the Aviation Center of Excellence. Students admitted to this selective program can gain a bachelor’s in Aviation Technology with an emphasis in business in aviation while simultaneously completing the flight hours and training required to obtain their private, instrument and commercial ratings.
The main objective of the Professional Flight Option at Fairmont State University is to educate aspiring pilots to be well rounded and complete aviation professionals. Our goal is to graduate not just a pilot but an exceptional aviator and student overall.
“This scholarship will assist West Virginia students, and Mr. Judy’s generosity will be felt for years to come,” said Fairmont State Foundation President Julie Cryser. “This is the first scholarship for the program and provides students with the ability to focus on the program and becoming exceptional pilots.”
Judy was born in Dry Fork, WV. He first experienced the wonder of aviation at the age of five in a Bonanza aircraft. His father maintained a grass strip on their farmland and his love for aviation thrived. After receiving his private pilot certificate in 1962, he continued receiving additional ratings through his hard work and dedication.
Judy’s ratings range from Single Engine Land and Sea to Multi Engine Land and Sea, Rotorcraft, as well as Glider. He is a certified flight instructor on all the previously mentioned aircraft classifications and holds an Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) certificate with Inspection Authority (IA) designation. Serving as a Designated Pilot Examiner Mr. Judy has issued nearly 2000 FAA certifications to aspiring pilots before retiring in March 2020.
In addition to assisting others pursue their dreams in aviation, Judy restores aircraft, having overseen 10 complete aircraft rebuilds. He is also talented in the art of recovering fabric aircraft; a form in which few are currently proficient.
Judy is the recipient of the 2010 Wilbur Wright Award, having been accident-free for 50 years; a testimonial to Judy’s superior skillset. In 2016, Judy received the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award for having been an airframe and powerplant mechanic for 50 years. He has also been inducted into the West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame.
“The Donald Judy WV Aviation Scholarship aspires to carry on and manifest Mr. Judy’s love for aviation well into future generations,” said Joel Kirk, who leads the Fairmont State Aviation Program. “The intent of this scholarship is to provide assistance and inspiration to an aspiring, exceptional and promising flight student from and within his home state of West Virginia. Additionally, the goal of this award is to aid an applicant who despite demonstrating extraordinary work ethic, might not otherwise be in a position to afford advanced training.”
In 2017, Mr. Judy was a key player in helping the Fairmont State University restructure into the Aviation Center of Excellence. That year the “ACE” obtained its permanent 14 CFR part 141 status becoming the first in the State of West Virginia. This could not have happened without Mr. Judy’s relentless effort to always be available to give FAA practical examinations in a timely manner.
“I have always said that what you give to others returns 10-fold to you,” Judy said.
Fairmont State University emeritus faculty member and advocate for international students Dr. Tulasi Joshi and his wife Marilyn have committed significant funds to the University to support recruitment of international students. Fairmont State University is recognizing their gift by naming its international student office the Tulasi and Marilyn Joshi Office for Educational Pathways for International Centers & Students.
“This gift from the Joshis will have a profound impact,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “Tulasi and Marilyn understand how energizing and mutually beneficial having a robust international student presence on campus can be. International students coming to Fairmont Sate will benefit from our close-knit Falcon Family and caring faculty, and our community profits from the global perspectives these students provide.”
Joshi said he hopes his gift will provide the chance for other international students like him to seek the dream of education and opportunity and provide the University with a broader global perspective.
“We live in the global environment,” Joshi said. “International students help us to be competitive in the global economy and help to enrich Fairmont State University, the community and our world understanding.”
“This is a remarkable gift that provides the University with funding to support the recruitment of students from across the world to study at Fairmont State,” said Julie Cryser, president of the Fairmont State Foundation. “These funds will ensure that Fairmont State remains a destination for those seeking an education from Fairmont to Kathmandu.”
Born in Tamakhani, Bajhang, a remote part of Nepal, Joshi completed his 10th grade education from Satyavadi High School of Bajhang.
“I grew up high on the mountain side where the house of my childhood still stands and still does not have a heating system or running water,” Joshi said. His family cooked over an open fire and under a thatched roof, and there was no indoor plumbing. “I played with rocks and sticks as toys.”
After his 10th grade school year, Joshi had to travel to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to take the 10th grade board examination called the SLC (School Leaving Certificate) examination. It took 15 days to reach Kathmandu, 11 days on foot and four days by train and bus.
Joshi remembers the difficulty he experienced as he struggled to receive an education. Students had to write on the back of used paper and often utilized wooden boards to learn the alphabet. He copied entire textbooks by hand because there weren’t enough books for all students, and he studied at night by burning pine kindling for light.
Despite the hardships, Joshi and four other classmates became the first group from the Bajrang district to take the 10th grade board examination and pass in 1957. Joshi stayed in Kathmandu to further his education but struggled. A friend from his village helped him by providing him a place to live, and he managed without any funds.
“I would go to college after having the morning meal and come home in the evening. I would get hungry in the afternoon, but I did not have any money to buy a handful of soybeans, and I would drink some water,” he said.
Eventually Joshi received a master's degree in geography from Tribhuvan University of Nepal in 1963, and for his academic excellence, the King of Nepal awarded him a gold medal with a grand ceremony attended by cabinet ministers, academicians, literary figures and other distinguished guests.
He came to the United States to the University of Hawaii in 1964 under the East West Center Scholarship Program. He went on to earn a master’s from there in 1966 and earned his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972.
It was in 1972 that a professor recommended him for a job at Fairmont State University and he visited the campus and liked it. He worked for over 42 years as a professor of geography at Fairmont State University and is a life member and former treasurer of the Association of Nepalis in the Americas (ANA).
He has been championing the education cause to empower deserving Nepali students thereby meeting the educational mission of ANA. He established scholarship programs for needy students of Bajhang for their higher education in Nepal, and for Nepali students for their undergraduate studies at Fairmont State University. He was instrumental in the establishment of the International Scholarship Program and the ANA-Tulasi & Marilyn Joshi Scholarhsip Program at Fairmont State. About 50 students have benefited from these scholarship programs.
He also received the Cyrus R. Vance Award for International Education in West Virginia in 2003 among several other awards and recognitions, including honor and recognition from the United States president, Nepal’s president and the Association of American Geographers for his dedicated contributions to the field of geography.
Joshi met his wife, Marilyn, in Morgantown and they have been married for over 45 years. Mrs. Joshi is originally from Core, located about 20 miles north of Fairmont. She received her master's and bachelor's degrees from West Virginia University. She also has a certificate to teach gifted students. She is a retired teacher after teaching more than 30 years in the West Virginia school system.
“She has been a source of inspiration for my passion and undertaking the educational endeavors,” Joshi said.
Fairmont State University School of Nursing receives funding from Milan Puskar Foundation to provide care to local homeless population
The Fairmont State University School of Nursing received a $40,000 grant from the Milan Puskar Foundation to support nursing students who will provide clinics and COVID-19 health and safety kits for the homeless population in Marion and Harrison Counties.
“One of the major directives that Milan Puskar wished to address through the Milan Puskar Foundation is the growing issue of homelessness in West Virginia,” said Kyle Pratt, the foundation’s President. “The grant to the Nursing Homeless Outreach Program will help provide basic healthcare needs to the homeless and education to nursing students and RNs on how to better understand the challenges that such individuals face in order to improve the healthcare they receive.”
Fairmont State nursing students will provide services to homeless individuals in both Marion and Harrison Counties. Pratt said the Milan Puskar Foundation board members hope that the grant to Fairmont State University will result in significant personal connection and interaction with homeless individuals that improves their lives by helping to meet some basic healthcare needs.
“We also hope that the educational sessions for the nursing students and RNs that treat the homeless and provide awareness on COVID, including mask use and care, handwashing, and an array of other imperative information, will be valuable training that results in other meaningful and life-changing impacts,” Pratt said.
Pratt said the goals that Fairmont State University presented were thorough, measurable, and the Milan Puskar Foundation believes that this grant will assist the University in improving the lives of homeless individuals in the North Central West Virginia region.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to provide our students with a comprehensive nursing education while assisting those in need within our local communities,” said Laura Clayton, Fairmont State School of Nursing Dean. “This project will allow us to further serve our mission to improve the health of West Virginia and the global community through a commitment to excellence and innovation in teaching, scholarship and service.”
The Milan Puskar Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in West Virginia. This grant not only provides funding for the basic healthcare needs of the homeless in the region but also extends first-hand learning experience to existing and future healthcare workers to further improve such care.
The Milan Puskar Foundation believes this grant encapsulates the legacy of a man who worked tirelessly throughout his life to enrich the lives of countless individuals, including the homeless.
“Experiential learning is the hallmark of a Fairmont State education,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “This generous gift will not only give our students real-world opportunities to apply classroom knowledge, but it also gives them the chance to do what Fairmont State does best: Change lives. With the help of this grant, the Nursing Homeless Outreach Program will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of so many in our community.”
This gift 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.
Established in 1960, the Fairmont State Foundation identifies, establishes and cultivates meaningful relationships with Fairmont State alumni and friends to further the mission and purpose of Fairmont State University. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization guided by a board of directors to steward contributions from our donors and maximize the impact of financial support for the students, faculty and staff of the University. For more information about our organization and ways that you can provide support, visit www.fsufoundation.org or call 304.534.8786.