Fellowships differ from scholarships as they provide long-term support, rather than one-time financial dispersals. Students in the Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship & Summer Bridge Program are bolstered throughout their college careers.
Once selected, fellows begin their program with a mandatory bridge program, a five-day stay at Fairmont State during the summer. This bridge program gives fellows an indispensable link from high school to college with the aim to reduce the anxiety that comes with the transition. It gives these students a positive jump-start to college life. A fellowship coordinator ensures that students receive ongoing support, which includes time to socialize with other fellows.
Throughout the five-day summer bridge, fellows live on campus, which helps them gain familiarity with the university’s layout. They have the opportunity to talk with advisors, meet other students and learn about academic studies—all in a relaxed setting.
Next year’s summer bridge program runs July 6-11, 2024.
“Bridge week happens over the summer, so the fellows get to know each other before classes start,” said Marissa Mauro, Fairmont State Foundation Director of Development for Annual Giving and Stewardship. “They develop new friendships and build a community of camaraderie.”
While bridge programs vary at different universities, Fairmont State’s main goal is to reduce the barriers that intimidate high school students from going to college.
In past generations, a post-secondary degree didn’t always matter. Young people attained fulfilling work and stayed with one company for their entire working lives. On the job training was common, and it gave promising employees opportunities for advancement.
Today’s job market is different. According to the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, income disparity between college graduates and high school graduates starts early. While still in their 20s, college graduates can expect to earn on average $20,000 more per year than high school graduates.
Those numbers add up. Over the course of a lifetime, college graduates earn $1 million more than those without a degree.
West Virginia’s goal is to have 60 percent of its adult population attain a college degree or other type of credentialed education by 2030. Right now, fewer than one-third of West Virginians have any of these credentials.
Fairmont State’s commitment to first generation students is evident in its numbers. Since 2012, nearly 40 percent of the university’s graduates have been first generation students. Forty-three percent of Fairmont State’s current freshmen are first generation students.
“As a first-generation West Virginia college student, I understand the challenges of being the first in your family to attend college,” Interim Vice President of Student Success Alicia Kalka said. “My family was highly supportive of me going to college and planted that seed into me at a very young age. We had to learn together the process of enrolling and all the resources that I needed to be successful. If I had attended a summer bridge program like this, I think my transition would have been easier. I am so proud of our Datha and Gene program because we are providing a true bridge for first generation students from West Virginia and access into post-secondary education.”
Although neither Gene nor Datha Smith pursued a post-secondary education, they saw its value. In 2005, the Smiths established a foundation to help first generation students. Since then, the Smiths have passed, but their children have carried on their parents’ legacy by founding this recent fellowship.
“Fairmont State is here to ensure that our first-generation students know there is a way, and we are here to help them reach their dream of going to college,” Kalka said. “As a university, we are mission driven to educate and prepare people for the workforce. When we achieve this, we’re contributing to West Virginia as a whole.”
It is through this fellowship that students are able to achieve their goals of a four-year degree. Because the fellowship covers many of the costs to attend Fairmont State, fellows are able to focus on academics rather than a future with inordinate student debt.
“I’ve watched the students gain confidence as they make the transition to college life,” said Erin Hohl, Coordinator of the Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship. “The fellows know they are showing their potential to do something life-changing for themselves after going through the fellowship.”
Fellows Accepted into the 2024 Summer Bridge Program will:
Requirements to Apply for the Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship:
You can apply for the The Datha and Gene Smith Fellowship online. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2024.
John wanted to do whatever he could to help others achieve advanced education so that they could help other less fortunate people. Being a frugal person, John, Jr. carefully managed his limited sources of income. Thus, a significant portion of this endowment consists of the money from his own savings account.
“I am thankful that we will be able to provide funds to teacher candidates pursuing special education,” said Julie Reneau Professor of Special Education and Executive Director of Autism Individualized Mentoring & Support Services. “There is a critical shortage of special educators in our region and skilled special educators are needed to help students with disabilities reach their long-term goals. I am so amazed and appreciative that the money for much of this endowment comes from John Jr.”
The John Anthony Carbone, Jr. Memorial Endowed Scholarship will provide funds to students demonstrating financial need to cover tuition, fees, books, room, and board. Students who are residents of West Virginia or children of West Virginia residents are eligible for this award with preference given to graduates from high schools in Marion, Monongalia, Harrison, and Taylor Counties. Recipients must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better and be entering their junior year of studies as a special education major.
On Friday, October 20, the Fairmont State Foundation and our guests celebrated the 2023 Scholarship & Stewardship Banquet. The evening was an opportunity to celebrate the incredible impact of our donors’ generosity and recognize many of this year’s deserving scholarship recipients. Additionally, the Foundation honored the 2023 inductees to both the 1865 Heritage Society and Column Society. Thank you to all who attended!
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.
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.
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.”
Fairmont State University’s Academy for the Arts receives $10,000 grant from Truist West Virginia Foundation
Fairmont State University’s Academy for the Arts has received a $10,000 grant from the Truist West Virginia Foundation to provide need-based scholarships to be applied to student tuition for camps, classes and private lessons throughout the summer and 2022 – 2023 academic year.
“We are incredibly grateful for this gift from the Truist West Virginia Foundation,” said Fairmont State University Director of Performing Arts Outreach and Development, Leigh Anne Riley. “Providing scholarship opportunities for students within our communities allows us to increase access to quality training and exposure to the arts. We understand that many in our area are experiencing financial hardships, and we aim to address such needs and support these families and individuals through the utilization of these grant funds.”
The Truist West Virginia Foundation grant will enable Fairmont State University’s Academy for the Arts to expand both access and awareness of the educational programing made available to Marion County residents and the surrounding region. In addition to providing need-based scholarships to students and families, the Academy for the Arts aims to increase access to programming through the introduction of supplemental virtual instruction options along with the establishment of a network of contacts among schools, libraries and other community stakeholders to distribute ongoing information about scholarship and programming opportunities to potential students.
“We’re pleased to support Fairmont State University’s Academy for the Arts,” said Jacqueline Keene, Executive Director for the Truist West Virginia Foundation. “Truist is committed to our purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities, and we believe the Truist West Virginia Foundation contribution to Fairmont State University will help make a difference in the lives of many.”
Both full or partial scholarship options are currently available for students from ages ranging toddler to adult. For more information, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/academyforthearts. To access a scholarship application, contact Lbolyard1@fairmontstate.edu or 304-333-3655.
About the Fairmont State University Academy for the Arts
The Fairmont State University Academy for the Arts was established in 2012. The Academy for the Arts is dedicated to providing students with quality training and exposure to the arts. Instruction in visual art, music, dance, 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 uses the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts standards as a base for its curriculum. The Academy for the Arts is integral to Fairmont State University’s long-standing identification with its community, in particular the cultural and social development of the region.
About Truist West Virginia Foundation
The Truist West Virginia Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation's (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Since 2000, the foundation and its predecessors have been making strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. The Truist West Virginia Foundation's grants and activities focus on economic development, education, arts, healthcare, social services and financial literacy.
Two sisters from Marion County, along with family and friends, have chosen to honor the life of their mother with a gift to Fairmont State University, totaling $26,000. The gift will establish the Estaline May Fleming Memorial Scholarship supporting students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance.
Fairmont native, Estaline May Fleming studied Family and Consumer Sciences at Fairmont State, earning her degree in 1976. Fleming was active in the Fairmont community, serving as a life-long member of the Rock Lake Club, remaining engaged with her sorority, participating in the Mountain Heritage Quilters Guild of Marion County and volunteering with Meals on Wheels.
“By honoring the life and legacy of Estaline May Fleming, her children, family and friends pay exceptional tribute to her support for higher education at Fairmont State University. Establishing a scholarship in her name ensures that her enthusiasm for her community will endure through the educational pursuits of deserving students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance.” said Gary K. Bennett, President of the Fairmont State Foundation.
Fleming’s daughters, Dr. Judie Charlton and Nan Murray, have chosen to honor her memory with this scholarship because of their family history with the University. Mrs. Fleming and her husband, William “Hoppy” Fleming, were avid supporters of Fairmont State, regularly attending games and events and enjoying the camaraderie of students, employees and fans of the Institution.
“Supporting Fairmont State is important because my family grew up in Fairmont and Fairmont State was always an intricate part of our foundation. My mother and father attended Fairmont State, and my sister and I started our college experience at Fairmont State," Murray said. "Fairmont State has always been a key part of our community."
The Estaline May Fleming Memorial Scholarship will be available to students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.
“We are so grateful for this gift from the family and friends of Estaline May Fleming,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “She had such a deep love for her community – a love borne out by her commitment to service and giving back. Fairmont State shares those values, and The Estaline May Fleming Memorial Scholarship helps us continue to give back to the communities that help us in our mission to provide a transformative education. Scholarship gifts like this one are vital to the University. This scholarship specifically supports students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance – a college filled with students pursuing degrees in high-need fields – and will have a profound impact on these programs and students, as well as our communities, for years to come.”
The Fairmont State Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the organization’s 2021 philanthropy awards. Awardees will be celebrated during the Fairmont State Foundation Scholarship and Stewardship Banquet planned to take place this fall.
“Congratulations to all the philanthropy award recipients. Your support of Fairmont State is surely a testament to you and of our fine University and the important role it plays in the life of our future leaders.” said President of the Fairmont State Foundation, Gary K. Bennett.
Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year
Tulasi and Marilyn Joshi have been named Outstanding Philanthropists of the Year for 2021 for their proven record of exceptional generosity and demonstrated civic and charitable responsibility. Dr. and Mrs. Joshi committed funds in the fall of 2020 in support of international student recruitment through the newly named Tulasi and Marilyn Joshi Office for Educational Pathways for International Centers & Students.
Dr. and Mrs. Joshi have also been inducted into the Column Society for giving more than $25,000 in their lifetime. They hope their philanthropic support will provide the chance for other international students to seek the dream of education and opportunity and provide the University with a broader global perspective.
Dr. Joshi is a Fairmont State University emeritus faculty member and has been part of the Falcon Family since 1972. He is originally from Nepal and continues to be an advocate for international students.
Gary K. Bennett Philanthropy Leadership Award
Kevin and Tina Rogers earned the Gary K. Bennett Philanthropy Leadership Award for 2021. Named for long-time Fairmont State Foundation board member and current Foundation President Gary K. Bennett, the award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership skills in coordinating and motivating other donors to follow their philanthropic lead for the benefit of Fairmont State University.
Kevin is President of Rogers Electrical, that he founded in 2011. Before founding Rogers Electrical, he operated a similar business for 15 years. Despite his busy work schedule, Kevin always finds time to be an advocate for Fairmont State University. He is a former member of the Fairmont State Foundation Board of Directors and is currently serving on the Fairmont State University Board of Governors.
Philanthropic Corporation of the Year
The 2021 Philanthropic Corporation of the Year Award was given to Equitrans Midstream. To qualify for this award, a corporation must demonstrate outstanding commitment through its financial support and engagement of others in activities that support and advance philanthropy at Fairmont State University.
Equitrans Midstream provided funds for the construction of the Equitrans Midstream Sustainable Shelter, which will cover the purchase of materials, supplies, labor and insurance. The shelter will be used as an outdoor learning space after completion.
As one of North America’s premier midstream services companies, Equitrans has a steadfast commitment to sustainability and understands their responsibility to manage the environmental, social and governance issues that matter most. Through safe, responsible operations and ongoing environmental stewardship activities, their pledge is to conduct business in a socially responsible and ethical manner, respecting their employees, communities, business partners and all stakeholders.
Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation
The Outstanding Philanthropic Foundation award went to the Datha Gene Foundation. To qualify for this award, a foundation must demonstrate outstanding commitment through its financial support and engagement of others in activities that support and advance philanthropy at Fairmont State University.
In the spring of 2021, the organization generously committed funds supporting The Datha & Gene Smith Fellows Program, a summer bridge program designed to prepare first-generation college students for their transition to student life at Fairmont State University. The program is in development and will begin in the summer of 2022.
Legacy Leaders Award
Bob and Susan Hawkins, who were also inducted into the 1865 Heritage Society for planned giving, were named Legacy Leaders this year. This award seeks to honor a generous donor for their dedication and commitment to the programs and students at Fairmont State University through legacy gifts.
Both Bob and Susan are retired educators who met while studying in the doctoral program at Virginia Tech. They believe in supporting future educators and for that reason they established the Dr. Bob and Susan Hawkins Endowed Scholarship in 2016 for West Virginia students majoring in Education. In the fall of 2020, they again committed to supporting future educators by arranging a gift as part of their estate plan to increase the impact of their existing scholarship.
“Fairmont State is blessed by the generosity and love of these individuals and corporations,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Fairmont State strives to inspire and empower not only those among our campus community, but also the larger communities who support us. We simply could not uphold that mission without the philanthropical leadership of these award winners, and we are indebted to them.”
In addition to these awardees, the Mon Health Medical Center Foundation is being honored for their induction into the Fairmont State Foundation President’s Circle, a giving society that honors individuals and organizations who have provided more than $500,000 to Fairmont State University. Mon Health has been a vital supporter of the University’s College of Nursing, helping numerous students during their nursing education and throughout their careers in the healthcare sector in West Virginia.
Fairmont State University alumni create scholarship for College of Education, Health and Human Performance studentsFairmont State University alumni create scholarship for College of Education, Health and Human Performance students
Two Grafton, West Virginia natives have established a new endowed scholarship for students at Fairmont State University.
David and Barbara Riggleman, both Fairmont State alumni, chose to support the College of Education, Health and Human Performance through the David and Barbara Riggleman Endowed Scholarship because of the impact that educators had on their lives.
“We were the first members of our families to attend college, so attending Fairmont State enabled us to feel we were a part of the Falcon Family. Small class sizes enabled us to feel connected to our fellow students and our professors,” said Barbara. “Our lives were greatly enriched with all the experiences we received through our high school years and at Fairmont State, and we want other students to have the same opportunities.”
David completed his business degree at Fairmont State in 1969 and taught at a technical school while he served in the United States Air Force. Following his military service, he enjoyed a 36-year career at Monongahela Power Company. Barbara finished her degree in English in 1976 before going on to enrich the lives of students at Grafton High School as an English teacher.
“It is through the loyal and generous support of David and Barbara Riggleman that future students may be able to complete their educational dreams. With the increases in costs of higher education, more students’ scholarships are woefully needed at Fairmont State. Scholarships help relieve part of the financial pressure faced by most students today,” according to Gary K. Bennett, President of the Fairmont State Foundation.
Nearly 90% of students at Fairmont State rely on some form of financial aid to cover the costs of pursuing a degree.
“David and Barbara Riggleman are perfect examples of what it means to have a Falcon Heart,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “Hard-working and generous, they know the impact a Fairmont State education had on their own lives. Through the David and Barbara Riggleman Endowed Scholarship, they’re enabling that transformative opportunity to remain accessible for future generations of Falcons.”
The David and Barbara Riggleman Endowed Scholarship will be available to students in the College of Education, Health and Human Performance with a grade point average of 2.5 or higher. First preference will be given to students from Taylor County, West Virginia.
Alumni and friends of Fairmont State University contributed more than $361,000 on Thursday, October 28 during the Third Annual Falcon Day of Giving.
This year, the Fairmont State Foundation set a goal to raise $325,000 in 24 hours, and 605 donors helped exceed that goal. Funds raised during the 2021 Day of Giving will provide support to 39 different programs campus wide, filling departmental needs and providing academic scholarships.
Donors provided nearly $70,000 for academic and athletic scholarships, along with more than $179,000 earmarked for athletic programs. Almost $59,000 was provided for the Falcon Fund, which supports the greatest needs of the University. More than $45,000 was received for individual colleges to use in support of departmental scholarships, faculty initiatives and special projects. The College of Science & Technology earned the most individual donors (67) and greatest dollar amount ($13,875) for an academic unit. Women’s softball secured the most donors for athletics programs at 49, and women’s basketball had the highest dollar amount of all athletics programs this year at $41,940.
“This fundraising effort gives the various areas extra funding over and above any state budget amount that they receive to run their operation,” according to Gary K. Bennett, Fairmont State Foundation President. “This gives them money to do the things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. It affords student scholarships in addition to what the state provides. It provides for some lab equipment that folks are interested in. It provides for some additional instructional equipment that wasn’t in the budget this year. It’s for those extra things they believe are needed to provide a better education experience for the students.”
Throughout the year, the Foundation works to secure matching funds in support of the challenges offered during Day of Giving. Some of these generous matching gift donors include Fairmont State Board of Governors member, Kevin Rogers and his wife Tina, who provided matches for football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball programs. Tom and Lori Kliethermes provided match gifts made in support of academic and athletic scholarships.
Fairmont State alumnus, Robert “Buck” Thompson, also matched gifts to the women’s basketball, men’s tennis and women’s tennis programs. William Laughlin and his wife Lois Muto Laughlin matched gifts in support of academic programs and athletic scholarships.
Additionally, the Foundation received corporate sponsorships from DQE Communications, Fairmont Kitchen Center, Coal Country Miniature Golf and Keystone Realty Group (Christina Gouzd, Broker).
“Once again, the Falcon Family has proven to be second to none when it comes to demonstrating their support,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “We shattered our goal. The funds raised are vital to the University. Through our donors’ generosity, dreams will be realized – academic and athletic programs will get stronger, and our faculty, staff and students will soar even higher. I am so grateful for this family each and every day.”