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.
In 2016, a Philippi, WV, native and his wife established an endowed scholarship supporting education majors at Fairmont State University. The couple has recently arranged a planned gift as part of their estate plan and additional cash funds to further support aspiring teachers through the existing Dr. Bob and Susan Hawkins Endowed Scholarship.
Dr. and Mrs. Hawkins, now living in Virginia Beach, VA, are retired educators who are committed to the education profession and the support of future teachers. They have a strong desire to help students who are devoted to a teaching career but unable to afford a college education.
“College is much more expensive today than when Susan and I were undergraduate students,” said Dr. Hawkins. “I can’t stand the thought of a person who could become such a fine and caring classroom teacher as my wife being unable to get a degree because of finances.”
A planned gift, either through a will, making the foundation a beneficiary of an IRA or other retirement account, ensures that funds will be available even after the donor has died, said Fairmont State Foundation President Julie R. Cryser.
“To give not only additional funding but to ensure that the fund grows after they pass is generous, thoughtful and strategic,” Cryser said.
Dr. Hawkins, a Fairmont State University alumnus, began his career as an educator at Fairmont Senior High School before teaching at Hampton University in Hampton, VA., and as an adjunct professor at Virginia Wesleyan University. During most of his career, he served as an Education Specialist for the Department of Defense, Defense Acquisition University, serving as the Director of Faculty Professional Development designing curricula, conducting educator training, and designing and delivering management and executive level training programs and seminars.
He credits his success to his experience at Fairmont State. In particular, he remembers Dean George Turley, who was an advocate and mentor to Hawkins throughout his undergraduate experience. “I really did not realize what a quality education and preparation for life I received at Fairmont State until much later in my life,” he said.
Mrs. Hawkins’ introduction to Fairmont State came through Dr. Hawkins and especially by attending his annual Theta Xi Fraternity, Kappa Gamma Chapter Alumni Association events. Her college experience took place at larger institutions, including the University of North Carolina, and Virginia Tech, where the couple met when studying in the doctoral program together. She has been fascinated with the small and close-knit community that Fairmont State offers and the resulting connectedness on campus. For this reason, they chose together to support Fairmont State with their initial endowed scholarship in 2016. They consider Fairmont State University to be a place to belong, to be involved, to be connected, and to receive an excellent education.
“The heart of the Falcon Family knows no limits,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “By including Fairmont State in their estate planning, the Dr. Bob and Susan Hawkins Endowed Scholarship will inspire and support tomorrow’s educators for years and years to come. The Hawkins’ selfless generosity will have an immeasurable impact, as our students entire the education profession and make their own contributions.”
The Dr. Bob and Susan Hawkins Endowed Scholarship is available to Fairmont State University students who are West Virginia residents majoring in education.
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.