FAIRMONT – The beginning of a new school year holds a different meaning depending on who you ask.
While it means one thing for students, for administrators at a university, the time presents an opportunity to both plan for the coming semester and to reflect on the previous school year gone by.
“This and commencement are my favorite times of the year,” said Fairmont State president Mirta Martin. “It’s the beginning of a year that brings excitement... that brings in a new class of students that we have the opportunity and the privilege to nurture and challenge, and we have returning students who we are going to continue to nurture and challenge to guide toward their path.”
On Tuesday, Fairmont State University administrators welcomed the faculty, staff and teachers of the school back to school prior to the start of the semester with a breakfast event addressed by the institution’s leadership.
To begin the breakfast, Martin first expressed her gratitude to the staff for their input in the successes of last school and fiscal year. A short video also summarized the past year and the implementations made at Fairmont State.
“The message this year is going to be one of gratitude for the faculty and the staff,” Martin said. “We have achieved incredible milestones and it is because of the work, the unity, the direction in which this campus has embraced and we are now positioned to thrive.”
Some of the accomplishments attained by the university were summed up in a press release, which detailed the financial shape of the institution, with a net of $1.9 million for fiscal year 2019, informed of a two percent increase in enrollment and donation growth in the Fairmont State Foundation.
The administration plans to use the momentum gained through these accomplishments to further even more in the coming year.
“We plan to use our position this year to take advantage of some strategic initiatives we’re trying to implement,” said Richard Harvey, provost at Fairmont State University. “Some new programs, administrative structures, getting ready for our next HLC accreditation visits; those are the things I’m going to be talking about today.”
Heads of different departments also spoke at the breakfast, including vice president of university relations Lyndsey Dugan, vice president of student affairs and athletics Tim McNeely, vice president of information technology/CIO Joy Hatch, vice president for administration, finance/CFO Christa Kwaitkowski and Fairmont State Foundation president Julie Cryser.
Harvey also commented on the excitement had in a new year’s beginning, and said he enjoys getting back to the goal of a university in furthering education for students.
“I’ve been to a few of these in three decades,” Harvey said. “It’s always an exciting time; to welcome the faculty back, to welcome the students back to do what we really love to do, and that is to engage with the students and try to transform their lives through higher education.”
Now entering his second year as provost at the university, Harvey said he also feels that he has more of a grip on how he and Fairmont State can succeed in the coming year.
“I’m probably most excited because this is my second year,” Harvey said. “Last year was my rookie year. I was learning a lot of things, stumbling around and figuring things out, new information every day – I’ve experienced that.
“Now we can hit the ground running a little bit more and try to bring some things to actual closure and completion to move forward.”
According to Martin, the accomplishments from last year will also provide a foundation and framework for the upcoming school year, and will help push the university forward in being a hub for not only local West Virginians, but those coming to the state from anywhere in the world.
“We will achieve a more deliberate pace,” Martin said. “A pace that will allow us to do things right and to become the destination that we are destined to be for north central West Virginia, for West Virginians and for the nation and even the world.”