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Dr. Mike Davis to be formally installed as Fairmont State’s 27th President during Inauguration Ceremony

 Fairmont State University will formally install Dr. Michael K. Davis as its 27th President on Thursday, April 4 at 4 p.m. in Fairmont State’s Falcon Center. The ceremony will take place in front of a crowd of faculty and staff, students and alumni, community members, local and state officials, delegates from other universities, and former colleagues of Dr. Davis, amongst others. West Virginia Delegate Joey Garcia, West Virginia Senator Ben Queen, and Pierpont and Community Technical College President Dr. Milan Hayward will provide greetings during the installation ceremony.

“President Davis has done so much for Fairmont State in the nine months he has been here. His passion for Fairmont State and ability to build meaningful connections with the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members he encounters have further solidified his position as Fairmont State’s leader,” said Board of Governors Chair Rusty Hutson. “We knew when we selected him he was the right person for the job and we have not been disappointed. Time and time again Dr. Davis has gone above and beyond for the University.”

Davis began his presidency on July 1, 2023. He hit the ground running by immediately immersing himself in the campus and the surrounding communities. His “Open Mike” sessions—in-person and virtual—have allowed Fairmont State students, employees, and community members to have meaningful discussions with him.

Davis believes that as a public institution, Fairmont State needs to serve the community in tandem with students. “Fairmont State isn’t just located in North Central West Virginia; it’s an integral part of the region,” Davis said. “I want people to view our campus as a place for everyone. We are continuing to find new ways to serve the community and connect with people across the region.”

After spending his first months gaining insight from on- and off-campus, Davis announced the beginning of Fairmont State’s strategic planning process. The strategic plan will be developed with the participation and wisdom of units from across campus as well as external constituencies. The 10-year strategic vision will be released in fall 2024 and the 3-year implementation plan will be launched in early 2025.

“The planning process is just as important as the plan itself,” Davis said. “We are going to learn a lot throughout this journey. We’re going to have conversations with people from all areas on campus and come up with a lot of great ideas that are going to improve Fairmont State. I am excited to see what comes out of this process.”

In addition to campus and community constituencies, Davis has spent a significant amount of time meeting with West Virginia legislators. He has been a champion for Fairmont State and met regularly with lawmakers to help improve our university and higher education as a whole.

One recent major collaboration between Fairmont State and West Virginia’s elected officials is the founding of Middle College. This partnership with KVC West Virginia will serve foster youth ages 16-18. The program, free for participants, will provide on-campus housing and other resources to foster youth while they earn their high school diploma and an associate degree.

Davis has been an avid supporter of Middle College and helped ensure that the extensive planning that went into the creation of Middle College became a reality.

“Fairmont State is committed to providing accessible higher education and improving communities,” Davis stated. “Middle College embodies this commitment by providing life-changing opportunities to a vulnerable and deserving population.”

Another milestone event for Davis was Fairmont State’s 2024 annual Day of Giving. Groups from across campus came together to raise funds that benefit academics, athletics, student groups, and support resources. Davis amplified these efforts by coordinating the first-ever 24-hour Falcon Day of Giving livestream. As a result, the event exceeded its $375,000 goal, raising more than $530,000 and setting a new Day of Giving record.

“Every dollar donated on Day of Giving will change student lives,” Davis said. “Not only did we raise funds, but we also raised spirits. Seeing everyone take so much pride in Fairmont State and show that they truly believe in our mission was amazing. The optimism and enthusiasm on campus was infectious.”

Less than a year into his Presidency, Davis has already achieved many victories for Fairmont State. Looking forward, he plans to continue to develop Fairmont State into an educational beacon that sets the highest standards in the state of West Virginia and beyond.

“I believe Fairmont State is the best regional university in West Virginia,” Davis stated. “It’s a great place to learn, a great place to work, and a great place to call home. I want to make sure that message reaches every resident of the state.”

Davis will continue to communicate to the campus and community through the Presidential website, which includes monthly video updates and other messages.

“I am honored to be Fairmont State’s President,” said Davis. “When I saw Fairmont State was searching for their next president, I knew it was the place for me. West Virginia is a great state, and this region has so much to offer. I look forward to many more fantastic years serving as President of Fairmont State University.”

About President Davis

Prior to assuming the leadership of Fairmont State, Dr. Davis served as Chief of Staff at James Madison University. In that role, he oversaw presidential priorities and directed matters of institutional importance, including strategic planning, institutional research, and accreditation. Dr. Davis was also regularly involved in external relations, strategic communication, alumni engagement, advancement, diversity and inclusion, and fiscal management.

Previously, Dr. Davis served as a faculty member and Director of Debate in James Madison’s School of Communication Studies. There, he leveraged alumni support and external grants to elevate the Madison Debate Society to national renown. Earlier in his career, Dr. Davis taught communication studies and coached debate at Georgia State University, University of Georgia, University of Rochester, University of Louisville, Mercer University, and Syracuse University.

President Davis earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Georgia. He also holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University. His academic research interests focus on women in the Civil Rights Movement, debate pedagogy, presidential rhetoric, and argumentation and advocacy.

President Davis’ leadership approach grew from, and is grounded in, his commitment to students. This emphasis is rooted in his personal experience as a first-generation college student. Dr. Davis credits his completion of undergraduate studies to his advocates – people who treated him like a person, not a number, and who regularly reminded him of his potential.

President Davis believes that higher education is fueled by relationships. His interactions with students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, elected officials, and community members promote collaboration, foster innovation, and position Fairmont State University as a great place to learn, to work, and to call home.

About Fairmont State University

Fairmont State University’s roots reach back to the birth of public education in West Virginia. The state’s first private teacher’s school, the West Virginia Normal School at Fairmont, was established by John N. Boyd in 1865. On February 27, 1867, the school became a state institution.

Over the intervening years, the University’s name has changed – to Fairmont State Normal School in the 1870s, to Fairmont State Teachers College in 1931, to Fairmont State College in 1944, and finally to Fairmont State University in 2004 – reflecting the ongoing expansion of academic offerings. Today Fairmont State delivers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs of study.

To accommodate its growth, the University has also changed locations. Originally housed in the basement of the Methodist Protestant Church in Fairmont, construction began on a brick building on the northwest corner of Adams and Quincy Streets in 1867. In 1893, Fairmont State Normal School moved into a new building on Second Street and Fairmont Avenue. In early 1917, the school moved to the building today called Hardway Hall, which sits atop a hill overlooking Locust Avenue.

The University’s 120-acre main campus now includes dozens of buildings, while retaining its cozy, tree-filled, hilltop atmosphere. Fairmont State also has a presence in Harrison County, operating the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center in Bridgeport.

From its initial enrollment of 30 students in 1868, Fairmont State has grown to become the state’s third largest public university, with roughly 2,900 students. What is more, the University has the highest percentage of native West Virginian students in the state.

What has remained constant is the University’s impact; for nearly 160 years, Fairmont State has transformed the lives of students and served as a cornerstone for the communities of North Central West Virginia. Today, Fairmont State University has an alumni network of more than 40,000 Falcons across the state and around the world.

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