Fairmont State University finished its fiscal year (July 1 – June 30) in a strong position as the most financially solvent four-year institution in the state. Solvency, is defined by the number of days an institution will remain operational using the amount of cash they have on hand.
In 2017, the University was looking at a financial loss of $2.9 million. Following the naming of new President Mirta M. Martin on January 1, 2018 the University implementated cost saving/containment and strategic initiatives which resulted in a drastic financial shift. The University ended 2018 with a gain in net position of $1.9 million.
Suttle and Stalnaker, the institution’s independent auditing firm, expressed the University’s tradition of excellence in financial reporting by receiving an unmodified opinion on its audit, the highest status it can receive.
In addition to the audit results, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the institution’s accrediting body, placed Fairmont State University’s CFI Score “above the zone” at 1.91, which indicates strong financial stability. The HLC reviews financial and non-financial data for specific risk indicators on an annual basis to calculate the Composite Financial Indicator (CFI) ratios. This is the first time in four years the University has been at this level.
As 2019 began, President Martin remained focused on Fairmont State continuing to be the aspirational and inspirational heart of North Central West Virginia. The path forward was centered on one thought—There’s no growth in comfort.
“For us to continue to grow, and grow we must; for us to achieve more than we thought ever possible, we must be willing to leave behind the comfort of how we’ve always done things and embrace new ways of working together.”
And grow they did. FY19 saw many achievements for Marion county’s third largest employer surrounding enrollment, grant funding and fundraising.
The fall semester began with a 2% overall enrollment increase, overcoming seven years of consistent annual enrollment decline totaling 18.9%. In addition, Fairmont State welcomed the largest incoming freshman class in University history—855 students. Increased enrollment and retention efforts also directly affected the campus’s residence halls which began the fall semester at full capacity.
In addition to enrollment growth, the University and its partners received more than $4.43 million in grant support during FY19. Included in the figure is $2.6 million to continue funding West Virginia’s FIRST2 STEM Student Success Alliance. The funding is part of the National Science Foundation (NSF) INCLUDES grant program, which helps to develop and maintain a diverse, innovative workforce in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. This initiative in West Virginia is one of five such programs nationwide to receive NSF funding under this grant program.
This fiscal year also saw the successful completion of Fairmont State Foundation’s Every Gift Matters—the Scholarship Campaign. Aimed at closing the two-and four-year scholarship gap, the campaign celebrates the ability of every gift to impact the lives of Fairmont State students. In November a goal of $1.3 million over 12 months was set. At the close of FY19, the campaign was over $2 million.
Part of that campaign’s success was the $1 million donation from Jed and Vicki Smith to create the Jed and Vicki Smith Scholars endowment which will award scholarships to full-time students. This is the largest gift received from a living alumnus in university history.
Due to the success of Every Gift Matters campaign and the University’s dedication to four-year scholarships, all two-year scholarships have now been converted to four-year scholarships.
Fundraising at the University was not only centered on receiving support but also giving it back. This year, Fairmont State donated a record $31,525 through the annual United Way Campaign. This amount is the largest in Fairmont State’s 39-year campaign history.
Looking ahead to FY20, Fairmont State anticipates continued financial strength. Enrollment, retention and fundraising will continue to be focal points and Dr. Martin’s mantra will continue—onward and upward.