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Merri Incitti joins Fairmont State University leadership

Fairmont State University is excited to welcome Merri Incitti as the Associate Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Operations. 

She received her bachelor’s degree in management from Virginia State University and then went on to complete her MBA at Virginia Commonwealth University. Following that, she took a two-year temporary position in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges Office at Virginia State University. 

“That position was supposed to just give me time to figure out what I wanted to do and that’s exactly what I ended up doing,” she said. “I’ve been in higher education for over 20 years and it’s always been in accreditation and assessment of some sort.” 

President Dr. Mirta Martin said the University is fortunate to have Incitti’s experience in relation to assessment and accreditation. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome Merri Incitti to Fairmont State. Not only is her expertise in accreditation and assessment truly second to none, but her life experience is uniquely suited to serving our students,” she saisd. “As a first-generation student herself, she’s walked in their shoes and knows, firsthand, the pitfalls that can await students. I think that’s what’s given her such a unique and deep appreciation for support systems that can foster student success.”

In her new position at Fairmont State, she said assessment and accreditation are two of the biggest parts of what she does. Accreditation is making sure everything is done properly and in alignment with accreditors like the Higher Learning Commission. 

“I feel very passionate about all we do because it all leads to the strategic operations,” she said. “Everything we do leads to student success and retention, if we don’t have that there is no institution.” 

Incitti noted that building pathways puts her in connection with people she normally wouldn’t be with on a daily basis. This allows the institution to start building other partnerships by getting to know the administration at other institutions. 

“The fun part is going to be making new partnerships and pathways for our students or potential students,” she said. “We want to build pathways from local technical and community colleges but to do that we have to develop articulation agreements from each one for the variety of programs they would like to offer.”

Being a first-generation student from a military background, Incitti said she understands the importance of set pathways for students. First-generation students need the guidance to complete their degrees and that’s one of the reason articulation agreements are so important. 

“I developed my pathway from three different institutions, I graduated with 164 credits when I only needed 120 because I had one advisor who would tell me something and then another that told me I couldn’t do that. There was no path for me to follow, I was at their mercy,” she said. “When I became an academic advisor in my past, I learned that was not so. Someone needed to put their foot down. These pathways are very, very important from a personal side of who I am.” 

Incitti said one thing she loves about Fairmont State is the family atmosphere with the close-knit faculty and staff. This is something that is also important for students, especially those who are first generation students. 

“To me, this is what a first-generation student needs. I was a first-generation student and I think that’s why I floundered my first few years, transferred and changed my major several times and I probably wouldn’t have floundered so badly if I had been at a smaller, regional institution that totally got who the student was,” she said.

“I know we always have room for improvement but I do believe that Fairmont State understands who their constituency is, that they are West Virginia Students and they come from a background where we have to have the additional support. I think we actually have the best support system for those types of students here.”

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