Scholarships established for music education and occupational safety students at Fairmont State University

A Marion County native has arranged a planned gift to establish two scholarships supporting students in music education and occupational safety programs at Fairmont State University. 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 have been created to honor the shared commitment to improve the lives of others and encourage a legacy of supporting students in these fields.

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.

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