By KAILEE GALLAHAN
The Exponent Telegram
FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Fairmont State University President Maria Rose has made an impact in academic programs and student enrollment as the 14th president of the university, officials say. Rose will retire June 30 after serving six years as president.
As a graduate of Fairmont State University, Rose said she owes everything to the institution.
“I was a first-generation college student in my family and graduated with a degree in education from Fairmont State,” she said. “I spent several years teaching in Marion County schools, and when I became president, I knew I wanted to give back to the university as much as I could.”
Rose has seen an increase in retention and enrollment at FSU, she said, much of which she feels can be attributed to the success of the school’s strong academic programs.
The institution has added a master’s degree in architecture, for which officials are working on specialized accreditation, Rose said. Under her leadership, the campus also has reduced the number of credit hours needed for degree completion from 128 hours to 120 hours; implemented a program for students with autism and special needs that helps continue its success in partnership with Marshall University; and began a co-requisite model for students to receive extra support through tutoring in math and English.
“We have very strong students here, and they could very well go anywhere that they would like, but they choose to come to Fairmont State because they know that we are able to provide a number of opportunities, including internships, practical experiences and chances to study abroad,” Rose said. “Students have also found the small class sizes and individual attention beneficial, which has helped with enrollment.”
Rose has exhibited professionalism, dedication and commitment in every role assigned to her, said Christina Lavorata, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
Through a large Strengthening Institutions Grant from the federal government, Lavorata said Rose was able to fund tutoring services for students who struggled. She said there were many instances when Rose would utilize her budget for the good of the faculty and student body.
“Whether it was for faculty and professional development, student travel or students who were having difficulties financially, Dr. Rose would always remind us that the students came first,” she said. “She would work to find funding for students who needed financial help, and for three years she was able to fund the Governor’s Honors Academy so promising high school seniors could spend three weeks on the Fairmont State campus.”
In addition to putting students at the top of her priority list, Lavorata said Rose also was cautious when it came to hiring professionals and filling positions after individuals left the college.
“She would always look at more options to continue to do great things, but to save money at the same time,” she said. “Sometimes this meant dispersing a job’s tasks among different individuals and giving them a small raise, instead of hiring a new person after a retirement or resignation.”
The campus has received numerous upgrades and renovations under Rose’s leadership, including new roofing, elevator repair, new flooring and doors in the campus library, a Starbucks shop, new student study spaces and the implementation of interactive learning classrooms.
Rose said the construction of University Terrace campus living has added to the retention and enrollment for the university by adding approximately 340 beds in suite-style and individual apartments. College Park Apartments are being replaced with parking spaces for students, Rose said.
“She knew the institution from inside out, and that gave her great insight,” Yann said. “Over the years, she has done so many things that many people would have loved to do as president. She has changed the face of the university.”
Yann said one of the more significant changes involved giving more financial responsibility to departments within the school, allowing them to decide what internal properties were most important.
“This gave departments more ownership. And with the many budget cuts that higher education has received, this allowed each of the schools to look within their departments and prioritize things,” she said.
Rose has had strategic plans in mind, and while her legacy will live for years, the community has been proud to have one of their own serve as president.
Yann said the university is in searching both for an interim president and a permanent president.
“Fairmont State University is one of the best institutions around,” Rose said, “with quality academic programs, the best faculty in the world, and students who we are beyond proud of for being not only successful on campus, but successful in life. I am grateful for the relationships built and lives changed by this university, which has made a great impact on my life. I will always be proud to be part of the Falcon family.”
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