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Incoming Fairmont State University President Martin living in dorm to show accessibility


Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va.  — Incoming Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin doesn’t just want to tell students that she’s accessible; she wants to show it.

And since the beginning of November, she’s been demonstrating that, as she lives in a dorm room on the fifth floor at Bryant Place.

“I want to be part of their lives,” Martin said. “I want to be accessible, so I am accessible.”

Incoming Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin has been living in a dorm at Bryant Place, where she has been interacting with students.
(Times West Virginian photo by Tiffany Towner)

Martin said she asked to live in the dorm until she officially begins her new role in January, when she will be living at Shaw House, eventually with her husband.

Complete with a mini fridge, the dorm room is comfortable, Martin said, adding that she has not adorned the walls with any posters, and she doesn’t have a roommate.

She’s not in the room often, she explained. She brought up the calendar on her phone, scrolling to show how she’s booked to the minute every day with meetings. Her day starts at 7:30 a.m., she said, and she’s not typically back until 9:30 or 10 p.m.

“It’s a place that I put my head at night,” she said.

Living in the dorm allows her to interact with students, Martin said. She explained that she gives students her cellphone number and encourages them to use it if they need her for anything. And they have called her for help, she said.

She also meets with and encourages the students to share ideas with her about suggestions for FSU.

“They are a wealth of information that has not been tapped,” Martin said, adding that they have told her some significant ideas, many of which are inexpensive, that could make a big difference at the university. “I want to hear those suggestions.”

Dr. Mirta Martin
Another advantage to living in a dorm on campus is that Martin has first-hand knowledge of what the experience is like for students. Now, she said, when she goes to recruiting events and talks to potential students and their parents, she can tell them how clean the residence hall is, how safe it is, what the noise level is like and what the rooms are like.

“There’s nothing like experiencing first-hand what the students experience,” she said. “It gives me the opportunity to relate to many of the kids.”

And as the students are FSU’s clients, Martin said it is of the utmost importance to her to make sure they are safe and successful.

“These kids’ success is my only priority,” Martin said. “They are a little younger than my children, not by much. But they are my children.”

Tiffany Towner can be reached at [email protected].

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