Fairmont State's community engagement initiative, "Getting to Know You," has been named best in the WVIAC by the NCAA for the 2009-10 school year.
The NCAA selected one winner from each of the 18 conferences in Division II. FSU was among those 18 schools and received $500 for its award-winning campaign. Benedict College's program, "Daniel Burgess Tricycle Relays," was the overall national winner. The Division II council has emphasized bringing community to campus to experience collegiate events and is in its second year in sponsoring the Community Engagement Awards of Excellence.
"Fairmont State University is thrilled to be recognized as one of the top schools in the country in this regard," said Rusty Elliott, director of athletics. "Community support is a top priority for us as a school and athletic department, as evidenced by this national recognition."
Fairmont State's campaign was centered on the Aug. 27, 2009, season opening home football game against Clarion University. Community groups, such as the Marion County Chamber of Commerce, were encouraged to come to the game and to meet the new president of the university. At the same time, football student-athletes went out in the community to hand out wrist bands, schedule cards and posters, personally inviting the community to come to the game and support FSU. The idea was to make the experience of going to a Fairmont State athletic event personal to the community by meeting the players and FSU President Tom Krepel.
"This community engagement project kicked off a highly successful season for attendance at FSU athletic events. I enjoyed meeting many community members at the Clarion game and offer thanks to the community for their support of the Fighting Falcons throughout the year. I believe that an institution like Fairmont State University has a responsibility to be a resource for our community, region and state. Making people feel welcome on campus and included in FSU athletic and academic successes is key to FSU's future endeavors," Krepel said.
To be considered for the award, Fairmont State developed a booklet (PDF) and submitted a seven-minute DVD outlining the event and its success.
"I am so proud of this effort, mainly because so many groups came together for the common interest of Fairmont State," said Adam Zundell, director of athletic media relations, who coordinated the efforts and handled the submission to the NCAA. "In my time here, whenever the community has been challenged to come and support Fairmont State, it does so in standout fashion. I can't thank the campus groups enough for their support and involvement to help make it a great night for the players, fans and students."
Elliott acknowledged that the success of the project was a result of a team effort.
"Our staff did a great job in helping us get this started, and then we received great support from the Marion County Chamber of Commerce and people on campus like Devanna Corley, Shannon Kelley, Tina Mascaro and Laurie Johnston, just to name a few," Elliott said. "It takes many people to pull something like this off, but when we all work together, great things like this happen."