Faculty Merit Winners

Fairmont State Faculty Are Leaders in Higher Education

Since 1997, Fairmont State has had two winners of the The Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia, Inc., Professor of the Year Award, the state’s most prestigious faculty award.

The Faculty Merit Foundation was created in 1984 to recognize and reward outstanding innovation and creativity among the faculties of the state’s public and private colleges and universities.

Dr. Gregory T. Hinton, Professor of Business Law, was chosen as Professor of the Year for 1997.

Hinton joined the Fairmont State faculty in 1989. He earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from West Virginia University after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fairmont State.

A lifelong resident of Marion County, Hinton has distinguished himself in service to his community in a wide variety of roles. He was elected to the Fairmont City Council in 1977 and served on the council for nine years. During his tenure, he became the first African-American to be elected mayor of a major city in West Virginia. After his term, Hinton served as city of Fairmont Building Commissioner for one year. He has also served on numerous boards and professional associations.

These include tenures as both vice president and president of the Mountain State Bar Association and a term as president of the Marion County Chapter of the NAACP. He has held membership on the boards of Fairmont General Hospital, WNPB-TV and the Marion County Armory. Hinton has maintained an ongoing relationship with numerous organizations, churches and schools as a guest speaker.

Hinton has been honored as the Student Government Teacher of the Year and has twice been the recipient of the William A. Boram Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was the first faculty member selected by Student Government to present the “Last Lecture,” and he has received the Fairmont State Excellence in Advising Award. He has been named West Virginia Professor of the Year by both the Carnegie Foundation, and he was nationally recognized among African-American leaders with the Strong Men and Strong Women: Excellence in Leadership Award. The West Virginia Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commission gave Hinton the “Living the Dream” Award for scholarship and his dedication to education.

Dr. Judy P. Byers, Professor of English and Director of the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State, was selected as the winner of the award in 2002.

A native of Marion County, Byers is known for her work as a folklorist, workshop director, English education consultant and storyteller. As a professor in the Department of Language & Literature and Supervisor of English Education at Fairmont State, Byers incorporates storytelling and creative dramatics in many of her courses including “Folk Literature” and “Language Arts/English Methodology.” She is executrix for the folklore estate of the late Dr. Ruth Ann Musick, an eminent collector of Appalachian folklore, and is the archivist for this vast collection, which includes the holdings of the West Virginia Folklore Society, housed at Fairmont State. From these endeavors has developed the West Virginia Folklife Center and Folklore Studies Program at Fairmont State, which Byers directs.

Byers earned her undergraduate degree from FS and her master and doctorate degrees from West Virginia University. She completed post graduate studies at the International Folklore Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, and observed educational drama throughout the British schools. Her dissertation analyzed the folkloric-creative dramatics based approach to the teaching of language arts.

In 2000, she was named one of Fairmont State’s Alumni of Achievement for her work in developing folklore studies at the college. Byers taught in Marion County public schools for 13 years and was named W.Va. Teacher of the Year in 1977. In August 2002, Byers received Fairmont State’s first named professorship when she was selected as the Abelina Suarez Professor of English.