Alumni Feature


Fairmont Graduate Ranks Among Pittsburgh’s Top Wealthy Managers

Tom Kijowski


Thomas Kijowski, Kijowski Investments, 1972 Fairmont State University graduate, has been selected as one of the Pittsburgh (Pa.) area’s top wealth managers by his clients according to a recent Pittsburgh Magazine Survey. This recognition, determined by client feedback, places him among less than five percent of the area’s wealth managers, a broad category that includes financial advisors, life insurance agents, accountants, tax advisors, attorneys and bankers.

Pittsburgh Magazine partnered with an independent research firm to survey 41,000 high net worth individuals and magazine subscribers. Additional surveys were sent to financial services industry professionals.

With market fluctuations seeming to be the norm, Kijowski specializes in managing the downside risks of investing. He uses varied analysis and diversification tools to help minimize the risks of investing for his clients. These tools help Kijowski determine what to buy, when to buy and when to sell. Kijowski has more than 25 years of investment and insurance experience. Individuals were asked to evaluate only wealth managers whom they knew through personal experience on none criteria: customer service, integrity, knowledge/expertise, communication, value for fee charged, meeting of financial objectives, post-sale service, quality of recommendations and overall satisfaction. After the research firm processed the thousands of surveys, each wealth manager was reviewed for regulatory actions, civil judicial actions, and customer complaints as reported by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other regulatory agencies.

The full list of Pittsburgh’s top wealth managers appears in the July issue of Pittsburgh Magazine. Kijowski is among Pittsburgh’s top wealth managers who scored the highest in overall client satisfaction.

While at Fairmont State University, Kijowski was a member of the wrestling team and active in the Theta Xi fraternity. Kijowski now resides in Pittsburgh.


Many happy returns for George Carver

George Carver


After 17 years with Allegheny Energy in Fairmont, George Carver was looking for a change. He applied for the position of Treasurer for the Upshur County School System, where he resides, but they were reluctant to hire him due to lack of school experience. Upshur County’s loss was Taylor County’s gain however when Carver accepted the position of Treasurer with the Taylor County School System in 2003. For six years, Carver has lead the way through his department from deficit to surplus, but now it is time to say goodbye. Carver recently accepted the position of Treasurer in the Upshur County School System, and this time they are glad to have him.

Carver earned his accounting degree from Fairmont State College in 1984, and his masters in 1990 from West Virginia Wesleyan.

“Fairmont State has one of the best accounting programs in the state,” Carver stated.

When he started his position in Taylor county, the school system was working under a $1.2 million dollar deficit. According to Carver, the board of education and superintendent at that time had to make some very difficult decisions, and the system watched every penny. During that period, however, the system still maintained growth with an addition to Grafton High School and the construction of West Taylor Elementary School. As Carver approaches his last days as treasurer, the projected budget is a surplus of nearly $500,000.

“It was a team effort,” Carver stated. “Everybody in the system contributed to reducing the deficit through doing without and coming up with ideas. I’m just the score keeper.”
Carver lives in Buckhannon with his wife Karen who teaches special education at Buckhannon Upshur Middle School. Their oldest son Hank will be a sophomore at Wesleyan this fall, and their youngest son Patrick will be a senior at Buckhannon Upshur High School. Though he has grown a strong attachment to Taylor County, it will be good to work closer to home.

“I have really enjoyed my time in Taylor County,” Carver reflects. “From the day I got here, I was very impressed by the community spirit. Taylor County needs a PR Director to get the word out on what a great place this is.”

Carver will be missed by all of his colleagues, and board of education members. Although he is humble and does not wish to admit it, he has played a key role in the success the system is seeing today.
“I can think of no one in this county that everyone has gotten along with as well as George,” stated Taylor County Board of Education President Nancy Ludwick. “He has been so patient with everyone, and he has taught me more in this short length of time that I have been a board member, than I have known for years. He never fails to return a phone call, and he treats everyone with respect. He always comes well-prepared for meetings and breaks down the financial lingo so that we can understand it. My respect for George knows no bounds.”

Annette Hughart will be replacing George as treasurer. She is a CPA who has served as treasurer for both the Randolph and Fayette County School Systems


Alumnus Writes Science Fiction/Fantasy Book


A 1997 Fairmont State graduate has written and published a science fiction/fantasy book titled, “A Land Divided,” which is planned as book one of a five-part epic called “The Lost Kingdom Saga.”

A Buckhannon native, Matt Gregory, who graduated from Fairmont State with a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice, is an adjunct professor at the Pierpont Community & Technical College Lewis County Center. He has served as the Buckhannon chief of police since November 2004, having started his career as a patrolman with the police force while still a student at Fairmont State. In addition to his B.S. degree, Gregory earned a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice through Fairmont State University in conjunction with Marshall University.

Gregory’s first book begins with the death of a king in a mythical land known as Purthia. “Since the king dies without an apparent heir to the throne, chaotic fighting erupts across the land in a desperate attempt for the power hungry to seize the fallen crown,” Gregory said.

Gregory promises his readers a classic tale of good verses evil, which evolves into a story of moral dilemmas and redemption. While each book in the saga will serve as a piece to the puzzle, each will also stand on its own.

“Throughout the stories, I rely on symbolism, focusing on such things as perseverance and the struggles and triumphs of the human character,” he said. “I use the things that I see and the things that inspire me, for the good and the bad, as topics in my writing.”

Book two of the saga, “The Taming of the Rogues,” is now under contract to enter production, Gregory said. For more information about, “A Land Divided,” or to order a copy of the book, visit


Teaching Artifact Donated To FSU

Education Donation
Daniel Poe presents the teacher’s aid kit to Devanna Corley, Director of Alumni Affairs for FSU.

A Fairmont State alumnus has donated a teaching artifact to Fairmont State University.

Daniel Poe of Fairmont, a 1957 graduate of Fairmont State College, presented Devanna Corley, Director of Alumni Affairs, with a one room schoolhouse traveling teacher’s aid kit. The kit, which is copyrighted with a date of 1887, will be placed on display in the Education Building.

“We are pleased to have our alumni help us remember the traditions and practices on which our most important profession has been built,” said Dr. Van Dempsey, Dean of the School of Education. “Mr. Poe’s gift on behalf of the Rogers family helps to remind us that in an age of rapid change and transition for the teaching profession, we have strong roots and a proud history at Fairmont State University.”

The teacher’s aid kit was used by Archie Rogers in the early 1900s. Rogers was a teacher in Preston County who taught in many one room schoolhouses. The artifact was passed on to his son, Claude Lee Rogers, as he followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a teacher in Preston County. Joyce Rogers, the widow of Claude Lee Rogers, gave the teacher’s aid kit to long-time family friend Daniel Poe because she knew he would make sure it was put to good use. Poe’s donation will allow the kit to be enjoyed by generations of Fairmont State students.


Tireless activist tackles health-care reform


There's nothing he relishes more than a cause, nothing he embraces more than a meaty social issue to sink his teeth into. Perry Bryant thrives on orchestrating social change. His favored route is government.

He's a former VISTA worker, former environmental lobbyist for the Citizen Action Group and former longtime lobbyist for the West Virginia Education Association.

Today, he's the tireless executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, a nonprofit group he founded to engineer health-care reforms. He recruited a board of esteemed community leaders, many with health-care credentials, snared some prestigious grants and set up a Web site,

He runs the organization out of his East End home. Considering the lofty mission, no task is beneath him. He stuffs envelopes, even goes door to door, passing out fliers and pamphlets.

At noon Saturday, he's leading a march to the state Capitol for a rally to play up the plight of the uninsured.

He's 61.

"My father was a career officer in the Air Force. I grew up mostly in Dayton, Ohio. After he retired, we went to just north of Boston. I had a normal childhood, played sports, did OK in school. I never really knew what I wanted to be, but I've been very fortunate. I've found some great jobs. I was thrilled to be associated with the Citizen Action Group and WVEA.

"My father believed it inappropriate for the military to be involved in politics, so in a military tradition, he didn't even vote until after he retired. My older sister was the role model for me. During John Kennedy's presidential campaign, she went to a rally in Dayton and got to shake his hand and didn't wash that hand for a week. Her enthusiasm for that political campaign had a significant impact on me.

"The whole 1960s had an impact on me. It was a different era with Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. There was a sense of optimism, that you could do things. I was involved in Vietnam War protests and went to Washington and participated in rallies there.

"I had long hair at one point, but the word hippie wouldn't be quite right. Hippie sounds more like a dropout, and that wasn't the direction I took. I was more of an activist. I was interested in issues.

"I graduated from Lynn English High School. A minister I'd had graduated from Fairmont State and suggested I apply at Fairmont. I was interested in getting away from my parents and having some freedom.

"I came to West Virginia, and I fell in love with the place. The people, in particular. Boston is a very cold place. People are not friendly. You come to West Virginia, and it's exactly the opposite. People are friendly and welcome and open. I loved the mountains and streams and rivers. The outdoors is very important to me. I love to go up to Canaan and hike in Dolly Sods.

"When I was growing up, I was here, there and everywhere. I didn't have roots. But as soon as I got here, it felt like home. I love this state. Those of us who found West Virginia are pretty fortunate.

"I dropped out of Fairmont State. I got drafted, then enlisted in the Army. I spent three years in Germany and came back to Fairmont State and started working more diligently. I got my degree in sociology and political science.

"I did some graduate work at WVU in public administration. I was always interested in public policy issues. Most public administration people go work for government. I always wanted to work on the outside for a common cause.

"Right out of college, I got this job with Region 6 Area Agency on Aging, my first professional job. I was an outreach coordinator for senior citizen programs. Before that, I was a VISTA volunteer. That's when I worked with Kate Long and others on trying to stop the Stonewall Jackson Dam.

"Kate said CAG had a three-month contract to hire a fundraiser and wondered if I'd be interested. I stayed five years at CAG with Kate and Dave Grubb and Adrienne Worthy, and we did some really good things. I was the legislative environmental coordinator.

"I worked on toxic air emissions and hazardous-waste issues. I went up to the Legislature. We helped establish a consistent presence for a citizen lobbyist and took it to a different level.

"There was a job opening with WVEA, and I applied for that. I spent almost 20 years representing teachers and service personnel. It wasn't just about salaries. It was about improving education. I think the public has a misconception about the WVEA and the teachers union mentality. It really is an association. They do things like represent teachers in grievances, making sure there is the technology in the classroom. They do work on salaries, so we can attract the best and brightest into the profession. We don't value educators as much as we should.

"I was the point person for PEIA within the WVEA. I saw that hospitals and doctors were well represented by all these associations out there, but there was a very limited organized voice for consumers. We needed to pull associations together that could represent consumers in shaping policy so it's more consumer friendly.

"At times, it is very slow and frustrating, but I believe government can do very positive things. Education, protecting the environment, Medicaid and Medicare, providing health insurance for low-income people and the elderly are very important programs.

"On health care, I have concluded that it is a partnership between the private sector and the public sector that will ultimately be able to bring about the most fundamental change.

"A report last week said four West Virginians a week die because they are uninsured. That is morally unacceptable, and we need to do something about it.

"I left WVEA, actually retired, and pulled together a number of people who I think very highly of to form West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. I made the first calls to say I had this idea. We drafted bylaws and incorporated. We've been able to do some good work.

"For example, on our Web site,, there's real solid information about which drugs are best for lowering cholesterol or blood pressure or helping with depression or diabetes or arthritis. So it's really information that can help average West Virginians take control of their own health, not all about insurance.

"There are tremendous challenges out there. There are people who do very well by the current system and see reform as a threat. Hospital administrators. Doctors. Insurance companies. We need to work with them to develop a high-performing health-care system that's financed in a fair manner.

"I run this out of my house. We don't pay rent or utilities. All equipment is donated. We put everything into research, newsletters and press releases.

"I do the data entries. I file the tax reports. I stuff envelopes. I pass out fliers. May 3, we have a rally to highlight that it's national Cover the Uninsured Week. We hope to have hundreds, maybe thousands, of people marching to the Capitol. I'm convinced that doing nothing is no longer an option.

"Idealistic? Well, I think it's important to have ideals and pursue them aggressively. You can't be cynical in this business. At the heart of it is, you need to bring people together and challenge them to think outside the box, not just about our own special interests, but our global interests and how we can change. I don't want to sound Pollyannaish, but if you give people that broader vision, set those high ideals, it will help them rise to the occasion.

"I have never made any real money, but I'm satisfied. I never envisioned myself being rich. But I can take vacations to the Grand Canyon and Alaska and the Canadian Rockies. I've been able to do those things and put aside some money for my son's education and my retirement.

"Beginning May 3, I hope we build a citizen movement for health-care reform. In 2009, I will be going to the Legislature with comprehensive reform. It's a big dream, getting that passed, and it might not come true, but I keep pushing in every way I can."



William Seifrit, Art Expert, Dies


William "Bill" Seifrit, one of Utah's leading art historians, died March 25, 2008, at his home in Murray, Utah. He enjoyed a long and varied career as an administrator, social worker, author, art historian, lecturer and writer.

Seifrit was born in 1935 in Fairmont, W.V. In 1956, he received a Bachelor of Arts from Fairmont State College. A year later he earned a Master of Arts at Ohio University and, in 1965, a Ph.D. at the same university.

After arriving in Utah in 1973, he served as a facilities analyst for the Utah State Building Board while also working in public relations and development for Ballet West.

Along with Robert Olpin, dean of the University of Utah's college of fine arts, and Vern Swanson, director of the Springville Museum of Art, Seifrit co-authored three extensive books on Utah's art history and Utah's visual arts ("Utah Art," "Utah Painting and Sculpture" and "Artists of Utah").

"When Bill moved to Utah," said Gary Swensen, a friend and fellow art collector, "I think he became a treasure to the Utah art world. The three books that he, Bob and Vern put together has changed the whole art awareness among an increasing number of collectors here in Utah."

In 1985, Seifrit was appointed to the first Salt Lake County Art Advisory Board. Two years later, he became part of a seven-person art acquisition committee to purchase $250,000 worth of works by Utah artists, past and present.

"Bill cared about both modern and traditional art," said Swanson. "He was interested in the whole package. He collected art; he had an eye and a passion for it."

Seifrit's passion for art was exceeded only by his passion for service.

"He was always looking for someone to help," said David Ericson, a friend and owner of David Ericson Fine Art. "When Bob Olpin passed away, he was the nucleus behind creating a fund in Bob's name at the University of Utah."

At the time of Olpin's passing, there was a concern that scholarly studies on Utah's art history might wane. Seifrit wanted to make sure this didn't happen.

"Bill was the type of person who would see a need and go out of his way to make something happen that would be in everybody's interest," Ericson said. "And he never felt the need to accept any of the credit."

According to Swanson, Seifrit was well beloved by everybody. "He was a giver; he gave all his information away. He worked hard to get it, and then he just gave it away to anybody who asked for it. So many scholars are selfish with their material, but Bill was just the opposite. Because, you see, it wasn't about him, it was about Utah art and how he could promote it. That was his mission."


Lemon honored as state's top math teacher

Diane Lemon


An elementary school teacher since 1972 with a 30-year tenure in Mineral County Schools, Frankfort Intermediate third-grade teacher Diane Lemon, received recognition for more than three decades of hard work when she was selected for the 2008 West Virginia Math Teacher of the year award.

The award, given since 1982, recognizes excellence in teaching in the field of mathematics. Lemon learned of her achievement on March 14 while attending the West Virginia Council Teachers of Mathematics (WVCTM) annual conference in Flatwoods, W.Va.

“I was shocked,” said Lemon. “I was sitting there listening to all of the things they were saying about the people thinking, I would like to be like that but I know I’m not. But then I was surprised because they were talking about me.”

To be selected for this recognition, Lemon said she was nominated by another individual in the school system, but that person does not work at FIS.

A teacher of all subjects, Lemon said there is currently a large amount of emphasis on making sure students can read. She said a lot of elementary school teachers believe that when they teach reading, that mathematics skills will follow.

“Sometimes it doesn’t always come,” said Lemon about students’ math skills. “It is proven that just because students can read may not necessarily mean they will do well in math.” Lemon said her favorite area in mathematics to teach is geometry because it “grabs the students’ attention.”

“These children are able to name every Pokemon card and pronounce them correctly and every dinosaur and can pronounce them correctly. We as adults don’t talk ‘math talk.’ A diamond is not a diamond. But children get really interested when we start talking math terms.” Lemon believes students absorb mathematics terms like a foreign language and that teachers shouldn’t wait to introduce these terms in higher grades. A 1967 graduate of Keyser High School, Lemon attended college at Fairmont State where she received a bachelor’s degree in 1972 in Elementary and Early Childhood Education while minoring in Industrial Arts. In 1975, Lemon received her Master’s of Early Childhood Education degree from West Virginia University. A member of the Mineral County Mathematics Team and the chairperson for the Mineral County Curriculum for grades three and four, Lemon began her teaching career in Marion County at James Fork Elementary and Farmington Elementary.

She then transferred to Mineral County Schools in 1978 where she has been ever since. “I think I am going to retire sometime within the next year,” said Lemon. “It was very nice ending my career with this. It makes me feel a little guilty about retiring but it is very nice.” Lemon resides in Keyser with husband, David.

They are the parents of one daughter, Mollie Altobello and husband Chris, also of Keyser. Lemon is expecting her first grandchild in October.

Besides teaching, Lemon enjoys being an Independent Southern Living consultant which she has been doing from her home for the past five years.


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