Fairmont State's 2010-11 Community Engagement Initiative "Put Your Best Fairmont Forward" was recognized by the NCAA as the "Best In the Nation" at the annual Division II Community Engagement Workshop on Thursday. The concept was planned and organized around Fairmont State's football game against West Liberty that was featured on live national television on CBS College Sports.
The Community Engagement Award of Excellence recognizes Division II institutions that successfully “build bridges” with the communities in which they are located. The commitment to help member institutions build stronger civic relationships is a central part of the Division II philosophy. Schools are expected to document their engagement concept and submit it to the NCAA to be judged. (Read FSU's official submission (PDF) and accompanying movie.)
For the second-straight year, Fairmont State's Community Engagement initiative was judged as best in the conference. FSU then went against winners from 16 other conferences and was judged to be the best in the nation.
"This national award reflects one of the core values of NCAA Division II, which is to engage the community to create a positive experience for everyone involved," said Mike Racy, Vice President of Division II. "We were particularly pleased to see that Fairmont State has made community engagement a top priority for the school and athletic department. We congratulate the school as well as the community for coming together to create such a wonderful event."
"We are extremely proud to be recognized in this way," said Rusty Elliott, director of athletics. "This recognition just proves that the Fairmont community and Fairmont State are an unbelievable combination. We would not have been in the running for this award if the community had not come out and been behind us."
"I am very excited that Fairmont State and the community of Fairmont can celebrate this award together," said Adam Zundell, FSU Director of Athletic Media Relations and Marketing, who helped organize the initiative. "A lot of different people and organizations came together to help us pull this off, and I am so thankful to everyone that contributed. This honor goes to show how strong we can be as a university and as a community when we all pull in the same direction. My hope is that we can continue to build this support not just for one football night a year, but many other nights and evenings to help continue to bring Fairmont and Fairmont State closer together."
Elliott and Zundell were awarded the championship trophy in Indianapolis on Thursday.