Kennedy Barn Project Receives Second Major Donation

Thursday, March 31, 2005

The West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University will have a new named classroom, thanks to a pledge received by the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc., through the generosity of Sharon Hiltz Romino of Fairmont.

The Fairmont State Foundation is raising money to renovate the former Kennedy Barn/Colonial Apartments building on the west side of the FS campus so that it may become the permanent home of the Folklife Center. The renovated facility will include a great room, a gallery and reception area, as well as space for offices and archival storage.

“The Fairmont State Foundation is very excited to announce Sharon Hiltz Romino’s generous pledge for the rehabilitation of the Kennedy Barn/Colonial Apartments into the West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State,” said Patty Pitrolo, Director of Major Gifts for the FS Foundation.

“Sharon’s gift will make it possible to construct a classroom to be used in the folklore studies academic program. We are pleased to acknowledge her gift with the naming of the Sharon Hiltz Romino Classroom to be located on the third floor of the Folklife Center at the Kennedy Barn. It is only through the support of generous people like Sharon that the new Folklife Center will become a reality.”

Born in Canada, Romino has lived in the U.S. nearly all her life as a permanent resident. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa., as well as a Master of Arts and doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia where she specialized in Chaucer and medieval literature. Her interest in West Virginia folklife is a natural outgrowth of her lifelong interest in Celtic legend and lore. Romino has served as an English faculty member at Fairmont State since 1986. She serves on the W.Va. Folklife Center Advisory Committee and has developed three courses – Arthurian Tradition, Medieval Literature and Comparative Mythology – that are part of the folklore studies curriculum.

“I’m not a West Virginia native; I’m a transplant, but deeply-rooted,” Romino said. “When I moved here in 1983, the first thing I bought was Ruth Ann Musick’s book ‘Coffin Hollow.’ I’m delighted to help with this campaign because I’ve enjoyed so much being a part of Fairmont State, and this is a small way to give something back.”

The W.Va. Folklife Center is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of the region’s rich cultural heritage, through academic studies, educational programs, festivals, performances and publications. The center is part of the FSU Department of Language & Literature.

“Sharon is my colleague and my friend, and I know she has a deep and abiding interest in culture and heritage,” said Dr. Judy P. Byers, Abelina Suarez Professor of English and Folklore and Director of the W.Va. Folklife Center. “I’m just so thrilled that she has given of her time and efforts to help us in this project.”

The Fairmont State Foundation, Inc., helps to secure resources for scholarships, faculty development, cultural programming and other needs. The Fairmont State Foundation is an independent, non-profit organization formed to assist Fairmont State by accepting and encouraging gifts and by using them to advance the missions of Fairmont State University and Fairmont State Community & Technical College. The Foundation is operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes.

Other naming opportunities for the Folklife Center are available. For more information on gift planning, call (304) 367-4014 or email at To make a gift online, click here

For more information on the West Virginia Folklife Center, call Judy Byers at (304) 367-4286 or e-mail her at