Student Affairs Hall of Fame to Honor Three

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College will honor the dedication of former employees and the impact of community members on the lives of students during this year’s Student Affairs Hall of Fame Awards Banquet. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in Colebank Hall.

Inductees are Debra Bates, Associate Registrar, who served from 1980-2011, and Michael Belmear, Vice President for Student Affairs, who served from 1978-2011. The 2012 Distinguished Citizen Award recipient is JoAnn Lough, Speech Communication and Theatre Professor Emerita of the Fairmont State University School of Fine Arts.

“The Student Affairs Office provides valuable services for students throughout their college years,” said Dr. Quentin Johnson, Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services. “These services include Welcome Weekend, counseling, crisis intervention, housing, multicultural affairs, career planning and placement, health services, mentoring, Student Government and other student activities. The Hall of Fame event has been designed to recognize the efforts of past employees and to encourage present employees to carry on the tradition of excellence.”

Tickets are $18 per person and can be secured by calling Sue Conrad at (304) 367-4643. Reservations must be made by Monday, Feb. 20.


Debra Bates

Debra Bates was a member of the Fairmont State and Pierpont community for many years, beginning her career in 1980 as a Records Assistant.

Her duties included preparing, sending and billing all campus transcripts. She also assisted faculty, students and the public. In addition, Bates certified athletic eligibility for all sports related activities under the NCAA and NAIA conferences.

Since 1995, Bates has held several positions including Records Officer, Program Coordinator and Associate Registrar. Her duties focused on conferring with students about their academic records and degree requirements, evaluating the records of graduation candidates and advising them of the results, processing the certifications of successful candidates, coordinating the arrangements for two commencement ceremonies each year and serving as the administrative assistant for the Registrar. She also was a counselor in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

For several years, Bates was a Veterans Representative and lead certifying official responsible for working with veterans attending FSU and Pierpont to help them through their GI benefits. She reviewed their schedules, certified they were making progress toward graduation and submitted required information so that they received their benefits. For many veterans, she was their “go to” person for help with problems.

Bates retired in 2011. She and husband, Gene, have one daughter, Sommer; son-in-law, Greg; and granddaughter, Maylee Jo. 


Michael Belmear

Michael Belmear began his career in higher education at West Virginia University working as the stack supervisor for the downtown main campus library from 1971 to 1974. He was then hired at WVU as an admissions counselor from 1974 to 1978 and was responsible for increasing minority enrollment. During that time, both overall university enrollment and minority enrollment increased.

Michael Belmear came to Fairmont State as a Student Affairs counselor in August 1979. In this position, he served as a counselor and recruiter. His duties were later expanded to include advisor to the Student Government and Student Activities programs. For 31 years, he was director of the New Student Orientation program, and he also created and directed the annual statewide Fairmont State and Pierpont Leadership Conference. In 1993, he was appointed Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and then served as Vice President for Student Affairs for FSU and Pierpont. His responsibilities included housing, multicultural affairs, disability services, student health service, counseling, student activities and development, career services and managing the Turley Center.

During his time at Fairmont State and Pierpont, Belmear worked to get Student Government executive officers paid, created the statewide student leadership conference, expanded the New Student Orientation program, created the Fairmont State and Pierpont Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series, served as Vice President for the Governor’s Commission on the Holocaust, created the Student Affairs Hall of Fame, organized and helped create the exchange program with the University of Calabria in Italy including a Summer Exchange Camp for high school students from Italy and created the Diversity Scholars Camp for minority students.

Throughout his professional career, he was selected as the Classified Staff Employee of the Year in 1995, elected President of The WV Association of Student Personnel Administrators, received the West Virginia Association of Student Personnel Distinguished Service Award, received The City of Fairmont Arts and Humanities Commission Patron of the Arts Award and was selected as the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival 2009 Honorary Italian Man of The Year.

Belmear is a native of Fairmont and earned his B.A. degree in Public Relations and M.A. in counseling and guidance from West Virginia University. He taught undergraduate classes in Developmental Psychology; Abnormal Psychology; Race, Class and Gender; and Empowering Leadership. He and his wife Robin live in Morgantown and have two sons, Michael and Andrew. He enjoys golf and is an avid reader.


JoAnn Lough

JoAnn Lough is a Speech Communication and Theatre Professor Emerita of the Fairmont State University School of Fine Arts. A long-time resident of Fairmont, Lough graduated from Fairmont State College and West Virginia University. She also pursued doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh with further advanced studies at West Virginia University, McGill University and at Tulane. In 2006, Lough was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Fairmont State.

In 1952, Lough began her teaching career at Rivesville High School. Coming to Fairmont State in 1955, she first served as Assistant Professor of English, Speech and Drama. For most of her tenure, she was Associate Professor of Speech Communication and Theatre, the disciplines having undergone title changes over the years. Upon the 1967 retirement of Lawrence A. Wallman as Speech and Drama Department Chair, Lough became Acting Chair and then from 1968 to 1973 served as Department Chair. The Department became part of the Fine Arts Division with Lough serving as Coordinator until 1978. She continued as Director of Theatre until 1985.

An innovator, in 1960 Lough directed “The Reluctant Debutante,” a pilot show to test community-college summer theatre need. The next summer, Wallman and Lough established the Masquers Town and Gown Players, the first summer theatre of its kind in West Virginia.

Many summer firsts followed for Lough. In 1969 she directed “Mary, Mary,” the first show presented in-the-round and the first show in the new community-purchased red and white vinyl tent. She was first to establish a Players community-college Board of Directors, first to secure a West Virginia Humanities grant to salary a Players resident company, first  to secure bus tours as audiences and first to have the Players seasons listed in the New York Times Drama section.  

In addition, her summer work included directing 22 other plays along with costuming, make-up, lighting, properties, stage, house and business management, box office, programs, promotion and acting.

Later Fairmont State received the Blanche Kinney Fine Arts Endowment, the largest in its history. Kinney gave it in appreciation of the Masquers Town and Gown Players summer theatre seasons. The Players felt they had earned their first “million.”

As Chair and/or Theatre Director, Lough’s additional innovations included: directing the Masquers first musical “The Boyfriend” (1969); establishing new courses in speech and theatre, totaling 16, revising catalogue entries; directing  “Camelot” (1967), the first show on the new Wallman Hall  stage; establishing the first costumer and children’s drama positions (1968); and  first arranging for a Masquers play to enter the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival.

In 1979, Lough arranged for FSC’s first Artist-in-Residence. The Actor’s Equity Erik Fredrickson residency went to FSC grad and former faculty member Fred Miller and included teaching stage combat, choreographing and directing sword fight scenes and  appearing as Claudius in the Lough-adapted and directed “Hamlet.” Miller later became Michigan University Theatre Department Chair.

During the regular semesters, she accumulated 36 directing credits for major productions, participating in the same work/teaching for summer theatre. Her course loads have included acting, directing, public speaking, etc., along with coaching intercollegiate competitions in debate and the local M.M. Neely Endowed Oratory Contest (Persuasive Speaking Contest). 

Lough holds 36 directing credits for the Masquers, including “The Boyfriend” (1959), the first Masquers musical, and “Camelot” (1967), the first show on the new Wallman Hall stage.

Fairmont State has awarded Lough the 1992 Faculty Achievement Award; 1993 Presidential Lecture and Occasional Paper, “A Legacy: Cause and Effect;” 1997 Foundation Fellow, $4,500 grant to develop Masquers Archives; 1998 Outstanding Alumna; 2008 Masquers and Alpha Cast; Alpha Psi Omega Appreciation Award 2008.

Since retirement, Lough has been archiving 80 years’ worth of Masquers theatre memorabilia and has helped establish the Masquers Costume Collection of some 10,000 period items.

A champion of historic preservation, she was instrumental in creating the Pierpont Room and the 1865 Room in the former dining hall on the Fairmont State campus.

She is a member of the Marion County Historical Society, the City of Fairmont Historic Landmarks Commission and the Prickett’s Fort Memorial Foundation. Among her efforts to preserve and promote local history are the following: placing Woodlawn Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places; the creation of Julia Pierpont Day, now recognized by the city, county and state; leading a grass-roots movement to save the Marion County Jail; acquiring six Civil War Trails markers for the city and leading bus tours for same; developing the West Virginia Historic Highway marker for Fairmont’s David Morgan Memorial Bridge.

Also included in these efforts are numerous articles, speeches and the creation and presentation of one-woman shows portraying Mary Rose Keneade, Julia Pierpont and Aunt Sukey: The Witch of Marion County. Local and state awards include 2006 West Virginia History Hero, Morgantown Dominion Post 100 Most Influential People for 2006, Marion County Tourism Person of the Year 2010, 2010 Preservation Alliance of West Virginia Award for the Most important Save in West Virginia (county jail).