A dedication ceremony celebrating the completion of the 2019 Senior Campaign will kick off Fairmont State University’s 2021 Homecoming festivities at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, October 7 on the Education Quad.
The ceremony will recognize the successful efforts of the Class of 2019 to “Beautify the Bell.” Thanks to the campaign, the Victory Bell, which has been an iconic feature on Fairmont State’s campus for more than eight decades, is now surrounded by a seating area where students can congregate.
"When the SGA executive board was thinking of ideas for the focus of our campaign, the first thing that came to mind was the Bell. The Bell is a historic part of our campus and history we felt wasn’t being honored in the way it should be,” Raychel Fitzwater, former acting Student Government Association president, said at the campaign’s kick-off event in 2019.
Current SGA President Zach Taylor echoed Fitzwater’s sentiments and looks forward to seeing his classmates take advantage of the newly enhanced communal space.
“The Student Government Association is overjoyed to be able to complete this project. It has been a long time coming, and we’ve had a lot of setbacks, but we are happy to be giving back to our campus,” said Taylor. “It may seem like a small gesture, but anything that makes the campus a little homier is worth doing. The bell has been a part of the Fairmont State campus for so long, and we firmly believe we need to do everything we can to maintain and even improve this longstanding staple.”
As told by retired professor of speech communication and theatre, JoAnn Lough, and alumna Linda Morgan, Class of 1966, the City of Fairmont presented the bell to what was then the Fairmont State Teachers College at an assembly sponsored by the Lettermen’s Association (today the Fairmont State Athletic Association), on October 1, 1940. It was given the name “Old Boaz,” likely in honor of Boaz Fleming, the founding father of Fairmont.
In its early days, the bell was rung to announce athletic victories. Today, it is a symbol of school spirit shared by various student groups and organizations across campus that paint the bell as a form of expression and communication.
“This great institution has deep roots to the past, but visitors – and, sometimes, even our own campus community – are unaware of our rich history,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “The Victory Bell is a symbol of our closely-knit community – it has been rung in victory, held silent during wars, and then sounded again to ring in peace. The Beautify the Bell Senior project not only keeps that history alive, but it also adds a comfy gathering spot on our cozy quad, already a popular ‘hang-out’ spot for our Falcon Family.”
To view a photographic history of the bell over the years, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/fsunow/photos/bell.