Skip To Top Navigation Skip To Content Skip To Footer
Fairmont State announces Dr. Michael Davis as President-elect Impact
Fairmont State News

Fairmont State announces Dr. Michael Davis as President-elect

After a special meeting of the Fairmont State University Board of Governors, the Board voted to select Dr. Michael Davis as its president-elect. Davis and three other finalists, Rocco Fucillo, Bill Phillips, and Rosemary Thomas visited campus for several days in mid-April. 

“I want to commend our search firm, Buffkin/Baker, on providing us a long list of high-quality candidates from across the country,” said Board Chairman Rusty Hutson. “We wanted someone who had an academic background, would be dynamic in our community, a relationship builder for our faculty and staff, someone our students would love and someone able to build partnerships in Charleston and within industry. We received more than 300 candidate feedback forms from employees, students, alumni and the community. After thorough review and consideration of all comments we are confident in Dr. Davis and look forward to working with him soon.”

After a nearly two-hour executive session, the Board came back into public session, held open discussion and then cast their votes. As part of the motion, the Board also gave contract negotiating authority to Hutson. Pending successful negotiations and approval from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Davis will officially begin on July 1. 

“As this search concludes, I want to thank our tri-chairs, Jennifer Kinty, Kevin Rogers and Chuck Shields, our entire search committee and all that participated in this process,” said Hutson. “I also want to thank Dr. Dianna Phillips and her leadership team for not just keeping the University stable over the last year but pushing us forward.”  

Davis comes to Fairmont State from James Madison University (JMU) where he served as the Chief of Staff. In this role he manages JMU’s presidential priorities and directs matters of policy and institutional importance, including strategic planning, institutional research, and accreditation. His executive leadership grew from his commitment to students. 

Prior to his current role, Davis served as a faculty member and Director of Debate in JMU’s School of Communication Studies. With debate coaching experience spanning more than 25 years, Dr. Davis leveraged alumni and external grant support to elevate JMU’s Madison Debate society to one of national renown. Dr. Davis previously taught communication studies and coached debate at Georgia State University, University of Georgia, University of Rochester, University of Louisville, Mercer University, and Syracuse University. 

As a first-generation undergraduate student, Davis learned early the importance of academic mentors and campus support. He strives to address the holistic needs of today’s diverse students while reducing barriers. His approach to leadership is rooted in his experience in civil discourse, deliberation, and debate—experience that instilled in him the value of welcoming diverse opinions. 

Davis’ expertise in leading curricular innovation and crafting international student and faculty opportunities will be used well at Fairmont State. In his international programming efforts and travels abroad while at JMU, Dr. Davis conducted programming with universities and government agencies in Rwanda and Kosovo. He secured formal partnerships offering high-impact opportunities that facilitate compelling enrollment and programmatic co-curricular prospects for students and faculty alike. 

While at JMU, Davis cultivated productive relationships with city and county officials, administrators at neighboring institutions, business leaders, elected officials, and statewide commissions and task forces. His community relations experience expands campus boundaries for the symbiotic benefit of both campus and community. In his spare time, his community involvement includes volunteer leadership with the United Way of Harrisonburg-Rockingham County, Any Given Child Shenandoah Valley, On The Road Collaborative, Harrisonburg Education Foundation, Harrisonburg Little League Association, and Girl Scout Troop 82. 

Davis is and will always be a communication studies scholar. As such, he relishes the opportunity to translate his academic experience in public discourse to unequivocally support student success. Mike Davis earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Georgia. He also holds a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication and Rhetorical Studies from Syracuse University. His academic research interests center women in the Civil Rights Movement, debate pedagogy, presidential rhetoric, and argumentation and advocacy. 

For more information on the Fairmont State Presidential Search process please visit

Michael DavisPresidential ElectPresidential Search