Fairmont State University Names Alicia Kalka as Interim Vice President of Student Success
Fairmont State University has named Alicia Kalka the Interim Vice President of Student Success, following the departure of former Vice President of Student Success Ken Fettig as he takes a new role at Saginaw State University in Michigan.
“Alicia is a passionate and committed advocate for Fairmont State and a tremendous leader who will help us explore the future of student recruitment, engagement and success at Fairmont State University,” Fairmont State President Mike Davis said. “As we enter into the beginning of the strategic planning process I am excited to have Alicia’s perspective and guidance as we re-envision what we can become.”
With an ardent belief in the strength and resilience of West Virginians—but also a concern over the state’s declining number of adults with college degrees—Kalka has made it her mission to boost those numbers. It’s not just about helping Fairmont State stabilize or increase enrollment, it’s about moving the needle toward an increase in post-secondary attainment.
Kalka backs her belief in the life-changing opportunities a college degree brings with statistics. According to the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities, college graduates earn approximately $1 million more than those with only a high school diploma.
One of Kalka's main duties as Interim Vice President of Student Success is to listen to parents’ concerns about their children attending college. Many talk about affordability, as well as the usual fears of their children going away to college.
For many of these parents, their children will be the first in their family to pursue a post-secondary education. Kalka is a fierce advocate for higher education, and even more so for first-generation students in West Virginia and across the country. As parents hear Kalka’s story, they begin to see a path for their own children’s college education.
As the first in her family to earn a four-year degree and later two master’s degrees, Kalka understands the unique challenges for high school students whose families haven’t experienced college. Born and raised in Charleston, W.Va., Kalka credits her mother, stepfather and grandmother with giving her the courage to leave home to attend West Virginia University (WVU). This was the beginning of her trajectory to her current position.
Recalling her own experience as the lone family member to attend college, Kalka recently introduced a new scholarship model that reduces financial barriers and eliminates standardized test scores as a barometer of success for students to attend Fairmont State.
“I know how hard it is to apply to college, to make the transition from high school, and then finish your degree,” Kalka said. “I was there, so I understand. I want to make sure we have a streamlined process for applying to Fairmont State, and support in place to assist students throughout their academic careers so they’re successful all four years.”
Kalka’s first experience as a mentor occurred while she was an undergraduate at WVU. During her sophomore year, Kalka applied for and was accepted as a resident advisor (RA) for Boreman North, a freshman residence hall. She continued her role as an RA through graduation and then through graduate school.
Kalka loved her role as RA and working with college students so much that she began to think of student services as a lifetime career goal. It would be a new path for her, one that had been previously focused on elementary education. As she fostered one-on-one relationships with college freshmen, Kalka refined her career goals to focus more on post-secondary education. After completing a master’s degree in elementary education, she completed a master’s in higher education administration.
In the 20-plus years since her time as an RA, Kalka has consistently worked in positions that bolster student success, starting with a position in housing and residence life at WVU.
In 2014, Kalka accepted the position of Director of Housing and Residence life, and Campus Judicial Officer at Fairmont State. In 2019, she was promoted to Executive Director for Residential Life, where she oversaw housing and residence life, student activities, student conduct, student organizations, Greek life, among others.
By 2021, Kalka was promoted to Assistant Vice President for Enrollment and Student Life where she was responsible for recruitment at Fairmont State’s Admissions and Welcome Center. Her position also required considerable involvement in many areas of student life and well-being.
Earlier this year, Kalka accepted the position of Associate Vice President in the same department. She continued her mission to help West Virginia high schoolers take the next step toward a four-year degree and encouraged those who started a degree to finish. Her newest role as Interim Vice President of Student Success addresses many of the issues that Kalka finds important, with college enrollment at the top of the list.
In addition to her work on campus and within West Virginia high schools, Kalka also spreads the word through editorials written for newspapers across the state. Her message: A college education is attainable, and we will help you achieve this dream.