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Fairmont State prepares for 155th Spring Commencement Impact
Fairmont State News

Fairmont State prepares for 155th Spring Commencement

Graduates at the 154th Fall CommencementFairmont State University will host its 155th Spring Commencement on Saturday, May 11. There will be three separate ceremonies taking place throughout the day. The first will be at 10 a.m. for the College of Business & Aviation and the College of Education, Health & Human Performance. The second will be at 1 p.m. for the College of Liberal Arts and Regents Bachelor of Arts Program. The third and final ceremony will be at 4 p.m. for the College of Nursing and the College of Science & Technology.

“Commencement is a culmination of these students' hard work and effort. It is a turning point in their lives. While one chapter is concluding, another exciting chapter is just beginning,” said President Mike Davis. “I look forward to celebrating the newest graduating class of Falcons and cheering them on as they leave Fairmont State and soar into the world.”

More than 400 Falcons are set to graduate during the May 11 ceremonies. This semester, commencement will feature two distinguished keynote speakers. At the 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ceremonies, attendees will hear from alumnus and West Virginia State Senator Ryan Weld. During the 1 p.m. ceremony, long-time Fairmont State staff member Michael Belmear will speak.

“We are fortunate to have not one, but two esteemed keynote speakers for this commencement,” said Davis. “We extend our gratitude to both Senator Ryan Weld and Michael Belmear for taking time to address our graduates during this momentous occasion.”

State Senator Ryan Weld is an accomplished leader with an impressive track record of service to his state and country. As the Majority Whip in the West Virginia State Senate, he manages legislative priorities and advances the state's interests. In addition, Weld has experience as Chair of the Military Committee and Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee.

Weld has served in the West Virginia Legislature since 2014. However, his commitment to public service began in 2005, when he was commissioned into the Air Force Reserve. In 2010 and 2011, Weld served as the Staff Intelligence Officer to the Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Zabul Province of southeastern Afghanistan. Prior to his time overseas, he served as the Executive Officer to the Director of Congressional Affairs of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Senator Weld began his legal career as an assistant prosecutor at the Brooke County Prosecutor's Office. He currently practices law in the Wheeling office of Spilman Thomas & Battle. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Fairmont State College (now University) in 2003, and a Juris Doctor from Duquesne University in 2015. He and his wife Alex reside in Wellsburg.

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

Belmear came to Fairmont State as a Student Affairs counselor in 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. 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, then served as Vice President for Student Affairs for Fairmont State and Pierpont. 

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, established the Fairmont State and Pierpont Celebration of Ideas Lecture Series, served as Vice President for the Governor’s Commission on the Holocaust, 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, created the Diversity Scholars Camp for minority students, and created the Student Affairs Hall of Fame.

Belmear is a native of Fairmont who earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a Master of Arts in counseling and guidance from West Virginia University. He has taught undergraduate classes in Developmental Psychology; Abnormal Psychology; Race, Class, and Gender; and Empowering Leadership. He retired from Fairmont State in 2011. He and his wife Robin reside in Morgantown.

Commencement ceremonies will be open to all guests and tickets will not be issued for entry. Those unable to attend may join virtually to view in real-time via an event Livestream. The link to the Commencement Livestream will be shared via social media and Fairmont State’s website at a later date.

Guests will have the opportunity to purchase celebration flowers before the ceremony outside of the main guest entrance. Items can also be pre-ordered by visiting Proceeds will benefit the Staff Council scholarship fund. 

Those traveling to campus for Commencement will need to keep the altered traffic pattern in mind during their commute. The Department of Public Safety and Physical Plant will re-route traffic on the day of Commencement and will only be allowing vehicles to enter campus from the Squibb Wilson Boulevard entrance to ensure smooth traffic flow. 

Officers and other attendants will be on hand to direct traffic and answer parking questions. Shuttle services will be available on campus to take guests to the Feaster Center. Shuttle pick-ups will begin one hour before each ceremony.

All graduates, university guests, and community members should expect traffic pattern and parking changes on campus and in the surrounding area. Those attending Commencement exercises are asked to remain patient when arriving on campus, as multiple ceremonies will be occurring on Saturday. Guests and graduates should consider carpooling when possible.

In addition to Saturday’s customs, the College of Nursing will hold its traditional pinning ceremony the evening before on Friday, May 10 at 6 p.m. in the Feaster Center. The Police Academy will also be holding a graduation ceremony, which will take place on Friday, May 10 at 11 a.m. in the Feaster Center.