Fairmont State Honors Joshi Family for Contributions to Support International Students

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Fairmont State University emeritus faculty member and advocate for international students Dr. Tulasi Joshi and his wife Marilyn have committed significant funds to the University to support recruitment of international students. Fairmont State University is recognizing their gift by naming its international student office the Tulasi and Marilyn Joshi Office for Educational Pathways for International Centers & Students. 

“This gift from the Joshis will have a profound impact,” Mirta M. Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “Tulasi and Marilyn understand how energizing and mutually beneficial having a robust international student presence on campus can be. International students coming to Fairmont State will benefit from our close-knit Falcon Family and caring faculty, and our community profits from the global perspectives these students provide.”

Joshi said he hopes his gift will provide the chance for other international students like him to seek the dream of education and opportunity and provide the University with a broader global perspective. 

“We live in the global environment,” Joshi said. “International students help us to be competitive in the global economy and help to enrich Fairmont State University, the community and our world understanding.” 

“This is a remarkable gift that provides the University with funding to support the recruitment of students from across the world to study at Fairmont State,” said Julie Cryser, president of the Fairmont State Foundation. “These funds will ensure that Fairmont State remains a destination for those seeking an education from Fairmont to Kathmandu.”

Born in Tamakhani, Bajhang, a remote part of Nepal, Joshi completed his 10th grade education from Satyavadi High School of Bajhang.  

“I grew up high on the mountain side where the house of my childhood still stands and still does not have a heating system or running water,” Joshi said. His family cooked over an open fire and under a thatched roof, and there was no indoor plumbing. “I played with rocks and sticks as toys.”

After his 10th grade school year, Joshi had to travel to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to take the 10th grade board examination called the SLC (School Leaving Certificate) examination. It took 15 days to reach Kathmandu, 11 days on foot and four days by train and bus. 

Joshi remembers the difficulty he experienced as he struggled to receive an education. Students had to write on the back of used paper and often utilized wooden boards to learn the alphabet. He copied entire textbooks by hand because there weren’t enough books for all students, and he studied at night by burning pine kindling for light.

Despite the hardships, Joshi and four other classmates became the first group from the Bajrang district to take the 10th grade board examination and pass in 1957. Joshi stayed in Kathmandu to further his education but struggled. A friend from his village helped him by providing him a place to live, and he managed without any funds. 

“I would go to college after having the morning meal and come home in the evening. I would get hungry in the afternoon, but I did not have any money to buy a handful of soybeans, and I would drink some water,” he said.

Eventually Joshi received a master's degree in geography from Tribhuvan University of Nepal in 1963, and for his academic excellence, the King of Nepal awarded him a gold medal with a grand ceremony attended by cabinet ministers, academicians, literary figures and other distinguished guests.

He came to the United States to the University of Hawaii in 1964 under the East West Center Scholarship Program. He went on to earn a master’s from there in 1966 and earned his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972.

It was in 1972 that a professor recommended him for a job at Fairmont State University and he visited the campus and liked it. He worked for over 42 years as a professor of geography at Fairmont State University and is a life member and former treasurer of the Association of Nepalis in the Americas (ANA). 

He has been championing the education cause to empower deserving Nepali students thereby meeting the educational mission of ANA. He established scholarship programs for needy students of Bajhang for their higher education in Nepal, and for Nepali students for their undergraduate studies at Fairmont State University. He was instrumental in the establishment of the International Scholarship Program and the ANA-Tulasi & Marilyn Joshi Scholarhsip Program at Fairmont State. About 50 students have benefited from these scholarship programs. 

He also received the Cyrus R. Vance Award for International Education in West Virginia in 2003 among several other awards and recognitions, including honor and recognition from the United States president, Nepal’s president and the Association of American Geographers for his dedicated contributions to the field of geography.

Joshi met his wife, Marilyn, in Morgantown and they have been married for over 45 years. Mrs. Joshi is originally from Core, located about 20 miles north of Fairmont. She received her master's and bachelor's degrees from West Virginia University. She also has a certificate to teach gifted students. She is a retired teacher after teaching more than 30 years in the West Virginia school system.  

“She has been a source of inspiration for my passion and undertaking the educational endeavors,” Joshi said.