During the Faculty Recognition event on May 2, Dr. Erica Harvey, Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science and Technology, was awarded the 2018 Abelina Suarez Professorship.
Five other Fairmont State University faculty members were nominated for the high honor:
- Dr. J. Robert Baker, Professor, Senior Level, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Language and Literature, and Director of the Honors Program;
- Dr. Mark Flood, Professor of Biology, and Coordinator of Forensic Biology, College of Science and Technology, Department of Natural Sciences;
- Dr. Debra Hemler, Professor of Geoscience, and Coordinator of Geoscience Education, College of Science and Technology, Department of Natural Sciences, and Graduate Faculty;
- Dr. Julie Reneau, Associate Professor of Special Education, and Director of the College Support Program for Students with Autism, School of Education, Health and Human Performance, and Graduate Faculty;
- Dr. Brian Wright, Assistant Professor of Music, and Coordinator of the Guitars for Vets Program, School of Fine Arts, Department of Music.
Dr. Erica Harvey joined the Fairmont State faculty in 1994 as an associate professor of chemistry and in 2002 was named full professor. From 2005-2007 she served as the interim chair of the department of biology, chemistry and geoscience and director of strategic planning and assessment from 2007-2010. Harvey has her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Wellesley College and her Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology.
As an Abelina Suarez Professor over the next five years, Harvey will convene a creative sustainability council on campus. Students, including rising freshmen, will be invited to propose to the Council sustainability initiatives for the campus and/or local community that integrate creativity, evidence-based science, strong design principles and fun. The seed money for chosen initiatives will be supplied through the professorship funding.
“All of my experience says that our students will rise to this challenge,” said Harvey. “I have seen it with our Solar Army, the implementation of cardboard recycling on campus, and the solar library initiative.”
A bequest by the estate of Abelina Suarez has been used to establish Fairmont State University’s first named professorship, which will carry her name and that of the discipline of the honoree. Honorees will carry the title in perpetuity, but a new award will be made every five years. The presentation of this professorship is intended to recognize extended and continued excellence by a member of the University faculty. This year marks the fourth award of the professorship. Past recipients are Dr. Judy P. Byers in 2002, Dr. Connie S. Moore in 2007, Dr. Francene Kirk in 2013.
Abelina Suarez, who was born in 1910 in Spain but grew up in Anmoore, W.Va., was the first woman to graduate from Ohio University in a field called German chemistry. She was a math and science teacher in Harrison County for more than 30 years. She attended Fairmont State Teachers College in the 1940s and also earned a master’s degree in education from West Virginia University. Through her generosity and foresight, Suarez designated a portion of her estate to support educational opportunities at Fairmont State.