A Special Assignment: Interim President Fairmont State University

Across the forty-four years since earning my forestry bachelors degree, I have been blessed by unbelievable opportunity and good fortune. These past 12 months have led me to publish two books (the second scheduled for release mid-summer) and create and launch Great Blue Heron, LLC. Now another alignment of serendipity and fortuity! Effective late July 1, 2017, I will serve through December, 2017, as Interim President, Fairmont State University (http://www.fairmontstate.edu/) in Fairmont, WV. Fairmont State is a regional public university a little less than 100 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA.

MISSION STATEMENT: The Mission of Fairmont State University is to provide opportunities for individuals to achieve their professional and personal goals and discover roles for responsible citizenship that promote the common good.

VISION STATEMENT: Fairmont State University aspires to be nationally recognized as a model for accessible learner-centered institutions that promote student success by providing comprehensive education and excellent teaching, flexible learning environments, and superior services. Graduates will have the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind necessary for intellectual growth, full and participatory citizenship, employability, and entrepreneurship in a changing environment.

The FSU campus lies about 1,000 feet above sea level where the Tygart and West Fork Rivers join to form the Monongahela, which meets 128-miles downstream (and north) with the Allegheny to form the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. The area is rich in human and natural history. Located in the Western Allegheny Plateau geographic province, Fairmont lies fifty or so miles west of Maryland’s Allegheny Highlands and the eastern continental divide, one of my favorite places on the planet! My first two collegiate summers, I worked in that region on the Savage River State Forest, 30 miles west of my home in Cumberland, MD.

Even as I engage fully in leading FSU, I will relish the gift of re-immersion in the cultural and natural environments that return me (body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit) back home! I pledge my all to stewarding FSU, and to viewing my natural and cultural home through the lens of 66 life-years. I likewise promise myself to LOOK, SEE, FEEL, and ACT with the wisdom and inspiration I derive from Nature! I will draw strength, intention, and emotion through fresh eyes (really, all my senses). My approach to leading FSU as an interim president: purpose-driven; passion-fueled; results-oriented.

I am eager for this journey to begin. Bernard Malamud (The Natural) said through his lead character: “We have two lives to live… the life we learn with and the life we live after that.” Granted, I will continue to learn, yet I also view this interim presidency as a critically meaningful facet of my second life! I am grateful to the Board and University for selecting me. I promise to return dividends to FSU, my GBH clients, readers of my books and blogs, and to me and my family. I am already a better person — buoyed by the inspiration of the challenge; humbled by the responsibility to lead yet another team.