A View of Fairmont State University’s Ecosystem

FSU’s Science and Technology Dean Don Trisel sent his drone with camera aloft 7:30 AM November 20. Looking north, the view captures campus and the hills beyond. Almost Heaven, don’t you think! A typical landscape of North-Central, Wild Wonderful West Virginia. Our “College on the Hill” campus rises some 300 feet from Locust Avenue in the foreground to the physical plant buildings at the distant-center tree line.

Shaw House, the President’s residence, where I have stayed for nearly five months, sits in the copse of trees in the upper left quadrant of the main campus. My office is in Hardway Hall (front-right), the long building with the columns. A beautiful campus in a grand location, one where I am at home and thriving. No wonder deer frequent my yard. The surrounding forest simply extends into our community.

The deer recognize no city boundary. They observe only the extent of suitable habitat and available browse. Resident squirrels, raccoons, ground hogs, opossums, and other critters pay no mind. Same for birds. For that matter, thunderstorm cells can’t discern forest from campus from downtown. They simple form, rumble, and move along with air currents. Likewise, the wind itself cares not, nor do clouds.

Season changes the temporal context, yet the physical location a month earlier stays fixed.

And, Fairmont State University is one with the community of man, a cog in the gears of the city and its human inhabitants. Yes, FSU is an organism, living and breathing literally and metaphorically, in this three dimensional social, economic, and environmental ecosystem. Nothing illustrates our place in the intricate structure better than an aerial photo. More broadly, we fall within the Monongahela River Basin ecosystem, expanded from there to encompass the Mississippi Basin, and from there to temperate North America, and from there to our One Earth. The latter perspectives are beyond the reach of a drone or even a jet at 30,000 feet. Instead, try a photo from a satellite in Earth-orbit:


Great Blue Heron views enterprises in the same way. What constitutes your ecosystem? See my web site for more about the approach. I could not have effectively led this university as Interim President if I had looked only inward. FSU does not exist in a vacuum, nor does any individual, business, or organization. The world that affects us lies beyond our campus edge… and far beyond that as well. We are all creatures of our social, economic, and environmental ecosystems.

I will find a way before I depart Fairmont to secure a first-hand aerial view from a small plane. Short of that, Don’s drone provided a surrogate. I’ve reviewed countless aerial photos over my practicing forester days. However, never has one been an adequate substitute for being airborne, cruising above the canopy, looking down, at liberty to scan where my eye and the flight take me. I assure you, I will take my camera along, and record fodder for a few more blog posts. My heart and soul soar with me as we dance on laughter-silvered wings!

Whether I am deep in the forest, hiking stream-side, pausing at an overlook, or flying high above the ground, I find beauty, magic, wonder, and awe in Nature’s bounty and God’s work.

Call me – we’ll examine your enterprise from an ecosystem perspective.