The Fairmont State University campus community gathered on Wednesday, Aug. 12, to dedicate a garden space in honor of a retired employee who spent decades serving students and has endowed a scholarship to create a lasting legacy.
“At Fairmont State University, we believe that students are our first priority, and it is a pleasure to honor one of our retired employees who spent her career here assisting students,” said FSU President Maria Rose. “We would like to thank Janice Watts for her many years of service and for making a generous donation to the Fairmont State Foundation that will fund a student scholarship making it possible for adult students to complete their degrees.”
The garden space near the entrance of the Turley Student Services Center will feature a plaque naming that area the Janice Watts Living Garden. A Dedication Ceremony took place at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12. Rose; Gary K. Bennett, Interim President of the Fairmont State Foundation; and Janice Watts and her husband Royal attended, along with faculty and staff.
Janice Watts began her career at Fairmont State in 1987 as a casual worker and became a full-time employee in 1994. Before retiring in January 2015, she served as the academic advisor for about 100 students enrolled in the Regents Bachelor of Arts degree program. In this position, she demonstrated an empathetic understanding of the concerns faced by many adult students and often served as an advocate on their behalf. She also has been secretary for Leadership Marion since 1994.
“Janice has worked tirelessly with the RBA program students. She understands the importance of an education and has worked very hard to ensure these students are successful in completing their degrees,” Bennett said.
During her retirement reception in January 2015, Watts and her husband Royal and their daughter, Lara Marie Gladding of Potomac Falls, Va., announced that the family was donating $10,000 to the Fairmont State Foundation to endow a new scholarship to aid adult students. Watts said she really enjoyed working with adult students.
“I treated them as if they were my own. There were a lot of happy times,” she said.
Watts said she always encouraged adult students to participate in Commencement.
“Many students would say to me, ‘If you’re going to be at graduation, I want you to meet my family.’ It was fun,” she said.
Watts was named Classified Employee of the year in 2009. During the awards banquet, a member of the event planning committee read the following statement: “Janice treats students as respected individuals and does whatever she can to help them meet their goals. She places her service to students as a high priority and with high integrity and high standards for herself. We are fortunate to have her at our institution.”
Watts also is the designer of the flag for the City of Fairmont that flies over the J. Harper Meredith Building and the Gateway Connector. She is an active member of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and the United Methodist Women.
Watts and her husband Royal reside in Fairmont. They have one daughter, three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.
The Regents Bachelor of Arts degree is a flexible program that provides adult learners the opportunity to turn life experience into course credit, if that experience is generally equivalent to a college course. For more information about the RBA Program at Fairmont State, call (304) 367-4709. Other resources for adult learners can be found at the state’s free college and career-planning web site at www.cfwv.com.
For more information about the Fairmont State Foundation, Inc., visit www.fsufoundation.org or call (304) 534-8786.