Inside Dr. Raymond Alvarez’s healthcare management classroom in Jaynes Hall, the walls are decorated with storyboards showcasing photos and written articles that depict the history of healthcare and education in the local community.
“My theory is that if I’m teaching healthcare courses to students in a setting where they can see the artifacts that I have as part of their environment, then it will help them understand why a topic we are covering is relevant today based on how it was in the past,” said Alvarez, a retired healthcare executive.
For Alvarez, a Fairmont native who now serves as both the Healthcare Management Program Coordinator and a visiting professor at Fairmont State, preserving history is not just a teaching method, but also a personal interest aimed at cultivating cultural tourism in his hometown. Alvarez has published 18 articles in the WV Department of Culture and History’s Goldenseal Magazine, and his historical research spans topics from the civil war and the coal industry to women leaders and the evolution of Fairmont State’s role in education, to name a few.
In recognition of his efforts, the City of Fairmont and the Marion County Commission signed a resolution earlier this fall designating Alvarez as the official historian of Fairmont-Marion County, West Virginia.
“I’m very appreciative of this special award, but I’ve never considered myself a historian,” said Alvarez. “I like to think of myself as a researcher. I enjoy uncovering compelling stories and bringing them to life.”
It is Alvarez’s hope that projects paying homage to the region’s rich cultural heritage will bring curious visitors to the Fairmont area who come to learn but stay to eat and play, partaking in the community’s local attractions. Later this month, Fairmont State students will present the idea for one such project in coordination with the Frank and Jane Gabor Folklife Center and the Appalachian Teaching Project funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission. The project aims to encourage heritage tourism by providing audio stories about locally significant individuals who are buried at Marion County’s historic Woodlawn Cemetery.
“I enjoy getting people to work together on shared ideas,” said Alvarez, who sits on Woodlawn Cemetery’s Board of Directors. “That’s the fun part.”
Alvarez has also done extensive research on Fairmont State’s beginnings as the Fairmont Normal School located in downtown Fairmont through its transition to the present-day location as the campus on the hilltop of Locust Avenue. His findings can be publicly viewed at https://library.fairmontstate.edu/fns.
“As Fairmont State’s and the county’s resident historian, Dr. Alvarez’s love of history permeates his life and, in turn, the lives of the students he touches,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “It is this type of passion and dedication that students seek as they make Fairmont State University their destination of choice. I am grateful he is part of the Falcon Family.”