Many West Virginia University alums will share fond memories of their time in Morgantown and identify experiences that changed their way of looking at the world. George Simms, a 2006 graduate of WVU s interior design program, certainly falls into that category.
In fact, Simms was so taken with the community that WVU calls home that he chose it as the home for his business, George Simms Interiors.
Morgantown has given me everythingan education, a place to work, a place to play,Simms explained.
A Marion County native, hes learned to divide his loyalty between his birthplace and the setting for his education.
Simms focuses primarily on residential design, enjoying the flexibility of style and needs the projects present. But some of his educational experiences at WVU have left him with an interest in historical restoration and a commitment to community service.
Simms has donated Scalamandré fabrics for the wall panels, valuable reproductions of elegant, 19th-century silks, to the effort to restore the Metropolitan Theatre in downtown Morgantown. The decision was prompted by Simmss interaction with another WVU graduate, Vivien Woofter, president of the Metropolitan Foundation. Woofter, a 1952 graduate of WVU , worked as the director of the Interior Design Division of the U.S. Department of States Overseas Buildings Operations until her retirement in 2004. She is presently on contract to the State Department for the historic restoration of the George C. Marshall Center in the Hotel de Talleyrand, part of the U.S. Embassy complex in Paris, France.
In addition to designing the interiors of U.S. Embassies around the world, she has made considerable contributions to her alma mater, contributing to the design of the WVU presidents home, Blaney House, and assisting with the development of a multi-disciplinary graduate certificate in cultural resources management.
She has also provided educational experiences for students in the interior design program.
Simms heard about her during study abroad in Rome, which included a tour of the U.S. Embassy there, one of the projects she was responsible for during her tenure, and one of the State Departments most valuable Culturally Significant Properties. Their paths also crossed during one of the interior design programs many visits to the Met to see the restoration unfold.
Its amazing to see the Met come back to life,Simms said.Its been a phenomenal amount of effort for people.
Students in WVU s interior design program routinely undertake service learning activities. Senior projects often focus on improving facilities for not-for-profit agencies in the region. The altruistic bent left a strong impression on Simms, as did the work behind the Met restoration.
But Simms sees a desire to contribute to the community as a natural extension of a WVU education.
Its not like you just go to WVU ; you go to Morgantown.
And sometimes you stay.