Gilmer outlines vision for West Virginia University at Parkersburg

Photo by Brett Dunlap West Virginia University at Parkersburg Board of Governors Vice Chair Donna Smith listens to new WVU Parkersburg President Chris Gilmer give his first President’s Report before the board since taking office six weeks ago. Gilmer outlined his plans for the school.

PARKERSBURG — The new president at West Virginia University at Parkersburg outlined his vision for the institution during his first Board of Governors meeting Wednesday.

President Chris Gilmer addressed the Board of Governors for the first time since taking office six weeks ago.

“Thank you for the best six weeks of my career,” he said during his President’s Report before the board. “Every moment in this new role has been an absolute joy.

“Finally, I understand what Mark Twain meant when he said: ‘Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never work a day in your life.”

Gilmer told the board his top priorities will be to maintain the safety of the campus and to maintain a strong fiscal condition. He also plans to determine the optimum size of the student population relative to the university’s fiscal, physical plant and human resources and relative to the needs of WVUP’s service area.

He highlighted WVU-P’s position in the state as the only community college, which is also a bachelor’s degree-granting university.

“We expect the fall 2018 to be among the highest enrolling community colleges in West Virginia and to have a higher enrollment than several other university campuses,” he said.

Gilmer highlighted the large turnout for the university’s Early College Program last week of parents and high school students.

He announced the retainment of Keith Gaskin for the next week, which is being funded by the WVU Parkersburg Foundation, to instruct and advise university officials in the best practices related to fundraising and marketing to rebuild the school’s Office of Institutional Advancement. This will be one of his other top priorities.

“Dr. Gaskin will contextualize the strengths and untapped opportunities of WVU Parkersburg’s fundraising and marketing potential within a national context,” Gilmer said.

Gilmer highlighted the push WVU-P has made through social media. Students today get a lot of their information and news through social media, he said.

“…it is our job to meet them where they are, to blend old ideas with new technologies,” he said.

Gilmer said he is getting out to the university’s service area, speaking to groups and organizations. He is meeting with local school superintendents to explore ways the university can serve this area.

During Nov. 8-10, WVU-Parkersburg will host the second national convening of The National Institutes for Historically-Underserved Students.

The organization is something Gilmer started two years ago in Colorado. It brings together educational leaders, philanthropists, civil rights leaders, business and industry leaders, students and others to consider ways which America’s higher education system can better serve all students.

“If all goes well, this will perhaps be the most distinguished and diverse group of educational leaders ever to visit our campus and community,” Gilmer said.

He stressed that the university will not pay for this meeting. They are receiving funding from the WVU Parkersburg Foundation to underwrite the costs.

“All participants must volunteer their time and are not paid,” Gilmer said, adding some may need deferment of travel costs.

This fall, students will return to the abolishment of the requirement for parking permits; the refurbishment of the nursing skills lab with state of the art technology; development of a criminal justice crime scene lab; creation of a mock courtroom for the criminal justice and legal studies students; and a robotics course.

Gilmer will be traveling to Washington, D.C., Sept. 6-9 to meet with the American Association of Community Colleges.

“Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to serve this great institution, and together I have every confidence we will elevate it to even greater heights,” he said.