Gnage to leave WVU-P in June

PARKERSBURG – The president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg will be stepping down from her position at the end of June.

Marie Foster Gnage announced Monday she would not renew her contract with the university after June 30, bringing an end to 10 years of service with the institution.

“My time at WVU-Parkersburg has been significant for me both professionally and personally,” Gnage said in a prepared statement Monday. “I’ve formed a deep connection to the community here. And while I will greatly miss the faculty, staff and students, I feel confident I am leaving the college in a better place than when I arrived.”

A special Board of Governors meeting was held last week where the board went into executive session to discuss personnel and property matters. Officials made no announcements following the executive session and no action was taken.

Gnage became the first female and the first African-American president of WVU-Parkersburg on July 1, 2004. She is the second-longest serving president for WVU-Parkersburg.

Under Gnage, WVU-Parkersburg expanded its main campus with additions of the Applied Technology Center and the Center for Early Learning and added the Downtown Center in Parkersburg; increased the number of bachelor degree programs from two to 12, and increased enrollment numbers to their highest level ever.

”I have tried at all times to serve the college and the community diligently and with integrity and dedication to excellence in teaching and learning,” Gnage said in a letter Monday to faculty, staff and students.

She has recently been looking at positions with other institutions across the country. Gnage was a finalist for the presidency of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, but lost out on that appointment.

Gnage has not announced what her plans will be after leaving WVU-Parkersburg.

The university has thrived under Gnage, said WVU-Parkersburg Board of Governors chair Gerard El Chaar.

“Her tireless efforts combined with a keen sense for making things happen have succeeded in making our institution the best it has ever been,” he said.

The board of governors has an interim president in mind who can take over at the end of June. The person, who has not been officially announced yet, is from within the school. The board will have to receive the approval of the state Community and Technical College Council in Charleston before the appointment can officially be made, El Chaar said.

The board will soon begin the nationwide search for the next president for WVU-Parkersburg. A search committee, made up of staff, faculty, students, alumni, people from the community and others, will soon be appointed.

El Chaar said Gnage told the board it would have no problem filling the position.

”Any top-notch candidate would be happy to be here,” he said.

They are hoping to narrow the seach to 3-5 qualified candidates with the appropriate background and skills to lead the university, El Chaar said.

Gnage’s impact on the community has been far reaching.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell commended Gnage with getting the downtown campus, including its culinary school, up and running, adding a needed presence to the downtown area.

”She has been a great college president who has been really involved,” he said. ”She has really added to this community.”

Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law said he was sorry to hear Gnage was planning to leave.

”We worked well together and met regularly,” he said.

He commended Gnage with starting programs that got high school students out to the campus, especially the Caperton Center, and allowed them to see that a college education was in their reach.

Jill Parsons, president of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, said the chamber has benefited from Gnage’s support.

Gnage sits on the chamber’s executive board as first vice chair, in addition to serving as an active member of the schools & business committee.

”Dr. Gnage has been a strong advocate for enhancing the relationship of WVU-P with the business community,” Parsons said. ”We have worked together to identify training opportunities for business owners, to identify gaps in workforce development to enhance the long-term viability of our local employee base, as well as to promote WVU-P as one of several great higher education venues in our community for area students.”