Christopher Gilmer named WVU-P president

The West Virginia Board of Governors on Monday voted unanimously to make Christopher Gilmer of Vicksburg, Miss., the next president of the university. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — Christopher Gilmer is the new president of West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

In a special meeting Monday, the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Board of Governors unanimously voted to make Gilmer the next president of the university.

The board voted after going into executive session for over two hours to discuss the matter.

”We were pleased there was a lively discussion concerning it,” Board Chairman Sam Winans said.

The board was considering four finalists, Chad Crumbaker of Parkersburg, Gilmer of Vicksburg, Miss., C. Jeffery Knighton of Marietta, Ga., and Ted Lewis of Knoxville, Tenn.

”This wasn’t easy, but we are pleased with our choice,” Winans said. ”We think Dr. Gilmer will do a great job.”

All four finalists were brought to the campus and interviewed by the board and other university faculty and staff.

Winans said a formal offer will be made to Gilmer and he has given indications that he will accept.

”Upon his acceptence, we will begin the wheels turning to get him up here,” he said. ”We hope to have him in place before the start of the fiscal year on July 1.”

Gilmer is the executive director of Alcorn State University in Vicksburg, Miss. He has also served as vice president for Academic Affairs and as professor of English at Adams State University. He holds an Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from East Central Community College, a Master of Arts in English from Mississippi College and a Bachelor of Science and doctorate in English from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Gilmer’s teaching and research interests focus on developmental education and bridging the liberal arts with cultural, contemporary and workplace relevance.

Gilmer has spent much of his career in the Historically Black Colleges and University system, in addition to serving as vice president for academic affairs and professor of English at Adams State University, the oldest Hispanic-serving institution in Colorado. He serves as volunteer vice president for academic and sponsored programs and oversees fundraising for competitive grants for the nonprofit Innovative Behavioral Services Inc.

With U.S. Department of Education funding, Gilmer founded the Research Alliance on Improving Schools in Mississippi, which is aimed at building a higher education pathway for rural students. He is also founder of the National Institutes for Historically Underserved Students.

It was Gilmer’s many years of experience that put him over the top.

”It is not that he had so much more than anyone else, it was a combination of personality, passion for the position, his experience at a couple of colleges that really dovetailed with us,” Winans said. ”He just struck a chord with the Board of Governors. We think he is the right person at the right time.”

He has extensive experience with small community colleges and bringing in around $75 million in grants to those institutions.

”That was extremely attractive to us,” Winans said. ”That is a trait we don’t have here right now.”

Officials hope Gilmer will be able to work to bring that kind of grant funding to WVU-P.

”If we can get that here, that would start programs we cannot even imagine at this point,” Winans said.

Board member and Search Committee Chair Donna Smith said she is pleased with the results of their work.

”I am very pleased with the end result,” she said. ”We look forward to welcoming Dr. Gilmer here and getting him to really know the people here.”

Smith said the search was a “very comprehensive and educational experience as a board member and her first presidential search.

”We had a lot of support from the staff, administration and faculty to get this done,” Smith said. ”It was a teriffic group of people. I could not have worked with a better group of people to make this happen.”

Winans commended the work Smith did for putting the time in and making sure they ended up with the right person.

Former President Fletcher Lamkin left the school Nov. 15 to become president of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. Jane Milley is serving as interim president for the second time, having filled in for a time before Lamkin came to the university.

Milley said she will make herself available to help Gilmer get settled in when he arrives. She has spent about two years at the institution.

”I want to help in any way I can,” she said. ”I know the institution quite well and I will do everything I can to help his transition.”

In her comments to the Board of Governors, Milley thanked them for letting her serve the university again.

”I have enjoyed my second tour of duty at WVU-P,” she said. ”This is a dedicated, caring and gracious community of faculty and staff and you have an exceptional Board of Governors.

”A part of me will always be here with you, and I will be watching and listening as you move through your future, with your students, to your next level of achievement.”

COMMENTS