Guest essay: Picking WVU’s next prez

by Patrice Harris

Dear West Virginia University Community,

The West Virginia University Board of Governors has begun the process of selecting the next president of our beloved university. This is a pivotal moment for West Virginia University. Choosing a president is a monumental responsibility and the board is committed to a collaborative process as we embark upon this search.

As chair of the Ad Hoc Governance Committee, I am deeply committed to sharing regular updates with the WVU community, so you are informed of the process and the work that lies ahead. In March, the Board of Governors approved the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for BOG Governance Rule 1.3 – Presidential Selection, Contracts, and Evaluation.  WVU will post public comments received and an amended version of BOG Governance Rule 1.3 a minimum of 10 days in advance of its next Special Meeting. During the week of May 6, there will be a Special Meeting of the Board of Governors to approve the final version of BOG Governance Rule 1.3 – Presidential Selection, Contracts, and Evaluation.

I announced the composition of the Search Committee at the Board of Governor’s meeting on April 12. The committee will include members from the following constituencies: the Board of Governors, faculty, staff, students, academic deans, athletics, WVU Medicine, WVU Foundation, WVU Alumni Association, Regional Campuses, as well as a member(s) at-large to ensure we have input from diverse perspectives. Over the next several weeks, the Ad Hoc Governance Committee will work with the above constituency groups to develop a slate of nominees and make a recommendation to the full Board for endorsement. We will share information about the nominating process for the committee, role responsibilities and the time commitment required for members of the committee over the next few days.

The Ad Hoc Governance Committee has also outlined a general timeline for the presidential search. Key milestones include the selection of the search firm, naming of the Search Committee members and officially opening the application process. As we move through the next several months, we will continue to update you on key milestones and the timeline. Please note that the dates on the timeline may be adjusted.

The Board of Governors believes it is critically important to hear from the university community as to the experience, areas of expertise and qualities our next president should possess. To that end, the Search Committee will be holding several listening sessions throughout the summer. Both in person and virtual options will be available. The committee will also be distributing an online survey to gather input. We will release a schedule and instructions on how to participate by late spring. I strongly encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to share your perspectives.

Finally, we know there is great interest in the search and its progress. To share critical information as well as gather important feedback, we have launched a website,, where you can find the timeline and additional information. Please also watch MOUNTAINEER E-News, Unews and the Alumni Newsletter for updates in the coming months. As we move through the search process, updates will be disseminated through these and other channels to keep you informed. However, if at any time you have concerns or questions, please email us at [email protected].

As the work progresses to select our next president, I encourage each of you to be engaged in the process. Your input and viewpoints are welcomed and valued. I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks and months.

Patrice Harris is chair of the Ad Hoc Governance Committee for the WVU Board of Governors.