UPDATE: Interim WVU-P President Reflects On Her Six Months In Office

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Update 12/12/2014 4:00 P.M.

When Rhonda Tracy agreed to be interim president at West Virginia University at Parkersburg, she knew she would not be able to seek the post permanently. But her immediate concern was the need to address a number of immediate issues, some involving recent economic news.

In general, colleges and universities across the nation retain less than half of their freshman classes. wvu-p this fall has kept 70% of its first-semester students.

"We worked on our technical programs-we have a cracker plant coming into the area-so we developed specific strategies on how to engage businesses interested in that. We came up with a strategic plan to bring in a consultant to help us with that."

As has been the case with other institutions of its kind, enrollment at WVU-Parkersburg has declined in recent years. But Dr. Tracy says that's something the school believes it has prepared for.

"We put into place some specific ideas and strategies to address that. We had a lot of new people on board, tried new things, and we're all in this together to try to increase our enrollment, and we will, and we are. It is something that finally got our attention."

She believes incoming president Fletcher Lamkin will bring some new ideas, to continue what she has begun.

UPDATE: 12/10/2014 06:24PM

The West Virginia University at Parkersburg Board of Governors picks their top choice for the school's next president.

Fletcher Lamkin of Lane Osage Beach, Missouri is that top choice, out of five candidates.

The board named Rhonda Tracy as interim president in May after Marie Foster Gauge announced she was stepping down to become a regional president for Florida State College in Jacksonville.

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University at Parkersburg has named its next president.

Spokeswoman Katie Wootton says the university's Board of Governors voted unanimously to elect Fletcher Lamkin of Lane Osage Beach, Missouri.

Wootton says Lamkin is prepared to begin his new post in the beginning of January.

Lamkin has most recently has served as a higher education consultant and previously served in leadership roles at Kansas Wesleyan University, Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and West Point.

The board had named Rhonda Tracy as interim president in May after Marie Foster Gauge announced she was stepping down to become a regional president for Florida State College in Jacksonville.

UPDATE: 12/10/2014 06:00 PM

The West Virginia University at Parkersburg Board Of Governors has picked its choice for the school's next president.

The school is not releasing the name of that person yet.

Todd Baucher is at the Board of Governor meeting and will have a report as soon as it is released.

Stay tuned to WTAP News & TheNewsCenter.TV for the latest.

UPDATE: 12/10/2014 03:00 AM

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia University at Parkersburg is set to name its new president.

The university's Board of Governors is expected to select a president from a list of five finalists at its Wednesday meeting.

Candidates include: Paul Schreffler of Mill Creek; Harold Nolte of Brenham, Texas; Alan Roberts of Fort Pierce, Florida; James Conneely of Richmond, Kentucky.; and Fletcher Lamkin of Lane Osage Beach, Missouri.

The board named Rhonda Tracy as interim president in May after Marie Foster Gauge announced she was stepping down to become a regional president for Florida State College in Jacksonville.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

UPDATE 11/13/2014 11:20 AM

The search for West Virginia University at Parkersburg's next president is narrowed to five candidates.

The presidential search committee for WVUP met Wednesday, November 12, narrowing the applicant pool from 12 semi-finalists to five finalists.

The Board of Governors voted to bring all five finalists to campus for interviews.

The Board will vote to appoint the new president for WVU Parkersburg at its December 10 meeting.

The five finalists in alphabetical order are:

James Conneely of Richmond, Ky.
Fletcher Lamkin of Lane Osage Beach, Mo.
Harold Nolte of Brenham, Texas
Alan Roberts of Fort Pierce, Fla.
Paul Schreffler of Mill Creek, W.Va.

UPDATE 10/9/2014 9:40 AM

The presidential search committee for West Virginia University at Parkersburg narrowed applicants down to 12 semi-finalists Wednesday.

The candidates will be asked to submit videos, which will be reviewed by the committee in early November.

The candidates are:

James Conneely of Richmond, Ky.
Catherine Gatewood-Keim of Gladstone, Mich.
Mark Kinlaw of Lumberton, N.C.
Fletcher Lamkin of Lane Osage Beach, Mo.
Harold Nolte of Brenham, Texas
Alan Punches of Zanesville, Ohio
Alan Roberts of Fort Pierce, Fla.
Paul Schreffler of Mill Creek, W.Va.
George Sehi of Lebanon, Ohio
Sid Valentine of Indian Land, S.C.
Stephen Vacik of Colby, Kan.
Cornelius Wooten of Indiana, Pa.

The committee will meet on November 12 to select three finalists who will be invited to the campus for interviews.

The search committee plans to name the college’s new president by December 10.

The position has been vacant since Dr. Marie Foster Gnage left in late June.

UPDATE 6/26/2014 5:35 PM

One final good-bye to a Parkersburg president.

One who made a big difference on campus and in the community.

Doctor Marie Foster Gnage was the first African-American president of WVU-Parkersburg.

She started ten years ago and had a big impact on the school over the decade, with a focus on campus safety and beautification.

"It's been this journey that I've been on. To come to the college, to make a difference, but also to make a difference in the lives of the students.To make it a place that the students and the community could be proud of," says Dr. Foster-Gnage.

"One of the most important things that she has provided here on campus is a constant focus on the quality of services to students," says Anthony Underwood, Vice-President for Student Services at WVU-P.

WVU-P Thursday named Gnage president emeritus.

She is the school's second president after Dr. Eldon Miller to receive this designation.

Gnage helped create the Applied Technology Center and the Downtown Center location in Parkersburg.

Thanks to her the school now has twelve bachelor programs.

Before her there were only two.

Faculty and students agree, Gnage will be missed.

UPDATE 6/13/2014 3:10 PM

The community says goodbye to the first African-American woman to lead West Virginia University at Parkersburg.

A reception was held Thursday night in honor of President Marie Foster Gnage.

You might recall she announced back in April she's leaving.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell and state college officials were among those paying tribute to Dr. Gnage, who served as the school's president for a decade.

She is leaving WVUP to become president of Florida State College.

An interim president has been chosen, while the search for her permanent successor continues.

"Walking away from this is not easy. I figure that, on the day that I'm driving out of town, I probably will want to turn back around, and come back. It means that much to me," says Dr. Gnange

UPDATE 5/22/2014 9:50 AM

The interim president for West Virginia University at Parkersburg is announced.

Dr. Rhonda Tracy is selected by the school's board of governors.

She takes the position July 1, when current president Dr. Marie Foster Gnage leaves.

Gnage just announced she plans to take the president spot at a Florida college.

Dr. Tracy has been a part of WVU-P since 2007, as senior vice president for academic affairs.

The board comments on the decision saying, "Dr. Tracy has contributed greatly to the growth and success of WVU-Parkersburg."

UPDATE 5/20/2014 4:45 PM

We now know the next stop for the outgoing president of WVU-Parkersburg.

She's going to head a college in the sunshine state.

Dr. Gnage said in March she is leaving the school when her current contract ends in June.

On July 1, she becomes the new president of the downtown campus of Florida State College in Jacksonville.

She says that school has some similarities to WVU-P, in that it offers technical and adult basic education programs.

But it's also a much larger school than her current one, even though it's part of a much larger college system of 70,000 students.

"It's a comprehensive community college on one campus. But it's one of five colleges on the Florida State College-Jacksonville district. It's a campus within a full college," she says.

Dr. Gnage says the state of Florida, due to budget cuts, is putting less money into its colleges, a situation she says she's faced recently with West Virginia funding.

In spite of that, she says WVUP has been able to expand its campus with new building projects.

The college's board of governors is to meet Wednesday night to choose an interim president.

UPDATE 3/13/2014 4:35 PM

She says she planned to stay for five years.

But the president of WVU-Parkersburg is stepping down after a decade at the school.

Marie Foster-Gnage sat down Thursday for her first interview since the announcement Monday she is stepping down June 30.

She says the school is facing challenges, thanks to the first decline in enrollment in years and recent state budget cuts.

But she adds she doesn't expect that to affect employment.

"We're such a flat operation that it would be difficult to operate if we started dropping off positions like crazy," she says. "If we decided we were not going to fill some positions because they were open and we might actually combine some duties, that might happen."

Foster-Gnage hopes the Downtown Parkersburg Center continues to expand.

It opened last year with the start of the school's culinary center.

Before she leaves, she plans to be involved in the naming of an interim president.

Dr. Marie Foster Gnage has announced that she will not renew her contract after June 30. The Board of Governors is planning for an interim president and a nationwide search for Gnage’s replacement.

“My time at WVU Parkersburg has been significant for me both professionally and personally,” President Gnage said, in a statement released by the university. “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.”

After 2008 legislation changed the college from a regional campus of West Virginia University to a stand-alone community college, Gnage took measures to ensure that WVU Parkersburg would thrive as an independent institution. Throughout her tenure, she has provided leadership and support as

WVU Parkersburg has grown in the number of students, programs, buildings and locations.

“Although the college is losing a great leader, we certainly wish Dr. Gnage well on her future endeavors,” said WVU Parkersburg Board of Governors chair Gerard El Chaar in the college's statement. “Her tireless efforts combined with a keen sense for making things happen have succeeded in making our institution the best it has ever been.”

Gnage became the first female and the first African-American president of WVU Parkersburg in 2004. She is the second-longest serving president for WVU Parkersburg. In 2012, Gnage was elected to serve as Board Chair for the American Association of Community Colleges, becoming the first community college president from West Virginia to serve and to be elected to this national organization.

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