GLENVILLE, W.Va. — The man tapped to take over as the leader of Glenville State College in July wears his optimistic nature openly, but that has not illusioned him to the challenges that come with his new gig as the twenty-fourth President in Glenville State’s history.
“This is going to be a challenging position just because of some of the economic issues,” Dr. Tracy Pellett, the current Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the College of Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, Georgia, said in a phone interview Friday. “But I will tell you this–and I will say this pointedly–Glenville is not called the Pioneers for nothing. These are people that blaze a trail. They don’t follow the lead of others. They blaze their own trail.”
A former middle school teacher, Dr. Pellett said he has a number of goals set–and already knows the obstacles ahead of him–as he transitions into the role currently held by outgoing President Dr. Peter Barr.
“If you are living even 20 or 30 miles outside of Glenville and you are working a job and you’ve got three kids at home–unless you’ve got an option like an online option–you are not going to be able to come to school to better your family’s potential prosperity,” he said.
Broadband access has been a hot-button issue for several years in both the State Capitol and among West Virginia’s Congressional delegation. Pellett said, particularly for schools that serve highly rural communities, broadband access is a critical component to success moving forward.
“Broadband access will be critical to the economic development of that state,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind. Especially in the 21st century, it’s almost a prerequisite for greater growth and economic growth.”
There’s another form of access that Dr. Pellett considers vital for success at schools like Glenville State. He said communities that include large populations of students from families who have never attended college need not just increased access to higher learning, but a real plan for keeping costs low and fostering student success.
“You’re going to see me,” he said. “You’re going to see Glenville State out in these communities actively encouraging and creating pathways to getting students enrolled.”
West Virginia’s rate of students with undergraduate degrees and advanced degrees is among the lowest in the nation; only, approximately, one-in-five West Virginia students earn an undergraduate degree or higher. That hasn’t tempered Pellett’s enthusiasm, though.
“Glenville has got great days ahead of it,” he said. “They’ve got a phenomenal history that’s based on success, and I have no doubt that they’re going to have great successes ahead of them as well.”
“The people have got to be some of the most honest, hard-working, faith, family, community-based people I have ever met. That excites me.”
Dr. Pellett said his time at schools in Georgia and the state of Washington has given him a blueprint for bringing growth to Glenville State. One of his methods is simple: bring down student costs.
“Utilizing online resources–educational resources that are either free or at a significantly reduced rate–will cut the cost for college students,” he said. “Here [at College of Coastal Georgia] we’ve cut the cost minimally more than $600 per year.”
Still the exuberant public middle school teacher at heart, Dr. Pellett still fondly remembers his first years in education.
“If you can survive middle school, being a middle school teacher, and those changes that take place with kids at that age, I think you can probably survive anything educationally,” he said. “I loved it. That was one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had.”
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission must approve the hire at a special meeting.
Dr. Pellett replaces outgoing President, Dr. Peter Barr. He is retiring after 12 years at Glenville State College.
This will be Dr. Pellett’s first stint as the President of a college.