CHARLESTON, W.Va. — New University of Charleston President Dr. Martin Roth went to his first Charleston Rotary meeting Monday and he went as a guest of former UC President Ed Welch.
Roth officially replaced Welch last week after Welch’s 29 plus years on the job. Roth told MetroNews Monday he’s glad the retired Welch is sticking around.
“Ed is an institution in the Charleston and the West Virginia area and I’m very fortunate he’s going to be staying in the area,” Roth said. “Ed and I have developed a great rapport in the past four or five months and I look forward to taking advantage of all of his connections and expertise in the area.”
Roth, a Pittsburgh native, comes to UC following a nationwide search. He most recently was the dean of the Barney School of Business at the University of Hartford.
“I’m fortunate that I’m joining an institution that’s really thriving,” he said. “This is by no means a kind of a ‘turnaround’ situation,” he said.
Roth knows UC will continue to face challenges that are associated with small, private schools in small states but he said he’s confident the school can continue to expand its offerings to both traditional and non-traditional students.
“I think for institutions to be successful we have to be innovative, we have to be able to convince potential customers, who have access to lots of information about their choices, about what we do and what we do that’s unique, different and compelling,” Roth said.
The area of adult learning is a key heading in the future, Roth said.
“Our portfolio has been growing in both working professional and active military and I think that will continue to be an increasingly important part of what we do here at the University of Charleston,” he said.
Last December, UC was one of only five schools nationwide to be chosen for the Army University program that allows enlisted soldiers to improve their leadership skills. UC is the highest ranking West Virginia school on the Military Times Best: Colleges 2018 list.
“We need to be providing education to adult populations, primarily working professionals, without restriction to geography,” Roth said.
He expects undergrad recruitment to continue to focus on West Virginia but he also wants UC better known in Southeastern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southwestern Pennsylvania.
On leadership style, Roth said any college, large or small, can be a complex organization. He doesn’t plan on micro-managing.
“We need a lot of smart people to help us be successful. So I think my job is to be able to see the big picture of what’s happening in the higher education landscape, what’s happening in the West Virginia, national and global economies and try to provide direction of where we want to go,” Roth said. “Then work with the team on making strategic decisions on where we want to go and how we allocate our resources in a way that’s going to help the university and our students to be the most successful.”
Roth is the 26th president at the University of Charleston, formerly Morris Harvey College.