MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Joyce McConnell said she is trading the Appalachian Mountains for the Rocky Mountains.
McConnell, the current West Virginia University provost and vice president for academic affairs, spoke those words on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline” as she was recently named the next president of Colorado State University.
“I have lived in West Virginia for 23 years,” she said. “This is the longest place I have lived in my life. I love West Virginia and I love WVU. It was very hard to get the offer and having to go through the process of what it meant.
“This is a very hard place to leave. West Virginia and WVU are very special places.”
CSU made the announcement on Friday that McConnell and the institution’s Board of Governors agreed to a five-year deal to become its 15th president. McConnell will be the institution’s first female president as CSU celebrates its 150th anniversary when she takes over in the Fall.
McConnell said becoming the first female president at CSU is an exciting moment in the history of land-grant universities.
“There are others that are led by women but it’s not as common in large public universities to have women leading them,” she said. “That is very exciting for me to be able to enter that space.
“What it means to me is joining an incredible group of people leading our most public institutions.”
McConnell has been at WVU more than 20 years where she has served in her current position since July 2014. She also served as dean of WVU’s College of Law.
She talked about what stood out to her in her time at WVU on “Talkline”, including the uprising of the university to being Research 1 which has resulted in more prosperity in the state.
“Following on the legacy that President David Hardesty left of growing the university and raising the profile of the university,” McConnell said of what stands out to her.
“Having subsequent presidents who were able to build on that, that has been the biggest opportunity.”
She said the process to be the next president of CSU happened very quickly as the result of help from former and current WVU brass including President E. Gordon Gee.
In the process, McConnell said Gee was very congratulatory when she met with him to tell the news of the job offer.
As leaving the community will be tough, McConnell said she and her husband are ready for this next adventure in life.
“We have been here 23 years and it is hard to pick up and leave,” McConnell said.
“On the other hand, there are points in your life where you see an opportunity and you know it is once in a lifetime. It is good to just walk through that door and be open to the adventure.”
McConnell officially takes over CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado on July 1, 2019.
She said one of her first goals is to get to know everyone and understand how Colorado ticks.
“I want to take what Colorado State is doing and make sure that it is linked to the need of the state in terms of building prosperity.”