With Carolyn Long departing as interim chancellor, search starts yet again

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s higher education system will be looking for yet another interim chancellor.

Carolyn Long

The Higher Education Policy Commission put out notice for a special meeting on Friday “to discuss personnel issues related to anticipated resignation by interim Chancellor Carolyn Long.”

Another agenda item alludes to the possibility of additional action by the commission.

Long, who was hired in July to be interim chancellor, wants to go back to her prior position as president of West Virginia University Tech, said HEPC Chairman Mike Farrell.

“With the close of the session last weekend, Carolyn and I chatted by telephone and she felt as if her service was complete, that she had gone through the transition, the HEPC still existed and she would like to return to her former position to take care of her students,” Farrell said in a Monday afternoon telephone interview.

Long, who wasn’t immediately available to comment Monday, was named interim chancellor during a contentious meeting in July.

Long’s close association with the West Virginia University board of governors prompted several higher education officials to question whether her appointment could be considered impartial.

The HEPC was already well into a search for a new, long-term chancellor because of the impending retirement of Paul Hill.

But the appointment of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education to study possible changes West Virginia’s college system halted the search.

Hill was retained for six months as an adviser. Both he and Long were making the same base salary, amounting to $227,119 a year.

Hill’s retention expired in December, Farrell said, and he has also reached the end of his accrued vacation time. So Hill is unlikely to be the backup plan.

Mike Farrell

“My expectation is the commission will look in a different direction,” Farrell said.

Farrell’s preference is to look for another interim chancellor.

He cited a legislative study group and the continued work of the Blue Ribbon Commission that could still alter the higher education system.

“I think it would be difficult to recruit a quality person to be chancellor of an organization that may change or its existence may be imperiled,” Farrell said.

So members of the Higher Education Policy Commission will have to determine if it’s worth a search to fill the chancellor’s role permanently or to look for a second interim chancellor.

“That’s the purpose of the meeting on Friday to make that choice,” Farrell said, “and then go about our business to find one or the other or both.”

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