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Retiring WVU Tech president reflects on campus move to Beckley

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The president of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology says she wants to make sure her successor is hired in a permanent role so the school can continue to build on its latest achievements.

Carolyn Long

Carolyn Long, 74, announced Thursday she is retiring in December.

“The only reason I announced my retirement as early as I did is I would like Tech not to have an interim. We’ve been stable for 10 years and I’d like us to go from one stability to another,” Long said during an interview with MetroNews affiliate WJLS Radio in Beckley Friday.

One of Long’s most notable accomplishments is Tech’s transition from Montgomery to Beckley in 2017. She said it was a process that was all new to her.

“We went into this kind of blind. I wanted to do some research and find out how you move campuses and basically there was no information on how you do that,” Long said.

There was a lot of backlash from the Montgomery community for losing Tech. It’s something Long still thinks about to this day.

“I know there’s some people there that still furious at us and really hate us,” Long said. “I’m so sorry that that has happened because I would want them to be happy for what we have done in the sense that this little school is thriving.”

When Long arrived at Tech in Jan. 2011, she said there were a lot of enrollment problems that needed to be sorted out.

“There was a lot of controversy about how they should proceed and what should happen. Their attendance had fallen off quite a bit,” she said.

Then-president Jim Clements was the person who called Long to lead Tech for about six months. Those months turned into more than 10 years.

“Because I had been in education and, to a point, I had some business background, Jim Clements asked me to go to Tech,” Long said.

In 2007, Long served on the WVU Board of Governors where she served as the first female chair from 2008 to 2011.

Long’s first retirement came in 2009 when she left the superintendent’s role at Braxton County Schools. She was the first female superintendent in that county.

Long started her education career as a teacher in Kanawha County Schools.

“Carolyn has brought her unique brand of dynamic energy to every challenge and opportunity in her professional life,” WVU President Gordon Gee said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for her many achievements and contributions to our University and her tireless efforts to improve education across West Virginia. Above all, I am so very thankful for Carolyn’s steadfast friendship.”

WVU officials are now launching a nationwide search for Long’s successor. The goal is to name a new president of the Beckely campus by Jan 1., 2023.

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