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Pierpont Community and Technical College interim president wants to ‘refocus’ the institution

FAIRMONT, W.Va. – The new interim president of Pierpont Community and Technical College has a full schedule and a limited amount of time to get it done.

Dr. Kathleen Nelson is working under a 12-month employment contract through The Registry to lay the working foundation for the next president selected by the board of governors.

Dr. Kathleen Nelson

Nelson served as the president of Lake Superior College in Minnesota for 13 years, as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission for 18 years and served as interim president at Glenville State University prior to the appointment of Dr. Mark Manchin from Harrison County.

“We want to develop the systems and do that reframing in order to make sure we have really sound procedures and processes in place for the hiring of a new permanent president,” Nelson said.

She said the last two years of coupling and decoupling with Fairmont State University have taken a toll on the identity of Pierpont from within and now it’s time to prioritize Pierpont’s role in local communities to help staff and faculty mold students into the assets in localities and ambassadors for the school.

“Value the past, but there are some things from the past we need to let go of and we need to celebrate the present and really look at the future to strengthen the work we do,” Nelson said.

Nelson will meet with Fairmont State University interim president Dr. Dianna Phillip this week. A recent proposed merger of the two schools has unsettled employees and students of both campuses. Additionally, the situation complicated the operation of satellite campuses,” Nelson said.

“Because we are a stand alone institution does not mean we don’t cooperate and that we don’t work together as we help educate West Virginians,” Nelson said. “We’ll have a great conversation. I’m really looking forward to that.”

Any refocus of the school would be based on local economies, the needs of businesses and the local communities they serve. The development of high school programs and programs like the Monongalia County Tech Center in Morgantown or dual credit are key ways the school can serve the community.

“Workforce and community development, because I think they both work together,” Nelson said. “We develop the workforce and we develop our communities, so I think learning is very critical.”

Internally, Nelson operates with “shared governance,” a method to give everyone ownership of the plan and their important part of keeping that plan on track.

“We have not paid attention here to sharing information, asking for feedback and communicating clearly with each other within the institution and of course between the institution and the board,” she said.

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