WEST LIBERTY — A gold medallion bearing the names of 32 West Liberty State College presidents glistened as Robin Capehart was officially named to that distinguished list.
Inaugurated Saturday as the 33rd president of the college, Capehart was surrounded by his wife Saun, daughter Emily and dignified members of academia. After being sworn in as president, Capehart spoke of his career, and he attributed his success to his roots.
“Fifty years ago next month, my mom and dad drove a Ford to Moundsville, West Virginia, and settled into a house in Marshall County,” Capehart said. “Dad worked shift work with the power plant and coached little league. Mom washed clothes, scrubbed floors and cooked meals. ...My story isn’t unique. It isn’t exclusive. It’s a story of thousands of people who, with the sweat of their brows, sent children to college.”
Tying in pieces of his own history with the birth of West Liberty State College, Capehart talked about the school’s place in the community. He also highlighted the bright future of the institution professing his “steadfast allegiance” to its growth and success.
“West Liberty State College means so much to so many people,” Capehart said. “There is not a day that goes by I haven’t run into a proud grad.”
Capehart also spoke about the major areas upon which he would like to focus during his tenure at the college. Those include strong and focused efforts for resources; building a high quality faculty, staff and student life; providing students with “real life” experiences, as well as an exciting and satisfactory campus life; producing graduates who posess critical thinking skills to compete and thrive and to seek partnerships through the business community.
“We have a bright and prosperous future with fresh and exciting opportunities,” he said.
Thanking his wife Saun for 13 years of support through twists and turns, as well as their daughter Emily for sacrificing the comfort of her neighborhood, Capehart told them he hopes they find light on the campus of their West Liberty home.
As for his vision in leading the Hilltoppers into the 21st century, Capehart said he will follow in the spirit of his predecessors who committed themselves to leading the college and its students to be a success while in school and upon graduation.
He also quoted President John F. Kennedy who once visited the campus. ‘‘We don’t do things because they are easy, we do things because they are hard,’’ Capehart said.
‘‘We shall chose to move from a good college to a great university. Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.’’
Before assuming the role of president, Capehart was an associate professor and director of tax studies at Marshall University. He holds a B.S. and J.D. from West Virginia University and a Masters of Law in Taxation from Georgetown University. He completed a Fullbright Fellowship in January 2007 while teaching in the eastern European republic of Moldova.
‘‘Robin Capehart, as a native of the Northern Pandhandle, has a vast knowledge of the West Liberty State College community and the inner workings of West Virginia state government,’’ said John Moore, the chair of West Liberty State College Board of Governors. ‘‘The Board of Governors and I feel confident he has the experience and vision to lead West Liberty State College.’’
Wheeling resident Capehart succeeded Richard Owens, who resigned in fall 2005. After Owens’ resignation, John McCullough served as interim president at the college until Capehart assumed the office.
During the inauguration, McCullough, the executive vice president/chief administrative officer, received an honorary plaque for leading the college during the process of seeking a new president.
‘‘Today we install a new president, but we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the role Mr. McCullough has played,’’ said Lynne Exley, chair of the West Liberty State College Board of Governors. ‘‘Indeed it’s a blessing you (McCullough) will continue to serve with President Capehart.’’
Additionally, Dr. Brian Noland, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, spoke about his unending commitment in supporting WLSC.
‘‘Mr. president, as you strive to attain university status, I will support you and this great institution.’’
A reception was held in the College Union Ballroom immediately following the ceremony. Those in attendance were invited to the West Liberty vs. Fairmont State University football game played at Russek Field.
Robin Capehart addresses the audience during his inauguration as the 33rd president of West Liberty State College on Saturday.
Photos byScott McCloskey