Dear Marshall Community,
I write to you today both honored and humbled to have been asked to serve as your interim president.
Thank you for welcoming Jo Ann and me with open arms. The reception we have received has been nothing short of overwhelming, and we appreciate it more than you know. I enjoyed meeting many of you on Friday at the reception and look forward to meeting more of you in the coming weeks and months.
The sudden death of President Kopp left a void that will be impossible to fill, not only because we lost a man with tremendous vision, leadership skills, character and work ethic, but also because many of us lost a close friend. To step into the shoes of a man and a leader like Steve is a somewhat daunting proposition. It is an awesome responsibility—and one I do not take lightly—to have been asked to lead this university at such a critical time.
The opportunities and challenges we face as an institution are significant and, as interim president, I see my role as more than merely a caretaker. I intend to be fully engaged in rolling up my sleeves and working beside you to make our university better.
Since the legislative session started last week, I have spent the better part of two days at the Capitol in Charleston, meeting with our local delegation and the leadership of both houses. I am encouraged by the support Marshall University has in the legislature and feel confident our voice will be heard as we work with our representatives to address the many challenges faced by higher education.
To that point, I want to assure you that we are moving ahead aggressively on the critical Marshall 2020 strategic planning process started by President Kopp. As you know, work groups last fall made recommendations about how programs and services might be offered more efficiently. These gains in efficiency will position us to operate in the face of ongoing cuts to state funding and will free up resources for investment in university priorities. Yesterday, I participated in a meeting with a group of more than 100 members of the campus community to kick off the implementation phase, about which you’ll be hearing more in the coming days and weeks. I am quite impressed with the work that has been done to date and the willingness of the work group participants to think “outside the box.” They recognize that the very future of Marshall University depends on the work they are doing right now.
I also am getting around to the various constituent groups here on the Huntington campus. I have met with officers of the Student Government Association and with the Classified Staff Council, and will be speaking with the Faculty Senate tomorrow at its first meeting of the semester. I’ll also be meeting with the faculty of each college in the coming weeks. I am encouraged by the tremendous dedication and enthusiasm I see all around me.
In other recent developments, the Board of Governors has begun to formulate a process for the presidential search. As announced, it is anticipated the search will last approximately six to nine months. The board is committed to finding the very best candidate to lead Marshall University, and I am confident that they will do so. l pledge to keep you informed and updated as the search proceeds.
In closing, let me say I’m extremely proud to be here. I look working with you to keep Marshall moving swiftly forward, focused on the welfare and education of our students.
Gary G. White