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WVU Potomac State College president to serve on board at Mississippi college

President Gilmer with Shirlethia Franklin, Esq.

Shirlethia Franklin, Esq. (right), a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Jones Day Law Firm, and also served as a former senior U.S. Department of Justice official in the Obama Administration, was one of Dr. Gilmer’s most outstanding students at Tougaloo College. Now a member of Tougaloo’s Board of Trustees, Franklin nominated her former professor and mentor to serve on the Board alongside her.

Gilmer to serve on Tougaloo College Board of Trustees

Anyone who has met West Virginia University Potomac State College Campus President Chris Gilmer, heard him speak, or read his column in the Mineral Daily News Tribune, is aware of his story about growing up in rural Mississippi as well as his journey into higher education.

In addition to his presidential duties at PSC, Gilmer recently accepted a volunteer appointment to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees with Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss.

“I am very honored to have been asked to serve on the Board of Trustees. I served as a faculty member at Tougaloo College from 1999 to 2006 and have maintained close ties with the College and many of my former students. In fact, it was a former student who nominated me to serve on the Board,” Gilmer said.

Tougaloo College is a private, historically black, coeducational, four-year liberal arts institution. It has gained national respect for its high academic standards and notable level of social responsibility, especially during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, serving as a haven for activists, as well as hosting state and national leaders. Tougaloo College is also part of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail which spans 14 states.

“Tougaloo College, like all successful colleges, relies on the service and expertise of its Board of Trustees to guide the vision and strategic direction of the institution. As President of Tougaloo College, I am very happy to welcome my longtime friend and colleague, Chris Gilmer, to serve on our board. The unique perspective of having a sitting college president and someone with a lifetime of proven commitment to Tougaloo and HBCUs will be of great value as we move the institution forward. The Board and I are thrilled that Chris has come full circle back to the college that gave him his academic start, and we value his expertise and the perspective he brings,” said Donzell Lee, Ph.D., President of Tougaloo College.

Students, faculty, and community members all know that Gilmer is passionate about students succeeding in their educational pursuits. He is teaching a Shakespeare class at Potomac State this fall as well, which he entered with an in-character persona from Macbeth, enchanting students during their classroom session.

“Tougaloo is the first place I taught Shakespeare 24 years ago, and I did it the same way then that I do it now,” Gilmer said.

Gilmer stated that his service on the Tougaloo College board also has the potential to increase the national footprint of Potomac State College and the One WVU system. Both institutions have the opportunity to benefit from the new bridges being built which could lead to student and faculty exchange programs, pursuing grant and private funding collaboratively to benefit both colleges, and other collaborations.

“This appointment underscores President Gilmer’s commitment to service and excellence in higher education,” WVU President Gordon Gee said. “These types of collegial relationships benefit our students in so many ways and I look forward to seeing how this new opportunity bears fruit for students on West Virginia University’s campuses."