Dr. Colelli steps in as new Campus Provost at PSC

By Liz Beavers Mineral Daily News-Tribune Managing Editor lbeavers@newstribune.info

KEYSER – When Dr. Leonard Colelli started considering applying for the position of provost of Potomac State College of WVU, he says he saw a small school with "a mission of teaching and learning" and knew PSC was the place for him.

With a Ph.D., master's degree and bachelor of science in industrial technology education, Dr. Colelli's focus throughout his career has been improving the methods of teaching for the greatest benefit of the students.

"That has always been what I think is important," he explained recently as he sat in his corner office overlooking the campus quad, where a large tent had been set up to treat the incoming students and their parents with a free lunch.

"I knew that education has been an historic mission here … and the position would be the next logical level up for me.

Colelli with students at Potomac State

Campus Provost Leonard Colelli is pictured talking with two of Potomac State College's incoming freshmen this fall, Michael Corley, from Keyser, WV and Taylor Douthitt, from Fort Ashby, WV.

"Plus, I really love the scenery," he added with a smile.

Dr. Colelli left a position as dean of the Eberly College of Science and Technology at California University of PA to step into the provost opening created by the retirement of Dr. Kerry Odell. He says although the university itself is quite a bit larger than Potomac State, the town in which he lived is comparable in size to Keyser.

"There are actually a lot more amenities here," he said.

Colelli explains that his expertise in developing learning and teaching strategies - "andragogy" in educational terms - will focus on helping to "understand the process of teaching, to evaluate the faculty, and their types of teaching.

"We want to look at what we're currently offering, and see if it's still relevant," he said. "Some programs, I'm told, haven't changed for 40 years.

"We also need to see if there are some things we're missing; that we should add to the program.

"I think what's important is things that make the institution look good and improve the value and help the students," he said.

Colelli also said he will be looking at the possibility of adding additional four-year programs as part of the offering at the small college, along with seeking funding for additional student scholarships, endowed professorships, and opportunities for students to travel and study abroad.

The new provost also has the physical aspect of the college on his agenda, as well.

"We certainly need a new science building," he said, noting that his predecessor had left some notes and sketches for an upgrade to the facility.

One of the accomplishments he is most proud of in his career is a $5 million upgrade to the science facilities at Cal. U., where "we got away from the separate lecture and lab model and integrated everything into a studio concept where you give students 10 of 15 minutes of knowledge and then put them to work."

Colelli said they would even provide lectures via podcasts and then the students could immediately put that knowledge to work in the labs.

"That's some of what I hope to bring to Potomac State," he said.

As far as other physical improvements, he hopes to continue with the same plan that has been in existence for the past several years.

While students began moving this week into Catamount Place, the new co-ed dorm located in the former Potomac Valley Hospital, work will continue on that transformation through next spring.

Colelli is also continuing to look toward the construction of a new gymnasium – the current gym is considered to be one of the oldest still in use in the United States - and new grandstands and a club house at Golden Park.

"When we get a new gymnasium built, we will turn the old gym into a wellness center," he said.

Colelli says he is also looking forward to keeping Potomac State as a vital part of the community.

"I'm for anything that works out as a win-win for both the college and the community," he said. "There is no limit as far as I'm concerned."