Where I grew up on the road to Damascus, Mississippi, there were no traffic lights, no stores, no post office, just pine saplings and Sweetgum trees, farm ponds, and Sipsey Creek where my beloved Mamaw Sarah and I could be found fishing for supper every chance we got. Papaw Carlton either did not like to fish or knew that somebody had to keep harvesting the crops and tending the livestock, so he turned his head and smiled about three o’clock most days when Mamaw and I made our getaway.
These are the best memories of my lifetime, and I hope you have memories just as fond. I learned pretty much everything I needed to know about leadership on the road to Damascus: tell the truth, work hard, treat everyone with respect, be kind, help others when you can and take an optimistic view of the world even when it’s hard to see the good in yourself and others.
Papaw could bring forth the very best from the soil. To a small boy, it seemed like his pumpkins were the size of Cinderella’s carriage and his tomatoes as big as dinner plates. At WVU Potomac State College, we, too, are master gardeners. We nurture the best in each other, and if you give us a chance, we will do the same for you. Like the farm where I grew up, WVU PSC is as real as it gets.
Perhaps you are thinking about doing something important. If you are a student trying to decide whether we are right for you, coming to college for the first time or coming back after a long absence, I encourage you to dig into our amazing programs and then to take the next step of your journey with us. If you are currently a Catamount, a community member, a potential donor or friend, help us lift our students, our community and our world as high as the beautiful mountains that surround our campus.
In fact, that is how I define my role here — helper. I pledge to help the faculty and staff grow into the realization of their personal and professional dreams, to help the alumni find their way back home to PSC and the community beyond our walls and boundaries to feel closely connected to the college. Most of all, I pledge to put students at the center of everything we do.
So, come sing Karaoke with Chris. I know almost the entire Patsy Cline songbook and am eager for you to teach me your favorites. Whether I am frying you a chicken leg at the campus president’s home, teaching you a class in American literature or representing your interests statewide and across this great nation, know that I will always put your needs first.
I hope high-quality programs at very competitive prices administered by a dedicated faculty and staff in the beautiful mountain setting of Keyser, West Virginia, rightly named the friendliest city in the USA, will cause the country roads to lead you here to find your home with us. Welcome to the only place in the world where you can be a Catamount and a Mountaineer at the same time!
Chris Gilmer, Ph.D.
Interim Campus President