HUNTINGTON — Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert has announced that he will not seek a contract extension, ending his tenure at the university in July 2022.
In an internal university announcement Wednesday, Gilbert said that, for a “variety of personal and professional reasons,” he had informed Marshall’s Board of Governors of his decision.
“After considerable personal reflection, I have decided to define the endpoint of my term as president of Marshall University,” Gilbert wrote. “Serving as your president for the past five years has been a tremendous honor and privilege. I have put my whole self into the job and have always done what I thought was in the best interests of the university. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you over the next 14 months.”
The announcement comes as Athletic Director Mike Hamrick’s contract remains in limbo. Hamrick’s contract expires at the end of June.
“Dr. Gilbert has done an excellent job as our president,” board chairman Patrick Farrell tweeted. “His decision to step down leaves big shoes to fill, but his thoughtful approach to the transition will make sure that we don’t lose any momentum as we search for his replacement.”
Gilbert, 66, is the 37th president of Marshall, succeeding Stephen Kopp after his sudden death in 2014.
A Mississippi native with a background in biomedical engineering, Gilbert was the provost and executive vice president of Mississippi State University before coming to Marshall. His arrival in West Virginia felt serendipitous for Gilbert. He credits much of his confidence and growth to his time at West Virginia’s National Youth Science Camp, in Bartow, which he attended as a high school student.
“My wife couldn’t understand it,” Gilbert said in a 2018 interview with River Cities Magazine. “When we were dating and got married, I was always talking about science camp in West Virginia. She couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal to me. It was in the top 10 events in my life. It helped give me the confidence to go on and do things in grad school and beyond.”
In that 2018 interview, Gilbert said he was focused on diversifying the campus, including the student body and faculty. He wanted to bring in new development and expand research opportunities.
Under Gilbert, the university has established the School of Aviation, which is set to have students this fall, renovated the Memorial Student Center, built a new School of Pharmacy and graduate apartments along Hal Greer Boulevard and began plans to construct a new College of Business. The long-awaited baseball stadium also picked up momentum before the pandemic.
The university was given the prestigious “R2” research institution designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education under Gilbert. He also has overseen the addition of multiple high-demand programs, such as biomedical engineering, aviation, physician assistant and specialty agriculture, as well as early assurance programs in the health professions.
Gilbert has had to navigate declining enrollment and state budget cuts.