West Virginia will continue having one person lead the daily operations of its two- and four-year college oversight and policy agencies.
The board of the state Higher Education Policy Commission, which oversees the four-year schools, voted Friday to remove “interim” from Chancellor Sarah Tucker’s title. She became interim last year.
Since 2015, Tucker also has been chancellor of the separate community college system. She will remain in that role.
Tucker will continue making the $289,000 annual salary she has been making in the dual role, HEPC board Chairman Michael Farrell said. Each system pays half of that, although the community college system is solely responsible for $30,000 in extra deferred compensation pay she will receive.
Her contract with the HEPC runs through June 30, 2021, at which time her contract with the community college system also will expire. Farrell said that, at that time, her dual role can be extended.
The central offices overseeing the two systems already share most other staff.
Farrell said there were 28 candidates. Joe Delap, provost of Alabama’s Athens State University, was the only other finalist the chancellor search committee recommended to the full HEPC board. Farrell said at the start of the full board meeting Friday that Delap withdrew.
“We have come to the end of the search and have an excellent result,” Farrell said.
State law required a search for a permanent chancellor.
The power of the HEPC and its staff over four-year colleges has waned over the past several years. A state law passed in 2017 reduced the commission’s power over West Virginia University, Marshall University and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
On Friday, the board, as ordered by another state law (Senate Bill 760) that passed earlier this year, freed Shepherd University from regulation of its spending on things such as multimillion-dollar buildings and new academic programs.
The new law allows colleges freedom from this oversight if they meet any three of five criteria, such as a six-year graduation rate of at least 45% on average over three years. Once three or more criteria are met, the HEPC board must grant the freedom.