CU President Announces Retirement after 22 Years of Service
Athens, W.Va. – Concord University President, Jerry L. Beasley, announced his decision to retire during the executive session of Concord University’s regularly scheduled Board of Governors meeting after 22 years of service. Beasley, originally from Hinton in Summers County, is a southern West Virginian who chose to remain and work in the Mountain State. He will retire from the Office of the President on June 30, 2008.
Dr. Beasley said in his letter to the members of the Concord Community: “I have decided to retire from the presidency of Concord University on June 30, 2008. Jean and I plan to live in the Athens area, and I will explore with our Board and campus colleagues possibilities for continued service.
“Our days at Concord have given me inexpressible joy. The opportunity to do college work in an area one calls home is rare indeed in a profession that often requires moving about the country.
“In 1985, I was asked to lead an already strong institution in which faculty and staff participation in governance was well established. I will ever be grateful for your wisdom and willing work that made the load lighter and the way straighter. What we have accomplished, we have done together in shared mission. I am proud of our work, but as you know there is much still to be done.
“This next year is no time to rest. North Central Association will visit to evaluate our worthiness for re-accreditation. We have new quarters and thus new opportunities in Beckley. Opening the Rahall Technology Center will be attended by new expectations of service to our region. And, we must make wise investments now to assure a sound future for Concord and the students we serve.
“Jean and I look forward to many more years of living and working with you.”
Board of Governors Chair, Mr. R.T. “Ted” Rogers, said that, “President Beasley has led the institution by encouraging faculty and staff to meet the mandates of constant improvement within their areas of responsibility, rigorous academic standards, and high goals for student scholarships through fundraising. Jerry points to the achievements of Concord’s students, and accomplishments of the institution’s faculty and staff, but I see those accomplishments directly tied to his leadership. For example, the institution’s “Points of Pride” lists accomplishments of students, faculty, and institutional rankings—ample documentation of a presidential career that focuses on rigorous academic standards and high ideals.
“I encouraged him to ‘stay the course’ for a while longer, but he was resolute in his plans to seek a different set of opportunities that will, I suspect, continue to benefit Concord University.”
BIOGRAPHY OF JERRY L. BEASLEY
Jerry L. Beasley became Concord University’s 17th president, July 1, 1985, upon the retirement of Dr. Meredith N. Freeman, who served from 1976 through 1985.
Dr. Beasley grew up in Hinton where his father was a teacher and a coach in the public school system for several years. While a young teenager, the family moved to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He is an alumnus of both Harvard and Stanford Universities. As a National Scholar, supported by the Sarah and Pauline Maier Endowment, Dr. Beasley received an A.B., cum laude, from Harvard College in 1966. He was a member of the football team while pursuing his undergraduate degree. In 1969 he proceeded to receive a Master in Education degree from Harvard University. Beasley worked at Harvard University serving as an assistant to the admissions committee for Harvard College and was a member of the freshmen Board of Advisors.
He then joined the West Virginia Commission of Higher Education in the field of comprehensive planning and worked for the Educational Talent Search project. From 1970 to 1971 he was an assistant to the chancellor of the West Virginia Board of Regents, which had been established in 1969.
During the summer of 1972 he was employed at Concord College as a special assistant to the president. Next he was hired by Waynesburg College as vice president for planning and development from 1974 through 1982 where his efforts more than tripled gifts and grants for operations. He was responsible for annual giving, estate planning, grant and foundation support, alumni activities, public relations, and publications.
Dr. Beasley continued his education as a National Institute for Mental Health Fellow in organizational studies. He was awarded a Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1979: His doctoral research at Stanford focused on innovations in state government.
He then served as vice president for planning and development at West Virginia Wesleyan, a four year liberal arts institution in Buckhannon, W.Va., from 1982 to 1985. Wesleyan is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. While at Wesleyan he increased the gifts from donors, friends, and volunteers and directed a major gifts campaign—The Centennial Fund. He also founded a Parents Association. Mort Gamble, director of college relations for Wesleyan in 1985, said, “[Dr. Beasley] is very generous, articulate, and honest . . . his accomplishments [at Wesleyan] are literally too numerous to mention.”
Dr. Beasley began his career at Concord somewhat unconventionally by forgoing the traditional inauguration and devoting the funds and efforts normally expended on such ceremonies to the support of student scholarships. “I cannot justify the expenditure of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in inaugural preparations when the needs for financial assistance to students and funds for faculty development are paramount,” he said in an announcement in 1986. He then invited the community to join in efforts to improve educational opportunities in southern West Virginia.
During Dr. Beasley’s tenure, Concord attained its highest enrollment ever in a market with a declining population Enrollment for the fall of 2001 was 3,055, 2,947 for 2006.. He developed one of the largest endowments of any West Virginia public college: At $23 million (FY 2006), the Concord University Foundation is number one among small public colleges and universities in the state. He oversaw changes and improvements to the physical plant at Concord including renovations and expansions to Marsh Hall (administration building) and the science building. Significant improvements were made to the athletic facilities as well. The Nick Joe Rahall, II Technology Center is nearing completion; and his administration is finalizing funding for University Point, a new facility that will house the institution’s alumni association and an interfaith chapel.
During Dr. Beasley's administration, Concord received national recognition for its progressive efforts, including HAPIN (Helping Assist People in Need, a student volunteer organization that helps with adult literacy, crisis hotlines and the like), the Summer Academy and Teacher's Institute, the enrichment of learning in West Virginia secondary schools, the Concord Quest for Scholars (campaigns to fund scholarships), and the Bonner Scholars program, funded by a gift from the Bonner Foundation in Princeton, N.J. At the time the gift was made, it was the largest gift to an institution of higher education—public or private—in West Virginia.
Continuing on a theme that mixed academics and volunteerism, Beasley was instrumental in developing the Bonner Scholars program at Concord. The program provides scholarships or stipends to 80 students for community service work. Three Bonner Scholars have been Concord valedictorians since the program began, and the majority of Bonner Scholars have been native West Virginians. Concord is currently the only public institution in the nation with the Bonner Scholars program. More than 300 students have completed 450,000 hours of community service and received more than $1.5 million for their efforts.
In 2004 Dr. Beasley oversaw the institution attain university status. He and his administration acquired funding to endow an entrepreneurial studies program similar in organization and structure to the Bonner Scholars program. Since 1985 the institution has added undergraduate programs in computer information systems, athletic training and environmental geosciences. A graduate program in teacher education was also launched. Additions to the athletic program at Concord, now a NCAA II school, included women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s track and field.
Under his administration Concord awarded seven honorary degrees, including the following: Queen Sirikit of Thailand, Arnold G. Porterfield, James H. “Buck” Harless, Roland P. Sharp ’36, Wayne W. Meisel, Ruby Anderson Carter ’41, and most recently, Gaston Caperton.
President Beasley has served as consultant to numerous institutions of higher education, as well as federal and state agencies that developed recommendations for policy improvements for higher education.
He has been a member or leader of committees and other organizations whose goals were to improve the quality and accessibility of teacher education and community education as well as expand higher education’s commitment to economic and social development.
An original member of West Virginia’s Commission on National and Community Service, Dr. Beasley is a founding member of Campus Compact, a national coalition of college presidents dedicated to community service.
Beasley was a founding gubernatorial appointee to Mission West Virginia, and a member of the Clay Center board.
As Governor Gaston Caperton’s designee, Dr. Beasley chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Teacher Education and also served on a national commission that studied teacher education. Dr. Beasley has chaired the West Virginia Association of College and University Presidents and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He was selected by his fellow presidents to be the state’s representative to the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and he chaired that group’s Christa McAuliffe Awards Panel.
Dr. Beasley was elected to serve on the Harvard Alumni Association Board of Directors, which serves 300,000 Harvard alumni worldwide. He is a member of the Athens United Methodist Church, Princeton Rotary Club and the Bluefield and Princeton Chambers of Commerce.
He is married to Jean Dressler Beasley who holds a B.A. (summa cum laude) from Marshall University and J.D. from West Virginia University. They have three daughters: Heather Lauren, Sarah Elizabeth and Leah Ellen.
PHOTO #1: Jerry L. Beasley
PHOTO #2: Jerry L. Beasley