INSTITUTE, W.VA – The West Virginia State University (WVSU) Board of Governors has voted to recommend Dr. R. Charles Byers to serve as interim president of the University effective May 16, 2020.

Byers’ appointment must still be approved by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HPEC) which meets on Friday. If approved by HPEC, he would serve as interim president until a new permanent president for the University is selected. A national search is underway to replace current WVSU President Anthony L. Jenkins who is leaving to become president of Coppin State University.

“The selection of Dr. Byers ensures we continue to build on our mission, and to not lose momentum nor growth objectives in these very uncertain times,” said Charles E. Jones, Jr., WVSU BOG chair.

Byers has served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs for WVSU since July 2019. He has retired as Provost of the University in 2014 after 41 years of service at WVSU.

“I am looking forward to continuing to serve the University and to working with the leadership team to manage through these uncertain times posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, while also planning for the future of West Virginia State and the brighter days we all know are ahead,” said Byers. “We will continue to work to fulfill the University’s mission of meeting the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.”

Byers is a 1968 graduate of WVSU with a bachelor’s degree in art education. He later earned his master’s degree from The Ohio State University while working as a commercial artist and art teacher in Columbus, Ohio. Later, Byers earned a doctorate degree from Kent State University in higher education administration.

Byers joined the WVSU faculty in 1972 and spent the next 17 years as an associate professor of teacher education. He served for 12 years as the Vice President for Planning and Advancement, Title III Director and Executive Director for the WVSU Research and Development Corporation before being named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

In addition to his professional service to WVSU, Byers served on the Leadership West Virginia Board of Directors and for 10 years as a presenter for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Byers has served as Chair of the Trustee Board at the First Baptist Church in Charleston and as Chair of the Local School Improvement Committee in Dunbar. He has been a member of the Charles Drew Scholarship Commission and a consultant for strategic planning for Kentucky State University and the Association of Research Directors. He was a member of a Rotary Group Study Exchange Team to India.

In 2015, Byers, an accomplished painter and sketch artist, published “A Place We Love So Dear: A Collection of Campus Drawings,” featuring pen and ink drawings building on the WVSU campus.


About West Virginia State University (WVSU)

West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the University is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research. For more information, visit

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