INSTITUTE, W.VA. – The West Virginia State University (WVSU) Presidential Search Committee has selected three higher education leaders as the finalists to become the 12th president of the University.

Dr. Nicole Pride, vice provost for academic strategy and operations at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University; Dr. Patricia Ramsey, senior executive fellow at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund; and Dr. Rodney Smith, president and CEO of the University of The Bahamas, have been invited to campus next week to meet with constituent groups.

The meetings with students, faculty, staff and community leaders will take place in the James C. Wilson University Union and will follow state and CDC social distancing and safety guidelines for events. The meeting will also be available virtually via Zoom.

WVSU has been searching for its 12th president, since the announcement that former President Anthony L. Jenkins was leaving to become President of Coppin State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. R. Charles Byers has served as interim president of the University since May 16th.


Dr. Nicole Pride began her career in the corporate and non-profit sectors, and left industry to begin her service in higher education at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she served as principal liaison and senior advisor to the chancellor, a member of the chancellor’s executive cabinet, and provided strategic and operational support for internal and extent constituencies. Pride has held C-Suite positions in University Advancement and the Office of the Chancellor, and has the distinction of holding three senior-level positions, with increasing responsibility within eight years of service.

She has utilized her diverse skillset to engineer the strategy to overhaul the university’s brand perception among prospective and current students, parents, alumni, potential donors, research partners, and peer institutions; raise funds; enhance operational excellence; build diverse teams; increase student success; mitigate crises; and advance mission-driven organizational change.

Pride also served as the university’s chief of staff and chief communications officer, responsible for communications, marketing, branding, media and public relations and crisis communications. Her work defined the university’s brand in the state, nation and global marketplace, and her successes track with the institutions arrival as the largest historically black university in the nation.

Pride now serves as vice provost for academic strategy and operations at North Carolina A&T State University, where she also holds a faculty appointment. Prior to joining the university, Pride served as vice president for development and communications for Child Care Services Association in Chapel Hill, N.C. She also served in numerous capacities at IBM including marketing program manager, corporate learning division and manager of corporate community relations and public affairs for nearly a decade. In addition to her professional appointments, Pride has served on numerous boards and committees, and her research interests are in the areas of board governance and leadership.

Her awards and honors include the Triad Business Journal’s 2018 Outstanding Women in Business award and the PR News’ 2017 cohort of Top Women in Public Relations in the nation — the prestigious award that recognizes women at the forefront of public relations who have made bold advances in developing brand messages, and protecting and building brand reputations among other things.

An Orange, New Jersey native, Pride lives and plays in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. She earned bachelor’s degrees in business management and economics from North Carolina State University, a master’s in corporate and public communications from Seton Hall University, and a doctorate in leadership studies from North Carolina A&T State University. She is mother to grown sons, Turner Jr. and Todd, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Dr. Patricia Ramsey is a visionary leader and a scholar with a deep commitment to excellence and a passion for making a difference, with the distinction of being named a “National Role Model” by Minority Access, Inc.

Dr. Ramsey currently serves as a Senior Executive Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and formerly served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at both Lincoln and Bowie State universities. Dr. Ramsey also served as Interim President at Bowie State University, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Shaw University and Associate Vice President for Development (fundraising) at Norfolk State University. Dr. Ramsey has a wealth of knowledge regarding higher education practice; she serves as an accreditation evaluator, where she has served on visiting teams evaluating stand-alone institutions, institutions in small systems, institutions in the largest university system in mainland USA, as well as institutions in the University System of Puerto Rico. She is currently serving a three-year term on the appeals panel of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education as well as a three-year term on the Middle States Regional Council of the College Board. Dr. Ramsey has represented HBCUs from the state house to the halls of Congress.

In addition to her impact in the United States and its territories, Dr. Ramsey has impacted higher education on the continents of Europe and Africa. In Europe, she provided oversight for Bowie State University’s graduate programs on the military base in Heidelberg, Germany, where she won front-page headlines in the military news for her bold position in allowing a 5 year old military dependent to stand proxy to receive the master’s degree for deployed soldiers. On the continent of Africa, Dr. Ramsey was one of four provosts in the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) delegation to Liberia, where she served in an education advisory capacity to the country’s president, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In Nigeria, Dr. Ramsey was instrumental in the success of a biotechnology training partnership and conducted a leadership workshop for the administration of Godfrey Okoye University in Enugu State, Nigeria.

Dr. Ramsey is a seasoned strategist and action-oriented leader with a strong skill of quickly implementing initiatives that yield positive outcomes. She negotiated a $1.3 million award after only three months as a fundraising officer at Norfolk State; she developed the infrastructure that resulted in $10 million in grants and contracts in less than two years at Shaw University; she led the university management team in a focused effort to tie budget and planning, within one month of her arrival at Bowie State and within six months at Lincoln, she cultivated a relationship with a new industry partner that resulted in a memorandum of understanding to provide scholarships, internships, and endowed professorships.

A biologist, by training, Dr. Ramsey has a research interest in the biological activity of plants used in folklore and has collected 110 species of Agave in the Sonoran Desert and traveled a 450-mile span of highway collecting Sapium sebiferum (popcorn tree) leaves in the southeastern United States. Dr. Ramsey earned the Master of Science in Botany from Howard University, the Master of Arts in Biology from Harvard University and the Doctor of Philosophy in Biology from Georgetown University. Dr. Ramsey obtained her undergraduate degree from Norfolk State University, where she earned the Bachelor of Science in Biology Education. Dr. Ramsey completed leadership programs in the Millennium Leadership Institute, Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management (IEM), and the CIVIC Leadership Institute.

Dr. Ramsey is married to Dr. Roscoe Ramsey Jr, a physician and a minister; they have three adult children.

Dr. Rodney Smith has served in several senior administrative leadership positions in higher education, including President of a public institution of higher education, President of a national multi-campus University system, and program coordinator of Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management (IEM). Dr. Smith also served in several vice president positions, including student affairs, administrative services, and planning. He also served as director of strategic planning, dean of the graduate college and professor in a PhD. Program in Educational Management. Dr. Smith has taught graduate courses in Educational Research and Strategy and Strategic Planning. He is currently President and CEO of University of The Bahamas; and before that, served as Administrative Vice President at Hampton University, with responsibility for strategic planning, institutional effectiveness, quality service training programmes, assessment of all academic and non-academic programs, university athletics (Division 1, NCAA), Internal Auditor and the Office of Institutional Research, (Operations Analysis and Research), and all aspects of Enrollment Management (offices of Admissions, Financial Aid and Scholarships, and Registrar).

Dr. Smith received his doctorate of education degree from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in the area of Administration, Planning and Social Policy. He earned a Master’s Degree in Education with a Concentration in International Development from Harvard University, a Master of Arts degree from Fisk University in Clinical/Educational Psychology, and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He is the recipient of the 2016 JCN International Person of the Year Award, and has been inducted into Chi Alpha Epsilon Academic Honor Society, Alpha Chi Chapter; Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society; and Delta Mu Delta, National Honor Society in Business Administration. Dr. Smith has participated in several professional development institutes, including the Millennium Leadership Institute (MLI) of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), Harvard’s Institute for Educational Management (IEM), the Harvard Institute for New Presidents, Harvard Seminar on Institutional Advancement, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Emergency Management Institute for Emergency Management Planning, Preparedness, Training and Education for Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Smith has served as trustee, chair and member of several national and international boards, associations and government committees; including, member of the Board of Directors for AASCU, member of the American Council on Education (ACE), New Jersey Department of Education Board of Examiners, New Jersey Presidents’ Council, National Association of Student Affairs Administrators, Virginia State Graduate Deans Council, Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey, Hackensack Medical University Foundation, Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (Chair of the Committee on Lifelong Learning and Higher Education), National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, The Bahamas National Trust, The National Advisory Council on Education, and the National Accreditation and Equivalency Council of The Bahamas (NAECOB). As appointed Chair, he has led several successful initiatives, including the African-American Jewish Community Relations Symposia at Hampton University, 100 Templeton Foundation Character Building Colleges, and the New Jersey United Nations Day Celebrations Committee in New Jersey. Dr. Smith is the spouse of Dr. Christina C. Smith, an academic administrator and former dean. They have two grown children – Samantha, a practicing physician in Blacksburg, Virginia; and Sean, a luxury real estate developer in Florida and The Bahamas.

Learn more about the finalist here.


About West Virginia State University (WVSU)

Founded in 1891, West Virginia State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university (HBCU), which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution. The University, “a living laboratory of human relations,” is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. It’s mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research. To learn more, visit

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