( * UPDATED * 7/8/08 6 p.m. Please note:The Higher Education Policy Commissionis expected totake up the matter Friday, July 11, during aspecial meeting.)

C. Peter Magrath, senior adviser to the College Board and President Emeritus of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC), will become the interim president ofWest Virginia University, effective Aug. 1, and will begin the transition July 15.

A respected national higher education leader who has served as president of four (now five) public universitiesUniversity of Missouri, University of Minnesota, the State University of New York Binghamton and the University of Nebraska (interim)Dr. Magrath was selected today (July 8) by members of the WVU Board of Governors.

BOG Chairman Steve Goodwin, who was instrumental in recruiting Magrath, announced the appointment.

Id like to welcome President Magrath to the WVU family,Goodwin said.We will soon embark on a new chapter in the Universitys history, and I believe we are in good hands with a respected, accomplished leader with a proven track record.

He added,Peter knows and loves higher education, especially the land-grant system, and while WVU and our State may be somewhat new to him, I know he will soon share a common vision and bond with all of us as we continue our pursuit of academic excellence and meaningful contributions in research, service and other areas of importance to our state, nation and world.

President Magrath said,I am energized by the opportunity to serve this prestigious land-grant University. I intend to listen carefully to students, faculty, academic administrators, staff, alumni, donors, the Governor, state and federal legislators, and all who have a passion for West Virginia University. I also intend to seek the perspective of former Presidents David Hardesty, Neil Bucklew and President Mike Garrison, who I will also work with on a successful transition.

I truly believe this is a great land-grant University,Magrath added.WVU’s mission as a land-grant is to serve its citizens in such areas as health care, energy, research and economic development. We all know there have been bumps along the roadbut that was yesterday; this is today. And we are looking forward to an even greater university tomorrow.

Magrath pledged towork diligentlyin the months ahead to bring positive attention to the important work of the University and to help with the process to launch a national search for a new permanent WVU president.

He made it clear that he did notsolicit this position,but was approached by respected colleagues and friends and, after talking to members of the Board, agreed to serve becauseI love land-grant universities and what they stand forand truly believe in West Virginia University.

He thanked Gov. Joe Manchin as well as state and congressional leaders and members of campus constituency groups for taking time to meet and talk with him about the position.

Ive learned that the people of this state are truly special,Magrath said.They care deeply about this land-grant University and want what is best for it always,

Newly elected BOG Chairwoman Carolyn Long said discussions with Magrathcame together quickly,adding,Since this all happened very fast, President Magrath will need some time to make the transition from his current responsibilities to his executive duties at WVU but has indicated to us that he plans to do that as quickly as possible.”

Prior to joining the College Board in January 2006, Magrath had been president of NASULGC since 1992, the nations oldest higher education association made up of 215 public research universities and land-grant colleges located in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. When he took over leadership of NASULGC , the association charted a new course by implementing a plan to reorganize and streamline its structure.

National leadership has included service on the Commission on the Future of the National Science Foundation; the Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities; the Southern Education Foundations advisory committee; and the American Association of Community Colleges. He also served as chairman of the Association of American Universities.

He is a former Board member of the Salzburg Global Seminar and remains active with that international study program that advances opportunities for American undergraduates and faculty members.

He is a widely recognized authority and author on issues of national importance to the higher education community, including international education, improvements in science education, strengthening teacher education and increased educational opportunities for African-American and minority students.

Magrath began his academic career at Brown University in the 1960s, moving from instructor to professor of political science professor and became associate dean of the graduate school. He was dean of arts and sciences and provost at the University of Nebraska from 1968-1972. He also was interim president.

He was president of SUNY -Binghamton from 1972-1974; president of Minnesota from 1974-1984; and president of Missouri from 1985-1991.

He was CEO at NASULGC from 1992-1996, and now serves with the College Board, a not-for-profit examination board that manages many different standardized tests including the SAT , a test widely used for admission to universities in the United States. The College Boards current president and CEO is Gaston Caperton, the former governor of West Virginia.

Magrath is the author of numerous books, monographs and articles (see related information) on American constitutional law and history, higher education and international affairs, and has been active on many national higher education commissions, task forces and committees.

He has been recognized with honorary doctorates from Brown University, the University of Nebraska, SUNY at Binghamton, Michigan State University, Lucian Blaga University in Romania and others. The University if Minnesota named the central library on its St. Paul campus after him in 1998.

He earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of New Hampshire and a Ph.D. from Cornell University.

He also served as a lieutenant in the Anti-Aircraft Artillery in the U.S. Army from 1955-57, stationed in what was then the Panama Canal Zone.

A resident of Glen Echo, Md., he is married to Deborah C. Howell, the ombudsman at the Washington Post, a former Washington bureau chief for Newhouse Newspapers and a former editor in chief of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.

He has two grown daughters, Valerie Carroll of Alexandria, Va., and Monette Magrath of Pasadena, Calif.

An avid runner and fitness enthusiast, Magrath will be an active participant in fall semester activities as they get under way.

President Garrison wished his successor well, saying,Ive met and spoken with Peter and am impressed with his knowledge of public higher education and especially the great value of our land-grant system. I appreciate his desire for close collaboration in a smooth and productive transition in the months ahead and look forward to working with him. As Ive said before, the opportunity to serve WVU will remain among my proudest experiences and for that I will be forever grateful.

Chairman Goodwin expressed thanks to the BOG for its dedication and commitment in appointing an interim president, and acknowledged input from key faculty, staff, students and alumni.

For comments from state, WVU and national higher education leaders as the day goes on, go to WVU news on the Webwww.wvutoday.wvu.edu.

To send a message to Interim President Magrath, e-mail presidentsoffice@mail.wvu.edu .

In other news, the BOG elected the following officers:

  • Chairman: Carolyn Long, Braxton County Superintendent of Schools
  • Vice Chair: Andrew A. Payne III , President, Payne Gallatin; Horse Creek Land and Mining Company; Spruce Boone Land Company, and Boone Coal and Timber Company
  • Secretary: Ted Mattern, Educational Consultant K-12. Retired Superintendent of Schools

New members sworn in at todays Board meeting are: Dr. Charles M. Vest, President Emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Oliver Luck, President and General Manager of the Houston Dynamo soccer franchise; and Ray Lane, managing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield&Byers.