West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee announced today that Dr. Michele G. Wheatly will be stepping down as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the end of June.

Gee named College of Law Dean Joyce McConnell to the provost and vice president’s post, effective July 1.

“I want to thank Dr. Wheatly for her five years of extraordinary service to West Virginia University, especially co-leading our 2020 strategic planning process and for keeping those five goals focused and on track and, most recently, for leading our campus-wide reaccreditation efforts,” Dr. Gee said. “I have great respect for Michele and wish her all the best as she continues her contributions to—and leadership in – higher education.”

On appointing McConnell, President Gee said, “Joyce McConnell is a highly respected faculty member, dean and leader, and is familiar with all phases of academic life – from policies, programs and facilities to budgets, personnel and strategic planning.

“She also understands the bold vision of a major land-grant university and its primary mission to serve our state and its citizens,” he added. “Her commitment to this University and to West Virginia is evident; it’s truly a passion.”

Gee said he is appointing McConnell because she is the “right person at the right time” to help carry the message that higher education is one of the most powerful forces for making life better in this state and in this nation.

McConnell’s curriculum vitae is available for download here.

“Joyce’s stellar state and national reputation and collaborative approach to building partnerships and programs will ensure that West Virginia University’s academic progress and momentum will continue at a high level,” Gee said.

“I was very surprised and am truly honored that Dr. Gee offered me this opportunity,” McConnell said. “I have great admiration and respect for him, this great university and for my predecessor, Dr. Wheatly, who I consider a mentor and friend.”

She added, “I am proud of the work we have done at the College of Law – from establishing new exciting interdisciplinary programs and clinics?.to becoming a more dynamic and diverse student, faculty and staff community?to raising $36 million with $26 million going toward facility expansion?to seeing a significant rise in the national rankings—and so much more—so it makes me sad to leave that behind, but I know great things will continue at the law school.

“And, now, I am looking forward to enhancing our academic and research programs, experiences and facilities at the university level,” she added. “This is one of the most unique and special land-grant research universities in the country, and I pledge to work alongside President Gee and others to make sure this university continues to put the education, health, economy and quality of life of our citizens first.”

Board of Governors Chair James W. Dailey II said, “It is clear that Joyce McConnell loves WVU and this state and has dedicated herself to enhancing higher education and higher education access for our state’s citizens. The Board welcomes her to the executive leadership team.”

Faculty Senate Chair and representative to the Board of Governors Lisa DiBartolomeo noted that faculty have worked with McConnell over the years and have a great deal of respect for her.

“Joyce has strong support from the faculty ranks – both at the law school and across the University, ” DiBartolomeo said. “She is highly respected and people enjoy working with her. She has fantastic people skills and has built strong relationships with folks across the state.”

As provost and vice president, McConnell will oversee undergraduate and graduate academics, academic innovation, extension, the honors college, information technology, advising, civic engagement, the first-year academy, the registrar, international education and other areas.

She is the Willilam J. Maier, Jr. Dean and Thomas R. Goodwin Professor of Law, and has been at WVU for 19 years—the last six as dean. She also served two terms as associate dean for academic affairs.

Her teaching interests are property law, natural resources and land-use planning, and she also teaches gender and law, focusing on the leadership of women in the legal profession. She serves on many state and national legal commissions and boards, including co-chair of the Section for the Deans in the Association of American Law Schools and on accreditation teams for the American Bar Association.

She started her career as a clinical fellow at Georgetown University Law Center, then joined the faculty of the City University of New York, where she earned tenure and taught for eight years. She was also a visiting professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, where she taught in the first year curriculum and supervised clinical students in a joint project with the University of Maryland Hospital.

McConnell earned an undergraduate degree from Evergreen State College, a law degree from Antioch School of Law and a master of laws from Georgetown University Law Center.

Assuming the interim deanship at the College, effective July 1, will be Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Gregory Bowman. Bowman is a nationally recognized scholar in international trade and remedies, and was honored with the 2013 WVU Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award and was also voted on by the students as the 2013 College of Law Professor of the Year.

A national search will be conducted for a permanent dean.



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