WVSU | West Virginia State University

Dr. Brian O. Hemphill

Visionary Leadership:
Brian O. Hemphill, Ph.D., West Virginia State University’s 10th president effective July 1, 2012, is an unwavering champion for positive change. He has inspired an enduring commitment to excellence, accountability, and student-centeredness that encompasses students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends. Garnering support from all aspects of the campus community and prominent leaders from across the Kanawha Valley, the state of West Virginia, and the region, President Hemphill leads with the conviction that true, lasting change must come from within and that access to high-quality, affordable education should be available to everyone.  His vision is that West Virginia State University will become the most student-centered, research and teaching, land-grant University in the State of West Virginia and beyond. The tremendous energy and forward-momentum occurring across campus are indisputable evidence that his vision and philosophy are coming to life.

Since his arrival at West Virginia State University, President Hemphill has demonstrated his belief in shared governance and proven his steadfast commitment to academic quality, student access, and opportunities across every level of the campus community. Under his leadership, the University experienced a nine percent increase in the overall enrollment from fall 2012 to fall 2014. President Hemphill, with the help of his dynamic leadership team, has worked aggressively to reengage State’s national alumni base and build partnerships with area businesses which has led to a nearly 500 percent increase in total fundraising dollars and 150 percent increase in the number of individual donors during his first two years as President, and total giving has exceeded $9 million during his tenure. Additionally, he secured the largest single gift in the history of the University: $1 million.

To cement West Virginia State University’s commitment to improving its fiscal health and financial transparency, President Hemphill conducted the University’s first Budget Efficiency Summit and, further, commissioned a thorough review of University technological infrastructure. He assembled a faculty-led, degree completion taskforce to address the issues of retention and graduation rates. Ever-committed to creating lasting partnerships with neighboring colleges and universities, President Hemphill partnered with faculty and administrators to develop new academic programs and pathways through articulation agreements with both two- and four-year institutions, including programs in Engineering, Business, and Pharmacy.

President Hemphill charged University officials to conduct a comprehensive audit of academic facility needs and refinanced existing bonds, securing new revenue to improve the university’s infrastructure. He led a $53.9 million infrastructure revitalization that includes classroom upgrades, updated technology and equipment, renovation, and construction of new, state-of-the-art facilities. The $19 million renovation of Fleming Hall and the February 2014 dedication and opening of the D. Stephen and Diane H. Walker Convocation Center heralded the dawning of a new era for student-athletes and sports fans at West Virginia State University. The ceremony featured State alum and NBA legend Earl Lloyd, the first African-American to play in the NBA, as well as other NBA legends, Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell. In August 2014, the Judge Damon J. Keith Scholars Hall, the first new residence hall at West Virginia State University since 1969, was dedicated and opened. With suite-style living including two-, three-, and four-bedroom suites, in addition to a cyber cafĂ©, gaming room, and academic and meeting spaces, the $25.2 million, 291-bed hall features the unique academic and living environment students expect on a university campus and will greatly assist West Virginia State University’s ability to recruit and retain new students. Additional private funding was secured in order to build a $3.5 million end zone facility.

Recently, President Hemphill launched Vision 2020: State’s Roadmap to the Future, a comprehensive strategic plan outlining new programs and initiatives within the University, with measurable standards by which success will be gauged. And with work well underway in many areas included within the plan, exciting progress is imminent.


Academics and Scholarship:
President Hemphill’s road to West Virginia State University has taken him from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville, a flagship university, where he served as Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean of Students, to Northern Illinois University, a large, public, research university, where he served as Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management and Associate Professor for eight years.

President Hemphill earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Iowa, a Master of Science degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State University of Science and Technology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Communication from St. Augustine’s University.

President Hemphill’s passion for life and unparalleled commitment to excellence begin at home. He shares his life with Dr. Marisela Rosas Hemphill, his loving and supportive wife. They are the parents of energetic two-year-old twins, Catalina and Cruz. President Hemphill has two beautiful teenaged children, 19-year-old Jada and 15-year-old Jordan. Above all else, President Hemphill cherishes the time he spends with his children who are precious to him.

A devoted steward to the community, President Hemphill is an active member on the Rotary Club of Charleston, West Virginia, Thomas Health System Board of Trustees, Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Area Alliance Board of Directors, West Virginia Roundtable Board of Directors, and West Virginia KIDS COUNT Board of Directors.  He also serves as Chair of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Council of Presidents. He is a published author, whose multitudes of writings cover topics related to gun violence and threat-preparedness on college campuses; emerging financial concerns affecting the collegiate sphere; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)- and economic-related issues pertaining to education; and a myriad of additional scholarly perspectives pertinent to the higher education environment. President Hemphill is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, guest presenter, and panelist with frequent appearances across the country.

With enthusiastic support from students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends, President Hemphill is daily bringing to life his vision for West Virginia State University. It is a vision filled with buoyant hope, lasting change, and powerful results. By holding true to his visionary leadership, and as evidenced by the already substantial accomplishments, President Brian O. Hemphill and his leadership team hold great promise for the future success of the entire State family in the months and years to come. Under his leadership, it is evident that West Virginia State University will meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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