Provost R. Charles Byers Announces Retirement After 41 years of Service at West Virginia State University

Contact: Kimberly Osborne
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Nov. 4, 2013
Provost R. Charles Byers Announces Retirement After 41 years of Service at West Virginia State University
INSTITUTE, W.Va.—After 41 years of service at West Virginia State University, Provost R. Charles Byers today announced his retirement effective June 30, 2014.  Byers began his lifelong career at WVSU as a professor in the education department and has held several leadership roles but his first connection with State was as a student in the mid-1960’s.
“Charles is one of State’s greatest assets, a champion for education and a son of West Virginia State University. Throughout my presidency, Charles has provided me with quality and insightful support because he is dedicated to our students. His candor, friendliness and commitment to ensuring this University maintains high quality faculty who provide a rigorous and excellent education from which our students can build successful careers, is second to none,” said Dr. Brian O. Hemphill, President of the University.   “I appreciate all that Charles has done for State. He is an educator at heart and I am thankful he has agreed to remain an engaged member of the administration for one more year following his retirement as Provost. He will forever remain a part of the State family.”
Upon stepping down as Provost, Byers will serve as Senior Advisor to the President for one year with primary responsibilities including the campus master plan and the University’s accreditation.
“I feel fortunate that the University is in good hands with Dr. Hemphill. His positive vision is motivating faculty, staff and students. It has been a joy working and being part of the State family and I look forward to an additional year of service working directly alongside the President in his office,” Byers said.

Born in Logan County, Byers was raised in West Dunbar. He is a 1968 graduate of WVSU with a bachelor’s degree in Art Education. Byers later earned a Master of Fine Arts’ degree from The Ohio State University while working as a commercial artists and art teacher in Columbus. Later, Byers earned his Ph.D. from Kent State University and, to date, has more than 430 graduate hours from various higher education institutions.
“I love going to school. One of my major philosophies is learn for the sake of learning,” Byers said of his extensive degrees and credit hours. “What attracted me to WVSU as a student in 1964 was the student oriented faculty. My professors were so helpful with instruction and advising me—it was an enlightening experience and one that I am proud to say our faculty continue to deliver to today’s students.”
Byers held his first job at WVSU when he was a student, working in the bookstore. During his undergraduate studies, Byers was also an active student leader serving as Basileus Omega Psi Phi fraternity, President of the Pan Hellenic Council and President of the Men’s Senate. Byers attributes these leadership roles to his ability to listen closely to the needs of others and working with a collective group to address those needs. He has maintained this same leadership style throughout his career and it was instrumental in helping then West Virginia State College gain University status—a career highlight for Byers.
“I am most proud of my work to gain University status because we knew it would open doors for more opportunity and growth—and it has,” Byers said. “I am also proud to have twice led reaffirmation efforts and we earned an unprecedented 10 year accreditation status when most higher learning institutions were given accreditations in 5 year increments. Over the years, my work with student organizations, faculty senate, land-grant programs, Title III programs, the WVSU Research and Development Corporation and the WVSU Foundation have been rewarding experiences for me.”
Byers’ tenure at WVSU includes serving as Vice President of Planning and Advancement, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and most recently as Provost. Throughout the course of his 41 years as a faculty member and administrator at WVSU, Byers wants to be remembered for simply serving and helping others.

“When I was offered my first job at WVSU, I was a teacher and administrator at a high school. I knew if I came here to teach I could positively affect the lives of thousands. As an instructor in the institution’s education department, I would be shaping future teachers who would then go out into classrooms across America and help others reach their fullest potential. Twenty-two years of my tenure at State, I spent teaching in the education department. I have taught over 4,000 students. I hope I made a difference in their lives. That’s what is most satisfying to me about being a member of the University community—knowing that every day I can positively affect someone else’s life,” Byers said.        

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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.
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