President Christopher Gilmer
Chris Gilmer is President of West Virginia University at Parkersburg. Coming to West Virginia from Mississippi, he is a first-generation college graduate from a poor, rural sharecropping family, a fact in which he takes pride rather than shame. He was a statistic with low societal expectations before he was even born, and his simple message to students is this: “I am not special in any way. If I can do it, you can do it.” Dr. Gilmer spent most of his career as an administrator and faculty member in the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) system, most recently as Executive Director of the Vicksburg, Mississippi Campus of Alcorn State University, the oldest public land-grant HBCU in America. He also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Adams State University, the oldest federally-designated Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in Colorado. Dr. Gilmer earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi and is a tenured Professor of Humanities at WVU Parkersburg. He was the inaugural national chair of a network of technical assistance centers for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving all 50 states and U.S. jurisdictions, and has been a senior consultant for the U.S. Department of Education’s regional educational labs and comprehensive technical assistance centers for 15 years. A published author with deep expertise in developmental education, a field which prepares academically underprepared students for college success, Dr. Gilmer is Founder of the National Institutes for Historically-Underserved Students. His research and teaching interests focus on equity and inclusion with the literature of marginalized populations as his primary texts. He and his husband, David Creel, are humans-in-waiting to Naomi the Great Dane and Stella the Poodle.