News Details

November 08, 2016

Dr. Joel Thierstein Named Nineteenth President of West Virginia Wesleyan College

West Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees has named Dr. Joel Thierstein as the College’s nineteenth president, succeeding Dr. Pamela Balch ’71, who has served as Wesleyan’s president since 2006. 

After a national search led by former board chair Marc Halbritter, Hon. '16, and a committee of 18, which consisted of alumni, administrators, faculty, staff, and students, Dr. Thierstein emerged as the committee’s top candidate.

"As Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am pleased to welcome Dr. Joel Thierstein as the next President of West Virginia Wesleyan College,” said Gavin Appleby ’76. “We are delighted with Dr. Thierstein's broad range of experience across many facets of higher education, and his passion for the residential liberal arts experience that is at the very core of Wesleyan’s culture and mission."

For over 20 years, Dr. Thierstein has established a national reputation as a distinctive leader in higher education. He currently serves as executive vice president and provost at Mount St. Joseph University, having also recently completed a stint as interim president at the university.

Prior to his tenure at Mount St. Joseph University, Dr. Thierstein served as a provost and vice president for academic affairs at Kentucky State University. He also was the associate provost at Rice University and executive director of Connexions. He was a professor and administrator at Oregon State University and Baylor University, a professor at Purdue University Calumet and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and a visiting professor of Communications Law at Syracuse University.

His recent works have focused on the development of innovative educational models and the role of higher education in the 21st century. He has made numerous presentations on the role of academe in the digital age at such broad ranging venues as the National Academy of Sciences and Harvard University.

"I am honored to be joining such a wonderfully dedicated community of people," stated Dr. Thierstein. “The rich intellectual tradition of West Virginia Wesleyan College provides students an incredible platform from which to enter the dynamic world in which we live."   

In 2011, he joined the team of the Under Secretary of the United States Department of Education as Senior Advisor to lead and inform the crafting of United States higher education policy. He worked to develop policy in several areas including open education, alternative credentialing, assessment, and accreditation.

Dr. Thierstein has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Open CourseWare Consortium and is one of the founders of Peer 2 Peer University. His work has been funded by many organizations including the Gates Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Twenty Million Minds Foundation, and Maxfield Foundation.

Throughout his career, Dr. Thierstein has worked in advanced technology. From 2002-09, he sat as a voting member of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, the international standards setting body for digital television.

The publisher of several books, he has written and presented numerous papers, both nationally and internationally. He has also served as an expert on a variety of educational and industry topics to numerous media outlets including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Money Magazine and U.S. News & World Report.

Dr. Thierstein earned a Ph.D., master of science, and bachelor of science in mass communications from the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He also holds a J.D. from Syracuse University, E.I. White College of Law.

He is the father of one daughter, Emily, a senior in high school.

Dr. Thierstein will begin his duties as president on July 1, 2017. The Board of Trustees also announced that Dr. Boyd Creasman, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the College, will be appointed interim president from January 1 to June 30, 2017. 

Since his arrival in 1990, Dr. Creasman has served in the capacity of school director of arts and humanities, chair of the English department, director of general studies, director of first-year seminar, and co-chair of the Retention Committee. He was named dean of the College in 2013. 

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