News Details

February 04, 2016

West Virginia Wesleyan President Pamela Balch to Retire in December

Dr. Pamela Balch ’71, the 18th president of West Virginia Wesleyan College and Wesleyan’s first woman president, has announced her decision to retire in December.  Balch has served as President of the United Methodist Church-related school for the past ten and a half years.

 

“Pam has served her alma mater with distinction and will be remembered for the incredible job she has done transforming the College,” said Marc Halbritter, chair of Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees.  “Thanks to her leadership, the College is thriving.  She has accomplished the goal she established upon her arrival—moving Wesleyan from “good to great.”

President Balch adopted a growth strategy upon her arrival, adding athletic and co-curricular programs, while placing detailed emphasis on expense management.  She was instrumental in directing resources to dramatically enhance the school’s picturesque campus, Wesleyan’s greatest asset. The College also invested considerable time in reviewing its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to build a comprehensive strategic plan to successfully fulfill Wesleyan’s mission.

Balch’s presidency began with the reestablishment of the nursing and physics programs, both of which have contributed significantly to Wesleyan’s undergraduate enrollment growth, and the addition of graduate programs in athletic training, education, English creative writing, and nursing. Her major accomplishments in addition to growing enrollment include the elimination of cumulative deficits, the construction of debt-free facilities such as the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts, the David E. Reemsnyder Research Center, the Bruce and Jeannie O’Roark Nordstrom Welcome Center, the fire escape for Agnes Howard Hall, a fountain and green space in front of Wesley Chapel, the replacement of roofs for Agnes Howard Hall, McCuskey Hall, the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Library, and Wesley Chapel, and renovations and improvements to many athletic facilities.  Under her tenure, the Thomas H. Albinson II School of Business was established. Wesleyan also added Dunn Residence Hall, a new Wellness Center in Jenkins Hall, and renovated Fleming and Doney Residence Halls.

Another extraordinary accomplishment occurred in September 2014, when Wesleyan was awarded a $10 million Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Strengthening Institutions Program.  Wesleyan was one of two schools to receive $10 million, which was the largest grant ever awarded by the Department of Education.  The grant provides support to renovate academic classrooms and laboratories, program resources to help students persist and graduate, and a challenge match to increase the endowment by $4 million.

Wesleyan also publicly launched a $30 million “Enhancing Our Tradition, Empowering Our Future” Capital Campaign in October and has already secured nearly $25 million toward the campaign goal.  In addition to renovating classrooms and buildings and adding new facilities, campaign gifts have resulted in the addition of more than 25 new endowed scholarships and the investment of more than $250,000 in new science equipment. Over 5,000 alumni and friends have contributed to the campaign to date and the Campaign has dramatically increased the number of annual major donors and planned gift commitments.

“When President Balch arrived, Wesleyan had several million dollars in accumulated deficits,” noted Halbritter.  “As she concludes her presidency, the College’s financial position is strong.”

Wesleyan has also been honored frequently during the last decade.  Both the Learning Center and the Center for Community Engagement have earned national recognition and Wesleyan has been the only West Virginia college or university to be included in the “Great Schools at Great Prices” category in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Guide for the past four years.

In addition, Wesleyan has received regional acclaim for its 24 international scholarship winners including 13 Fulbright, two Gilman, and the first West Virginia college student to be named a Mitchell Scholar recipient.

Wesleyan’s athletic program has experienced much success under President Balch’s leadership.  The College has recently hosted NCAA II regional tournaments in softball and women’s soccer and advanced to NCAA post-season play in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s tennis,  and men’s and women’s track.   Wesleyan can also boast of having more student-athletes honored for academic excellence in the Mountain East Conference than any other school with an overall student-athlete grade point average above 3.0.  In addition, Wesleyan added new bleachers to Culpepper Softball Field, Culpepper Soccer Stadium, Hank Ellis Baseball Field, and the Rockefeller Gymnasium. Currently, Wesleyan is in the process of renovating Ross Field into a multi-purpose athletic facility and constructing a new tennis center.

Along with the many outstanding achievements that were accomplished at Wesleyan during her presidency, Dr. Balch was also actively involved in a number of leadership positions.  She has served as the Chair of the Mountain East Conference and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Vice Chair of the WV Independent Colleges and Universities Association, Chair of the Appalachian College Association, and Chair of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church.  She has served as a board member of the Presidents’ Independent Colleges Enterprise (ICE), WV Campus Compact, WV Science and Research Council, Region VII Planning and Development Council, College Summit Advisory Board, Upshur County Development Authority, and National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).

Prior to her presidency at Wesleyan, Dr. Balch served as President of Mayville State University, ND, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty at Bethany College, Vice Provost for Academic Planning at California State University, Chico, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at San Diego State University, Imperial Campus, Director of Teacher Education at San Diego State, and ten-year faculty member at WVWC.

She has been named Phi Delta Kappa Educator of the Year, Teacher Educator of the Year for California, Imperial County Woman of the Year, selected as an ACE Fellow, a recipient of the leadership award for dedicated service to North Dakota, Buckhannon Chamber Commerce Business Woman of the Year, Distinguished Alumna of West Virginia University’s College of Education and Human Services Hall of Fame, and elected into the Uniontown High School (PA) Hall of Fame.

She received her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College and her masters and doctoral degrees from West Virginia University.  She has done postgraduate work at two Harvard University programs.

She is married to Patrick Balch, a retired professor from West Virginia University and San Diego State University.  They have a son, Paul, a civil engineer, in Phoenix, AZ, and a daughter, Julie, who is a pediatric hand/upper extremity surgeon at Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH.

President Balch and Patrick, plan to move to The Villages, FL after departing Wesleyan in December. She plans to continue her love of higher education through potential part-time work with a search firm that helps place administrators for colleges and universities. 

“As Pam prepares to leave Wesleyan and enter the next chapter in her life, on behalf of the Board, we want to thank her for her years of leadership and her willingness to work collaboratively,” added Halbritter.  “It has resulted in a shared vision where everyone is focused on attracting and graduating students, providing them with a quality education while they are here.”

A nationwide search for Wesleyan’s next president is underway where top notch candidates are expected to surface due to the reputation of the College, its excellent shape and bright future.

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