Bernstine pursuing West Virginia job

Portland State President Dan Bernstine returned to campus Wednesday after a Monday interview at West Virginia University for the school’s top post.

Portland State President Dan Bernstine returned to campus Wednesday after a Monday interview at West Virginia University for the school’s top post.

The WVU Board of Governors will select the university’s 22nd president at an April 13 meeting and then gain consent from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. The new president chosen will begin this fall.

Bernstine is the only applicant who is currently serving as a university president. The other candidates are Michael S. Garrison, a managing member of a Morgantown law office, and M. Duane Nellis, provost of Kansas State University.

Bernstine said that he had not pursued the position, but felt the timing was right to look into options outside Portland.

“I am very happy at PSU,” Bernstine said, “and that’s as good a time as any to look into some other options.”

Bernstine, 61, mentioned that the timing of his eventual retirement also played a part in his decision to apply for the position.

“It’s not like I have another 30 years left to work,” he said.

“I’ve been at PSU for 10 years now,” Bernstine said. “I get calls periodically and I’m at a point in my career where I can consider if I want to stay at PSU or try something new.”

Lindsay Desrochers, vice president of finance and administration and second in charge behind Bernstine, said that Bernstine would be missed should he accept the position.

“We love him,” Desrochers said. “He has been great for Portland State for many years, and we hope that we can keep him.”

Desrochers returned to PSU in January of 2006, resuming a position she had left 10 years prior.

“It would be a very big change for us if he were to leave,” Desrochers said, “but he is a much-in-demand person.”

Courtney Morse, student body President, was surprised to hear that Bernstine might be leaving.

“It is a shock at first,” Morse said.

Bernstine, she said, has been able to move forward on many of his own initiatives, especially in expanding international student programs and his diversity initiative. He has made great strides especially, she said, in developing sustainability standards for the campus.

“If there is a new president,” Morse said, “it would be great to have someone who is student-friendly, open to hearing our ideas and can connect with students.”

Bernstine and two other finalists will meet with staff and students, as well as the WVU Board of Governors search committee responsible for choosing the school’s new president.

Bernstine said that this is his first visit to the large, hilly campus, and that he would not make a decision before looking at the campus and meeting its faculty and students.

Bernstine received a nearly $170,000 raise in pay this academic year, almost doubling his salary. His total annual salary is now $340,008.

The current president of WVU, David C. Hardesty, Jr., makes $275,000 a year. Bernstine could be forced to take a sizable pay cut if he took the position.

WVU is a public, land-grant institution located on 913 acres in the small city of Morgantown.

The WVU faculty conduct over $150 million annually in research. PSU has seen an increase in research funding from $17 million to $40 million during Bernstine’s tenure.

WVU is known for its top-ranking football team, and has 20,590 undergraduates. Hardesty took the position as president in 1995, and announced his retirement in August.