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INSTITUTE, WV -

West Virginia State University officials say Provost R. Charles Byers will retire June 30 after 41 years of work at the school.

He came to State as a student in 1964 and began his long career at WVSU as a professor in the education department. He went on to hold several leadership roles. In addition to serving as provost, he has been the school's vice president of planning and advancement and vice president of academic affairs.

President Brian O. Hemphill said following Byers' retirement next summer, he has agreed to serve a year as senior adviser to the president. His primary responsibilities will include overseeing the campus master plan and the university's accreditation. 

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. He earned a master's degree in fine arts from Ohio State University while working as a commercial artist and art teacher in Columbus, Ohio. 

He earned his Ph.D. from Kent State University and has more than 430 graduate hours from various higher education institutions.

Byers' first job at WVSU — working at the school bookstore — came when he was a student. During his undergraduate years, he was also an active student leader serving as Basileus Omega Psi Phi fraternity and as president of both the Pan Hellenic Council and the Men's Senate. 

Byers was instrumental in helping the school gain university status in 2004, something Byers describes as a career highlight. 

"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," he said. 

He also cited work with student organizations, faculty senate, land-grant programs, Title III programs, the WVSU Research and Development Corp. and the West Virginia State University Foundation as rewarding.