FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — Pierpont Community and Technical College welcomed its new interim president, Kathleen Nelson Ph.D., at the Advanced Technology Center on Wednesday.

Nelson has more than 13 years of presidential experience from Lake Superior College (LSC) in Duluth, Minnesota, from which she eventually retired. After retiring, Nelson was a higher education consultant with the Higher Learning Commission on regional accreditation issues. She also served as interim president at Glenville State University during the 2019 and 2020 years.

In 2019, Nelson joined The Registry, which is to “support states in joining efforts building state-of-the-art registries, thereby supporting the education and professional development of the early care and education workforce.” Her contract is through The Registry and is currently signed for eight to 12 months while Pierpont continues looking for a permanent president. Her duties started on Friday, July 1, but she will be working with the board until they find somebody to take over.

During the welcoming of the new Interim President, David Hinkle, chairman of Pierpont’s Board of Governors, had taken Nelson’s hand in his and told the room that they are planning to “reset” the institution. The “reset” comes from the years of institutions combining and pulling apart, along with the surrounding natural chaotic process. They also mentioned that they have several new board members as well.

As Nelson takes on the interim position, she mentioned that everyone can expect open communication and transparency from her. When introducing herself outside of a big event, she likes for people to call her “Kathy” because she is part of the community too.

Nelson explained what the community should expect of her.

“A lot of times, I think institutions get into a habit of doing the work that happens at the moment,” Nelson said. “And, I’m a planner. And so, we think about what we want to do, how we can connect it to our strategic plan, and then we hold people accountable for that.”

When discussing the mission of Pierpont and what she feels is not usually focused on enough, Nelson admitted that she thinks they need to be out working with the communities to see what kind of training and education they need. Not only does the grounding of community and technical colleges across the nation have to do with students coming to get a degree, but they also have a responsibility, duty, and mission for serving businesses in the communities.

One thing they would like to explore more is how to reach out to their adult learners and how to bring them into the college, with a friendly environment where they can be successful immediately.

“A lot of the time, adults have never been to college before,” Nelson said. “They have a sense that it is fearful, but we have to see how we can help them step into education by developing courses and programs that take them a step at a time and help them feel successful, to gain that confidence.”

She added that they would like to reach out to those who have dropped out, to help them figure out what was missing and what circumstances played into those decisions, so they can do their part in making the institution better overall.