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Shepherd University president to take Texas post

Journal photo Suzanne Shipley
Journal photo
Suzanne Shipley

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. — There’s no place like home for Shepherd University President Dr. Suzanne Shipley, who plans to accept the presidency at Midwestern State University.

Shipley, who grew up in Lubbock, Texas, was named as the “sole finalist” for this new position after the MSU Board of Regents unanimously endorsed her at a special meeting Monday. The announcement was made on the Wichita Falls, Texas, school’s website Monday night.

By Texas state law, university governing boards must name finalists for president at least 21 days before making an appointment. At that time, board of regents members will meet again to make the appointment – and Shipley can officially accept the position, she said. Current plans call for leaving sometime in July for this new job, she said.

But that doesn’t mean saying goodbye will be easy, Shipley said, adding that both she and her husband quickly came to love Shepherdstown and life in the Eastern Panhandle after moving here in 2007.

“Randy and I fell in love right away, and these have really been the best eight years of my life,” she said.

A planner by nature, Shipley said she hopes Shepherd’s next president will benefit by the work and projects that are already underway or set to begin in the near future.

“Planning is my specialty, and I think the best is yet to come for Shepherd University because that’s what I want to happen,” she said.

A large part of her decision was based on personal factors, including being closer to her 90-year-old mother, Shipley said.

“It’s just the right thing to do. I want to help my brother and my mother. I want to be a better sister and daughter,” she said.

As a youngster, Shipley participated in campus performances, athletic events and summer programs for children at nearby Texas Tech University, where she would later earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Being a native Texan wasn’t the only reason for her selection, especially given her impressive higher education experience, said Shawn Hessing, Midwestern State board of regents chairman.

“Our search for the next president was comprehensive and inclusive,” Hessing said in a press release. “Dr. Shipley’s qualifications and proven record of leadership made her our top choice.”

He said Shipley was identified as the “top candidate in a robust pool of applicants.”

She will succeed President Jesse W. Rogers, who will retire after 48 years of service to the university. Founded in 1922, Midwestern State University is a master’s degree-granting, public liberal arts university.

It’s a good fit, according to Shipley, since MSU is the only member of the Texas Colleges and Universities System to be a member of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges – of which she currently serves as president. Shepherd University is also a member of COPLAC.

The schools have similar enrollment, with MSU slightly larger with approximately 6,000 students compared to Shepherd’s 4,300 students. Shipley said.

“I will miss Shepherd more than I can really say, but I think this is going to be a good match,” she said.

– Staff writer Jenni Vincent can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 131.

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