West Liberty University Board of Governors named Dr. Stephen Greiner our 36th President a little over a year ago and assumed the daily duties of president in January 2016. Since then he’s spent countless hours talking with students, alumni, staff, faculty and supporters, as he listens to concerns and shares his vision with the Hilltop.
Dr. Greiner brought with him an outstanding record of 14 years as a college president and 27 years as a faculty member, dean and administrator.
He holds a bachelor’s in education degree from the University of Kentucky, a master’s of public service from Western Kentucky University and a doctorate of education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech.).
He is an active member of the Rotary Club International and serves on the board of the Regional Economic Development Partnership, Wheeling.
He is most interested in community partnerships and last spring he completed the 90-day Community Fitness Challenge, sponsored by Wheeling’s McKinley Carter Wealth Services and Ryan Ferns Healthplex, as well as the Over the Edge rappelling challenge for the YWCA and the Dragon Boat Race. He is a member of Oglebay Institute.
A former athlete, Greiner graduated from Weir High School and is a proud member of its 1963 state championship basketball team. He and his wife, Nancy, are the parents of two grown children who live outside the area, 27-year-old twins John and Jacquelyn.
As a Weirton native who spent most of his professional career away from home, tell us how it feels to move back after so many years.
It is exhilarating being back. I didn’t really see this opportunity in my career path and returning to the Northern Panhandle is more meaningful than I ever imagined. It’s a combination of having an opportunity to lead an outstanding and well respected University, visiting familiar places, getting reacquainted with old friends and making new friends. And the bonus is having brothers and sisters here! (Dr. Greiner has two brothers and one sister, Nick resides in Weirton, W.Va.; John in Toronto, Ohio and Lisa DiCarlo in Mingo Junction, Ohio. His sister Carla Jo is deceased.)
After spending about a year at the helm of West Virginia’s oldest institution of higher education, what do you see as the biggest challenge facing the University.
Clearly the biggest challenge is the declining financial support from the state of West Virginia and increased dependence on tuition revenue. But there are other challenges too, which include an aging campus infrastructure and increasing demands of technology, among others.
How do you plan to address these obstacles?
We must reestablish budget priorities, focus on enrollment management, foster program growth, especially graduate programs, and we will need to consider public-private partnerships when it comes to infrastructure updates and building new facilities, such as student housing.
What is your message to alumni, donors, students and the entire campus community, as to involvement and how they can help?
I have been incredibly impressed with the current involvement with alumni and students. WLU is a very special place and I’m reminded of that everyday by alumni, students and donors. That’s something we never want to forget. WLU opened so many doors for so many people and they are grateful. It isn’t a cliché to say that: WLU is a window to the world for our students and alumni. Our students can start here and go anywhere.
On a more personal note, what world leader do you most admire?
That’s easy — Nelson Mandela, since I had the privilege of working for him once. It was in 1994, right after Mandela took over as president and I was the interim Dean of Education at Old Dominion University that had the world’s largest military transition program. I was invited by one of his generals to travel to South Africa and spend a week consulting on a project that involved transitioning military officers into civilian jobs.
What’s your favorite thing to do for relaxation?
Travel — when I get a chance.
Your favorite food?
Serbian food, including Sarma (cabbage rolls), Kupis i Grah, (beans and sauerkraut) and nut breads and rolls.
Finally, what is it that inspires you in your work?
To interact with students and learn about their thoughts and aspirations is the most inspiring part of my job. I’ve always taken the approach that to ask students what’s best for students is the right way to go. Everyday I have the chance to interact with our students, and to me there is no better job in the world!
PHOTO CREDITS – FRONT COVER AND FULL PAGE SPREAD pgs 2-3: REBECCA KIGER