Students in Joyce Stover’s English class at the West Virginia University of Parkersburg’s Jackson County campus received a treat recently when Dr. Christopher Gilmer, president of WVU Parkersburg, stopped by to teach Stover’s class for the day.

Gilmer is a professor of Humanities at the university and has taught English classes for many years.

“With a background in English, I knew that was a class I was qualified to teach,” Gilmer joked.

During his visit, Gilmer read the short story “Why I Live at the P.O.” by Eudora Welty. With his deep southern draw, he kept the class in stitches as he emphasized the individual voices of each character.

Gilmer, originally from Mississippi, has been the president of WVU Parkersburg for almost 10 months. He will be celebrating his one-year anniversary at the college in June.

The decision to move to West Virginia stemmed from a need to explore a presidency, but he wanted to do so in an area similar to his own in Mississippi. He was looking for a rural area with a lot of first-generation college students.

“I wanted to be in an area with people who grew up like I did,” Gilmer said. “With people who had to work a little harder and sacrifice a little more to make college a reality for them and West Virginia seemed like a good fit. It has provided me with that feeling of home that I was looking for. ”

Gilmer values his role as president at WVU Parkersburg and wants students to know how important it is to remember the arts and those things that “make us human.”

“I want us to be known as a college that not only thinks about preparing our students to be productive citizens in the workplace, but as a college that wants our students to be able to uphold those strong traditions of the arts as well.” Gilmer said.

Being invited to teach Stover’s class was “such a treat” for Gilmer because he wants the people of Jackson County and surrounding areas to realize that WVU Parkersburg is a two campus university and both are equally important to him.