Dr. James Moore is officially installed as the 20th president of West Virginia Wesleyan College during an inauguration ceremony Friday. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik / My Buckhannon)

Wesleyan inaugurates Dr. James Moore as 20th president, brings back Dean of the Chapel position

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia Wesleyan College inaugurated its 20th president at Wesley Chapel Friday.

Dr. James Moore began teaching at WVWC in 2006 and has served as interim president since February 2022. His official inauguration as president took place on campus Sept. 29, when Moore addressed a chapel full of college officials, students, family and the Buckhannon-Upshur community.

“I can’t begin to tell you how honored and humbled I am to be standing here in this chapel on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College, a campus that has literally been the center of my life since I got here in 2006,” Moore said. “I want to thank the Board of Trustees for placing their trust in me and my cabinet and all of us here at this college. We will not let you down.”

Moore said Wesleyan shapes its students into future leaders and it molded him into the person that would become its president.

“In 2006 I showed up here as a 26-year-old jazz musician straight out of grad school, and I didn’t know that I needed West Virginia Wesleyan College,” he said. “Let me tell you what I found here, let me frame how this college shapes people, by telling you what this meant to me, someone who didn’t even go to school here, someone who thought this place would be the first stop on a journey to lots of other college jobs.”

Moore said coming to WVWC showed him a world outside his own academic discipline and taught him how different fields of study can work together.

“I needed learn that the right way for an institution of higher education to function is holistically and not in isolation,” Moore said. “I needed to be shown that as a member of a music faculty, I was part of something bigger. I needed to come to a place that really valued giving every student a transformational experience. I needed to come to a place where many of the best musicians I had in my ensemble weren’t even music majors.”

He also learned from his colleagues that students are the greatest measure of their success.

“What I found here was a community that was so invested in the success of our students that we, as faculty and staff, still fight over the best ways to serve our students,” Moore said. “My challenge to this college community is to define how we carry that inherent investment in the success of the traditional 18-year-old student, the success of the graduate student, and the success of the adult learner forward and reach as many learners as we can in as many ways as we can, in as many places as we can, as long as we can.”

He reflected on what it means to be a Methodist college.

“We are mandated by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church to create and sustain a learning environment that is diverse, challenging, forward thinking, an environment that welcomes people of all faiths, creeds, affiliations and stations in life,” Moore said. “We are not alone as a college in espousing these values, but as a member of the faculty for almost 20 years, we live John Wesley’s vision of what a learning community is supposed to be. I needed to come to a college that would eventually reconnect me with the church that I was lucky enough to grow up in as a kid.”

Moore also took the opportunity to announce the return of the Dean of the Chapel position.

“Most of our history has involved having somebody in a position known as Dean of the Chapel — someone who provides ministry here, comfort and support to the entire Wesleyan community — but some years ago, that position went away, and when it came back, it was something else, the director of religious and spiritual life,” Moore said. “I’m so lucky to have the current occupant, Jonathan Acord, as a member of my Cabinet and executive leadership team. Jonathan, you have been one of the brightest silver linings. I’ve seen your passion for campus ministry — it has given me resolve during tough times — and I’ve watched the way that our students are responding to you, and how you’ve worked to grow them into people who take ownership of their faith and of this college. That’s why today I’m pleased and honored to announce that Wesleyan will again have a Dean of the Chapel as I’m elevating Jonathon’s title accordingly.”

Moving forward, Moore emphasized how important it is to provide West Virginia with critically needed professionals.

“Our region needs a lot — we need teachers, we need nurses, we need medical health professionals, we need addiction recovery specialists, we need counselors and mental health professionals, we need pastors, we need primary care providers, and we need artists, writers and scientists,” Moore said. “We need the people who do these jobs to be educated not just in those fields, but we need them to be transformed into people who are empathetic, broadly educated, creative problem solvers, effective communicators and courageous. We need servant leaders, and we will prepare the next generation of servant leaders in order to meet the needs of West Virginia, Appalachia and the broader community.”

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