The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sunday Profile

June 20, 2010

Dr. Charles Polk

— Although it had already been in existence for 57 years, in 1990, the future of Beckley College was murky at best.

In deep financial distress and still trying to regain its footing following the death of its longtime president, the two-year college was struggling.

A lot can change in 20 years.

In 1990, Dr. Charles Polk was in his 16th year as president of Daytona Beach Community College.

Polk was looking for a change, however, and the Texas native was ready to accept the same position at a community college in the Northeast.

Plans, as most know, can easily change.

“I had all but accepted the presidency of another school, but circumstance and talking to people here, who said, ‘You really should come here. We need you here,’ I made the decision to come here,” Polk said.

It was a risky move.

“When you look back on it and come to grips with what it (the school) was at that time and how much difficulty it was in, financially and otherwise, you almost have to say it was a little bit of insanity and a desire for punishment, I guess,” he said with a laugh.

“But I had this gambling spirit and risk-taking tendency and I thought it was just something I would really like to try to do.”

The first step for Polk upon his July 1, 1990, start date was to try to pull the school out of the financial cellar.

“We needed to try to get to a point where it could just breathe,” he said. “The first year was a year of really tightening things down, reducing numbers and trying to create an idea of what we could do, where we could go and what we could be.”

The president had some big dreams for the tiny school, which served between 800 and 900 students from its three buildings on South Kanawha Street.

Text Only
Sunday Profile
  • lilly tent Lillys of the Mountain State come home

    When Robert and Frances Lilly settled near the banks of the Bluestone River in the 1700s with their four sons, they might have dreamed it would be a place that their descendants would always call “home.”

    July 27, 2014 4 Photos

  • motion theatre Motion Theatre takes the stage at Vans Warped Tour

    Local rock band Motion Theatre performed Tuesday at its biggest venue yet — the Burgettstown, Pa. stop of the Vans Warped Tour.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • centerpiece jake Days of Jake

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • pickler Running down her dreams

    Pickler says she's thankful for all the blessings in her life

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • vase The Best of West Virginia

    Tamarack’s Seventh Annual Best of West Virginia Juried Exhibition has been deemed a success, according to Gallery Curator Molly Halstead.

    June 29, 2014 6 Photos

  • chophouse couple 3-0-4 W-O-W

    What has happened to the old Boggs’ Bait Shop building and the former home of Ray and Elfa Boggs at the foot of Raleigh Hill in Beaver is more transfiguration than transformation. 304 ChopHouse owners J.P. Hunter and Anita Hunter are a pair of discriminating do-it-yourselfers — and they’ve proved from rave reviews about their new restaurant to be more than just what meets the eye. The food arriving from the immaculate kitchen bearing the titular 3-0-4 area code is as surprising an experience as the interior and exterior overhaul.

    June 22, 2014 4 Photos

  • Hospice 1.jpg ‘It’s a dream come true’

    From the professional landscaping that surrounds the pillared portico to the warm fireplace that serves as a focal point in the lofty great room, very few features of the region’s newest health care facility appear in the least institutional.

    June 15, 2014 5 Photos

  • 052514 Profile Patty Johnston 3.jpg A most loyal servant

    A longtime Beckley pharmacist is being awarded with West Virginia University’s highest honor — Order of Vandalia.

    May 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • full flower table Flowers are nourishing in more ways than one

    Summertime is the season when the earth bursts with life. From roses and sunflowers to nasturtiums and pansies, West Virginia comes into its fullness of color and fragrance when the sun is the brightest.

    May 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • twv director 1 Community rallies around Theatre West Virginia

    Theatre West Virginia is more than just a theater company — it’s a family.

    May 11, 2014 2 Photos