By Lawrence J. Smith

CHARLESTON - The agency overseeing the state's higher education system made it official in hiring the number two man at Tennessee's higher education system as West Virginia's new chancellor.

Friday's recommendation by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission's search committee that Brian E. Noland, associate executive director of policy at the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, be the next chancellor came as no surprise.

Commission officials earlier in the week hinted that Noland would be recommended, and his competitor in the search, former Appalachian State University Chancellor Francis T. Borkowski, all but conceded defeat in an interview with the Hur Herald published Wednesday.

The recommendation was made during the Commission's regularly scheduled meeting at the Marshall University Graduate College in South Charleston. Upon accepting the search committee's recommendation, the commission voted unanimously to approve it, said chairwoman Mary Claire Eros.

Both Noland and Borkowski were exceptional candidates, Eros said. However, Eros said, Noland's extensive work with Tennessee's legislature in formulating policy, his ability to build consensus, previous ties to West Virginia and explain complicated educational matters in a manner in which anyone can understand gave him the edge.

"They were both very good, " Eros said. "His [Noland's] constellation of strengths meets our expectations best."

Though not in attendance at Friday's meeting, Noland has accepted the position Eros said. Upon signing a contract - that Eros is in the process of drafting - Noland becomes chancellor effective May 31 and be paid a yearly salary of $147,500, Eros said.

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