Meet the Finalists for the 13th President of West Virginia State University


West Virginia State University Presidential Finalists Named

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109

March 9, 2022
West Virginia State University Presidential Finalists Named
Three Higher Education Leaders to Visit WVSU’s Campus Next Week
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – The West Virginia State University (WVSU) Presidential Search Committee has selected three higher education leaders as the finalists to become the 13th president of the University.

Ericke S. Cage, J.D., LL.M., interim president of West Virginia State University; Dr. Lawrence T. Potter, Jr., chief academic officer and provost for the University of the District of Columbia; and Dr. Melva Williams, vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at Southern University at Shreveport, have been invited to campus next week to meet with various WVSU constituent groups.

The meetings with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community leaders will take place in the James C. Wilson University Union starting Monday, March 14, and continue through Wednesday, March 16. The meetings will also be available virtually via Zoom.

Williams will be on the WVSU campus Monday, March 14. While serving as vice chancellor for student affairs and enrollment management at Southern Shreveport, she has achieved several historic enrollments, increased retention rates, and assisted in development of three new campus buildings.

Williams formerly worked in Academic Affairs in senior leadership as the associate dean of the college at Centenary College of Louisiana. Under her leadership at Centenary, the college recognized increased retention rates. Because of her philanthropic efforts, Williams currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Centenary.

Additionally, she has also served in higher education administration at Grambling State University and the Southern University System where she was the first chief of staff managing five campuses and over 15,000 students within the state of Louisiana. While at the Southern University System, she held the role of assistant vice president for academic and student affairs.

Williams is active in state and national service and has received numerous awards and commendations. She’s an alumna of Leadership Louisiana, Top 40 under 40, and was named Top Professional of the Year by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce. She was selected in 2016 to participate in the Presidential Leadership Scholars program where she was able to study leadership with three former American Presidents (President George H. W. Bush, President William J. Clinton, and President George W. Bush).

Williams earned bachelor’s degree in mass communication from Grambling State University and her master’s degree in public administration, also from Grambling State. She earned a doctorate degree in higher education from Jackson State University.

Potter will be on campus, Tuesday, March 15. He was appointed chief academic officer /provost and a tenured professor of English at the University of the District of Columbia in February 2019. He leads six academic colleges and schools, graduate and professional education, continuing and professional education, workforce development, research and sponsored programs, university libraries, and teaching and learning. He has oversight for developing academic programs leading to associates, baccalaureate, masters, doctoral, and Juris doctorate levels as well as non-academic certifications.

Potter has a 25-year career in higher education in roles that include: serving as a tenured professor, department chair, associate dean, college dean at two Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs; HBCU and HSI), two-time inaugural chief diversity officer (CDO), and Director/Principal Investigator for almost $20 million in extramurally-funded grants and contracts.

Potter is an experienced thought-leader, accomplished educator, speaker, and author. His professional experiences at diverse types of U.S. higher education institutions (public/private, liberal arts/comprehensive/research-intensive, urban/rural/regional, HBCU/HSI/PWI) have made him a highly sought-after speaker and expert on matters related to college access, student success and retention initiatives, faculty development and advancement, academic and strategic planning, institutional climate and culture (equity, inclusion, and belonging), international educational partnerships, curricular innovation, and entrepreneurial growth, as well as fundraising/friends-raising.

Potter graduated magna cum laude with a triple major in English, philosophy, and religion from Stillman College and a master’s and Ph.D. in English, with distinction, from the University of Missouri-Columbia. A leading scholar of race and representation in American and African American literature, Potter has traveled and lectured extensively in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Cage will present to the WVSU constituent groups on Wednesday, March 16. He has served as the interim president of West Virginia State University since September 2021 when he was unanimously appointed to the position by the WVSU Board of Governors.

A native of Halifax County, Virginia, Cage joined the university in July 2021 as vice president and chief of staff and was subsequently appointed by the Board as the university’s chief operating officer on July 30, 2021, with responsibility for managing the day-to-day operations of the university. Since assuming the leadership of West Virginia State University, Cage has prioritized institutional stabilization and operational optimization, renewal of the “State spirit,” the development and expansion of high demand academic programs, and the cultivation of a diverse range of internal and external relationships to support WVSU’s forward momentum and growth.

Prior to joining WVSU, Cage most recently served as executive advisor to the president and Board of Visitors at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia – where as a member of the university’s executive management team he served as principal advisor to the university president and board of visitors on matters related to institutional policy making, governance, government relations, and university ombudsman. Cage also served as speechwriter for Norfolk State’s presidents and board chairs.

While at Norfolk State University, Cage led the university’s 2019-2025 strategic plan committee, served as the chief architect of the university’s 2019-2020 self-assessment, and modernized the university’s policymaking process to improve decision making and compliance. As a former education lobbyist, Cage was instrumental in expanding Norfolk State’s presence and impact on Capitol Hill and before the Virginia General Assembly.

Prior to joining Norfolk State University, Cage served as director of government affairs for Teach for America, and also served as state policy and research director for the Obama-Biden 2012 reelection campaign. Cage served as legislative counsel for U.S. Congressman Tom Perriello, where he managed a legislative portfolio that included federal education, healthcare, defense, and veterans affairs policy.  Cage also served as a law clerk for the U.S. Department of Defense, and a legislative fellow for the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Cage began his professional career as a high school government teacher in his hometown of Halifax County, Virginia, where he was named teacher of the year by the senior class in 2004.

Cage is a graduate of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in leadership studies. He holds a juris doctorate from the Rutgers University Law School. He holds a masters of law degree in litigation and dispute resolution from the George Washington University Law School. He is also a graduate of the United States Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College and the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership.

For more information about the finalists, visit

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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