Welcome to Bluefield at 100! Bluefield College is celebrating 100 years and has undergone a name change! Each week, in honor of this milestone, The Confusing Middle will shine the spotlight on an individual who spent time at Bluefield University, giving them a chance to fill us all in on where they are and how they’ve been doing since the college years. I hope you’ll join us back here every week as we get reacquainted with some old friends!
This week we’re hearing from Joshua Cline!
- What have you been up to since your time in Bluefield?
I never left Bluefield! If you would have told a “freshman year” me this, I would have never believed you and would have most likely been scared to know why I stayed. After I graduated, I was offered a position as an Advancement Officer in the Office of Institutional Advancement. When my grandmother asked me what that means, I replied that I get to talk to people about Bluefield. She responded that I would be good at that with my big mouth, and I retorted that it was an inherited trait! The joys of a big family…
I then became the Director of Alumni Relations following Teresa Stanley and took on the Annual Fund (formerly the BC Fund and now The University Fund) in my last year too. I moved from there to the City of Bluefield, West Virginia where I ended as the Assistant City Manager and focused on economic development, city planning, and community relations. That took me to the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce where I had been a board member before becoming its President/CEO. My main project there was to merge the Chamber with the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber to create a regional organization. I did that and it became the Chamber of Commerce of the Two Virginias. It was a great time where I served in a lot of community and state organizations in Virginia and West Virginia, including the Board of Trustees at Bluefield College.
In the summer of 2019, Dr. Olive asked me if I would be interested in coming off the Trustee Board to work at Bluefield. The $18 million Centennial Campaign, rebranding, new partnerships, and projects that have come to fruition recently were a big part of the draw. I instantly said yes because of my love for my alma mater and its impact on the community and region. Since then I have been staying part of the community.
- Where are you living now? For how long?
I live in Bluefield, West Virginia. After graduation, my mom passed away, so I moved home to Tazewell where I worked and helped with my youngest brother who was still in high school. Then I moved to Bluefield, Virginia before becoming a homeowner in Bluefield, West Virginia when Peyton and I bought our house.
- Did you pursue any education after college? If so, what degrees have you obtained?
I began a master’s program in Public Administration at Marshall University while I worked at the City of Bluefield, West Virginia. Then we had kids, changed jobs, and life got busy so it got put on hold right at the end. I am working on finishing up soon though and will be glad to be finished!
- Where did you earn your first “grown-up” paycheck?
My freshman year at Bluefield my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer despite not being a smoker. She owned a real estate firm with two offices in Tazewell County. She asked me if I would get my real estate license and work for her in the summer to help her manage showings, closings, and staffing the offices. I did and earned my first commission later that summer.
- Who is your current employer and what is your job title?
I work at Bluefield University as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement.
- What are your hobbies? What do you end up doing in your spare time?
It is not a hobby, but I end up spending a lot of my spare time working on community boards and groups. I am still involved with several agencies and groups, engaged at Westminister Presbyterian Church, and am a member of Bluefield, West Virginia Rotary. It keeps me busy. For fun though, I enjoy playing golf and reading. I think of myself as a foodie and cook a lot and also enjoy spending time with my family because it feels like there is never enough time with my boys during the week. During the pandemic, my middle brother and I picked up fly fishing, and that has been a new favorite way to spend my free time.
- Have you done much traveling? Where have you visited?
When we took our honeymoon, my mother-in-law made a recommendation to keep a journal and write about every trip you take together. She shared that if you are fortunate enough to travel and travel often, you should keep a record of it. Write down where you ate, what you did, who you were with, memories made, etc. She shared that there will come a day that it will be a distant memory or you may forget it and it can be a source of happiness when needed. So for our first anniversary (paper if you follow the traditional gift list), I bought Peyton a leather-bound journal and matching maps of the world and U.S. We have a pushpin in every location that we’ve been and an entry on the trip.
This has been a source of happiness for us. It has been a great source when making recommendations to others if they are traveling to a place we have been. We have not been outside of the U.S., but we have been to several states. I have a personal goal of seeing all of the state capitol buildings. I have a nerdy love for the architecture and the history behind why they are there and what has happened in the buildings.
- Are you married? If so, who is your spouse?
I am. I married Peyton Morhous from Bluefield, West Virginia.
- How did you and your spouse meet?
We were introduced by Mike Harris (class of 1997). He was on the Alumni Board at the time I was the Director of Alumni Relations. We were headed to a meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia. At mile marker 202 on I-81N, he turned and out of the blue said, “You need to meet my friend Peyton.” They worked together as pharmacists at Wal-Mart in Bluefield. I responded sure and we met on a blind date on September 1, 2011. That night we both, without knowing, called our families to let them know we met the person we were going to marry. I proposed in New York City on New Year’s Eve and we were married on September 1, 2012, in Bluefield. What is ironic about it is that we have so many friends and groups of friends in common but had never met. She was to move to Atlanta just before we met but suddenly felt she was not supposed to leave Bluefield. I had been in a serious relationship a year before with someone wonderful but knew in my gut this was not who I was to marry. It was all about timing. The moral of the story is a lot can change in a year and you should listen to those small voices and gut feelings in life.
- Do you have children? What are their names/ages?
We have two boys, Crawford Lee (4) and Chandler Lawrence (3). Being called dad is my favorite title in life. I never knew for sure if I would be a father, so I believe that is why I have a lot of reverence for it.
- Tell us a funny story about your kids…
Our boys are Irish twins (11 months apart). They play off of each other in their humor. I am sometimes called Dada, Daddy, or Dad when they want something. But most times, I am called “Josh Cline.” Used in context, I will say something to tease Crawford, and he will respond “Josh Cline! You don’t say that to me,” while laughing the whole time and Chandler will then echo it. They think they are funny and it always makes other people laugh when they hear it for the first time.
- What was your favorite class at Bluefield?
The Rampage. I enjoyed it because I discovered I could communicate and write in a concise, effective way. That has been a major part of my professional life. I also enjoyed Personal Finance and Business Policy.
- Which teachers influenced your life and made a lasting impression? Why?
Dee Shoemaker, Mimi Merritt, Cindy Bascom were key faculty members that impacted my life during college. I am forever indebted to these incredible women for guiding me and acting as cheerleaders in my life. I also am thankful for staff members like David Taylor who was always a source of laughter and fun, Barbara in the cafeteria who was always there to make you feel at home, and several others who helped me along the way.
- What was your major and/or minor?
I was a business major with a communications minor that I should have finished out into a second bachelor’s degree but I never did.
- What did you want to be when you “grew up?”
I went to college to be an OB/GYN and deliver babies in Africa either on mission or with an NGO. Marriage and family were never on my horizon as a freshman. I tell students at the University when I speak with them about life plans that if you think you have your life totally planned out, just wait it can, and probably will change. If you would have told the 2005 high school graduate version of me that I would still be in Southwest Virginia/Southern West Virginia almost twenty years later married with two kids, I would have laughed in your face. God has plans for each of us that we may not have the full scope of yet, so be open to experiences and opportunities as they arise in life.
- What was your funniest moment in college?
Oh wow… there are so many good things I remember. I will choose one with photo evidence. My senior year at Mud Pig Day I had been going down the slide having a good time. My friend Kayla Lewis, now Kayla Hartley, had not gone down the slide. We posed for a photo with her hesitantly hugging me covered in grass and oil. In the next photo, I chose to shake the oil, water, and grass on her. Her face said it all. I appreciated her good humor about it!
- What was your most embarrassing moment?
I really do not think anything was embarrassing other than the fashion choices I had then. I wore flip-flops and flipped my polo collars. I also wore pookah shell necklaces. Although I hear they are making a come back now!
- What was the dumbest thing you did in college? Was it worth it?
I made dumb decisions that many college students make. I think Jennifer Mitchell said it best by saying I drove when I should not have… when it was late. However, I think the dumbest thing I did was to not get involved on campus as much as I should have my freshman year. I spent a lot of time running to other universities and colleges to see friends and I worked a lot. I was hesitant to get involved, but when I did I had a blast.
- What is your most vivid memory from Bluefield College?
This is a hard one. I will choose time spent with the C2 crew as my vivid memory. This group of people is still important in my life today. The moments spent with them are cherished memories I will keep forever. A specific example is sitting in the entryway to Rish Hall playing the card game Mafia. The laughter that came from dumb statements like “kill, kill, kill” to mimic a horror movie and “pee in the bushes” being made while everyone’s eyes were closed still make me laugh. It is a had to be there memory for me, but these folks will hopefully smile too as they recall it.
- Was there ever something you wanted to do during your college days but never did?
I was invited to join the soccer team with no scholarship funds my freshman year as I guess the equivalent of a walk-on. I still wonder what would have happened if I played versus working that year.
- What was your go-to during Late Night in the Shott Hall dining room?
Always mozzarella sticks with honey mustard dipping sauce. It is a weird combo but it hit the spot.
- Did you play any sports?
I did not.
- How about intramurals?
I did not because I worked in the evenings at The Villa and could not make it to games or practices.
- Did you pledge with a fraternity or sorority?
A few others of us began a fraternity while we were at Bluefield: Omega Mu Kappa. Our colors were navy with silver letters. It was a great group of guys, but seemed to fall off and did not continue. We did paint the rocks across the road, so for a while, that reminder was there.
- Were you involved in any other extracurriculars (theater, yearbook, clubs, etc.)?
I wrote for The Rampage and participated in the spring break mission trip to South Africa my junior year. I was also involved with Phi Beta Lambda and was our chapter president and the president of the Virginia chapter my senior year. That was a fun experience and was a great professional development opportunity.
- What on-campus events did you enjoy participating in or attending?
I enjoyed games that were played in the Quad when it was warm outside, like capture the flag. I also participated in phone-a-thon, which is funny because I oversee the area of campus that runs it now.
- Did you jump into the mud pit on Mud Pig Day?
- Did you have a work-study job on campus?
I did not.
- Did you have a job off campus?
I sold real estate for my mom’s company, waited tables/cooked at The Villa, and was a lifeguard at Tazewell County Country Club.
- Which dorm did you live in? Or did you commute?
I lived in Cruise Hall all four years and loved it. My freshman year was with Justin Thompson, my best friend growing up, for the first semester then he transferred to Radford University and I had a single room my freshman year. My sophomore year was with Ryan Moore and Josh Bishop. My junior year was with Justin Spracher, and my senior year was with Victor Lohr. I also had awesome suitemates each year! Kris and Sharde Hardy lived across the hall my senior year as RHD’s and they were great too.
- Tell us your craziest roommate story…
Not necessarily a roommate story, but a suitemate one. I met Josh Grubb, Chad Arnold, and James Doss when Josh tossed an Axe bomb in our room the first night. My room smelled like a middle school boy for a month and we laughed hard about it that night. It was worth the smell because we all became friends and have been ever since. There’s also a story about a chip bag, but I will leave that for another time.
- Which classmate influenced you the most?
Josh Grubb is the answer to this question for me. As students, we completed an internship together helping a retired missionary catalog handmade crafts he purchased over decades to sell online. His wit and intellect inspired me. That has only grown in our time working together at the University. Josh pushes me, often without having to say anything but in the way he lives his life, to be a better version of myself. He is one of the hardest working, humblest, and honest people I know. I will always be grateful for our friendship and his character. He will hate reading this, but it is true. Thanks, Josh Grubb!
- What personal experiences since college would you like to share?
The people I have been connected with in life are what I cherish most about Bluefield. They have shown up for me and my family at key moments in life. As a student, I was given opportunities by faculty and staff members. I would not have been the state PBL president without Dee Shoemaker going the extra mile to ensure PBL was vibrant and alive. I know that took time and effort out of her busy life as a professor and mom. I would not be in the professional roles I am in had David Olive and Ruth Blankenship not provided me opportunities.
After I graduated and was working at Bluefield my first time, my mom passed away. So many of my coworkers were there for me during the loss of my rock in life. I could never say thank you enough to them for their kindness shown during that very difficult time. More recently when Chandler was born, is another example of the goodness of Bluefield friends. Peyton’s water broke at 28 weeks. Our family spent a good amount of time at Roanoke Memorial in the NICU. I will always be thankful for our many Bluefield friends. So many from the Roanoke region supported us during that time. Many of my fellow trustees and other alumni friends reached out too. It meant the world to us because the unknown of the situation created a lot of anxiety and fear for us. Our friends provided a sense of normalcy and even fun in the midst of this uncertainty.
- What plans do you have for the next 10 years?
In my family life, I want to be traveling with my kids exposing them to the world they are part of and enjoying time together as a family. In the next decade, they will be discovering their gifts and talents. I want to be a trusted reference and person they confide in during this formidable time and throughout their lives. Showing up and being present in this time period is important, especially as they figure out how to best use their talents and learn to live a principled life of purpose and joy.
In my work and education, I want to complete a terminal degree and have in-depth expertise in a particular subject area. I feel like one of the benefits I received from my liberal arts education is an appreciation and broad-based knowledge of many subjects. However, I want to be able to speak or teach at some point on a specific thing in life as some sort of expert.
In my service life, I hope I am still engaged in the public domain and volunteering. I enjoy being part of community development initiatives and public policy formation. I like bringing together multiple parties to solve a problem. I have pretty firm beliefs I could ramble about concerning society’s ability to a lot of our problems by individuals and organizations focusing time and resources on our own communities’ needs versus state and national level politics and lobbying. I also firmly believe that sustained local investment and pride in a community makes a major difference in the attractiveness of a place to live or to engage outside economic forces. I hope I am still advocating for those things.
- Give us a quote to live by…
My dad was the worship leader in my home church, so many lines from hymnals often come to mind for me. Nothing specific as different phrases come to mind at different times. As I have gotten older, I have grown more thankful for those songs and words. They provide assurance in moments of despair and serve as a reminder to give thanks for this life I have been given.
I want to thank Josh for taking time to answer all these questions and for sharing with us this week! Come back next week when another Bluefield survivor takes the hot seat!
And if you spent time at Bluefield College and want to participate, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the full list of questions! Until next time, GO RAMS!