West Liberty University Board Votes to End the Tenure of the University’s First Black President

In January 2021, W. Franklin Evans took over as the 37th president of West Liberty University in West Virginia. Dr. Evans was the first African-American president in the university’s then 183-year history.

West Liberty University, located in the northern panhandle of West Virginia near Wheeling, is a state-operated educational institution that enrolls about 2,100 undergraduate students and slightly more than 200 graduate students according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education. African Americans make up just 4 percent of the undergraduate student body.

Recently, in an 8-4 vote, the university’s board of governors decided not to renew President Evans’ contract after this year, ending his tenure at West Liberty at two years.

The board met behind closed doors in executive session for 55 minutes before rejecting a motion to offer a one-year extension to Evans’ contract through 2023. Last October, Dr. Evans narrowly avoided being fired after he had been accused of and later admitted to plagiarism. By a vote of 14 to 1, the faculty senate had issued a vote of no confidence in the president.

Before coming to West Liberty University, Dr. Evans was president of what is now Voorhees University in Denmark, South Carolina. He is the former provost and chief academic officer at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg, where he also served as interim president. Earlier in his career, he was vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Union University in Richmond.

Dr. Evans is a graduate of the University of Georgia, where he majored in entomology. He holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in higher education administration from Georgia State University in Atlanta.

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  1. This is sad. I worked with Dr. Evans at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina from 2008 to 2009.

  2. Dr. Evans is an honorable man. This vote is not reflective of his ability to lead and inspire.
    The plagairism issue has been sensationalized and is not completely accurate. The truth is this university was not ready nor welcoming of its first Black president.

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