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Lucas: West Liberty University Board – Not HR – Will Make Decision About President W. Franklin Evans

W. Franklin Evans

WEST LIBERTY — The West Liberty University Board of Governors has asked the schools’ human resources department to gather information pertaining to plagiarism accusations against WLU President W. Franklin Evans, but HR staff won’t be involved in any determinations about their boss, according to board chairman Rich Lucas.

“The Board of Governors will make all decisions, and Human Resources is the correct source to collect information,” Lucas said Friday.

“HR will not discuss or report to Dr. Evans regarding this matter.”

His words back up statements he made at the board of governors Wednesday, when the matter was referred to the human resources department.

“Human Resources will provide all requested information to the full Board of Governors with all pertinent materials,” Lucas said Wednesday. “Human Resources will come back to the board after all requested information is reviewed. The Board of Governors will make a final resolution.”

WLU Faculty Senate President Sean Ryan said it was now time to let human resources staff do their job.

“The chairman of the board said he was deferring to human resources to get specific information needed by the board. That specific information has been requested,” he said.

“To that end, I believe human resources will put together the information requested. I believe human resources is going to give the board answers.”

The faculty senate members are scheduled to meet virtually via a closed Zoom session set for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Ryan said he is certain the plagiarism accusations against Evans “will be a topic of discussion.”

Results of a faculty senate survey were read aloud during the WLU Board of Governors meeting on Wednesday, and they suggest a strong pushback against Evans by staff.

Eighty-six percent of the respondents indicated in the survey they believe Evans’ leadership has been compromised following the plagiarism revelations. While 45% believe the issues can be resolved through punitive action from the board of governors, another 73% said they had no confidence in Evans’ leadership.

Sixty percent of those voting ‘no confidence’ would also vote as a request for resignation, according to the survey. About 95 of the WLU’s 145 faculty members responded to the survey.

“The faculty voiced a very strong opinion,” Ryan said. “At this point, I believe we need to give the board the time to work through the process, and do its job.”

Diana Harto, chief human resources officer, said she is “glad to assist the Board of Governors so they can make an informed decision on this matter.”

“I have already met with the faculty representative to the Board of Governors, Jason Metz, to collect all materials related to the faculty accusations,” she said. “This information will be provided to the board members to allow for a consistent review.”

Earlier this month, Evans came under fire when it was discovered he had lifted quotes, without attribution, from a variety of sources for his fall convocation speech on Sept. 15, a speech he gave on Juneteenth and a speech he had given on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He subsequently apologized in a letter to the university.

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