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West Liberty University Board of Governors Calls Special Meeting

W. Franklin Evans

WEST LIBERTY — A special meeting of West Liberty University’s Board of Governors is set for Friday morning, with a sole agenda item of assessing university President W. Franklin Evans.

At the meeting, set for 10 a.m., board members will gather behind closed doors in executive session for the president’s assessment. Following that, the agenda states, any actions emanating from the assessment will take place. No other items are listed.

Rich Lucas, who chairs the Board, said Wednesday that the university’s policy is for a president to receive an assessment after their first year, followed by a full evaluation after the third year.

“Right now, the Board of Governors and governance committee are in the middle of the first year of service’s assessment,” Lucas said. “We want to have it completed sometime in early June; we started it a month, two months ago. … We are moving through the process, and Friday’s meeting, likely, will just be an executive session to continue the process of the president’s assessment.”

WLU representatives did not have any comment regarding the matter on Wednesday. Faculty senate chair Sean Ryan and Evans himself were unable to be reached for comment.

Evans had been under intense scrutiny in recent months, surviving termination with a 7-5 vote to retain him as president in the autumn after being caught in a plagiarism scandal.

More recently, Evans’ unpopularity among school faculty was spotlighted when the results of an internal survey among faculty indicated widespread distrust in his transparency, personal integrity and ability to lead the university.

Evans then spoke out about the survey, saying it wasn’t a fair instrument to accurately show the feelings of the faculty, and questioned whether he was being held to a different standard than past WLU presidents at least partially due to his race. Evans is WLU’s first Black president.

“It speaks to me, coming from a marginalized group, it’s not the same behavior that had been expected before,” he said. “Why is it different for me? … It’s the everyday, day-in-and-out, unrealistic expectations they have for me, and it really is biased. These are not the expectations that existed before. Why, all of a sudden, are they existing now? Is it because I’m younger than the other presidents? Is it because I’m a single parent? I would say no. It has to do with the four-letter word we don’t like to talk about.”


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