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Using Evans Mistake As Learning Moment

West Liberty University President W. Franklin Evans has his work cut out for him over the coming months. Not only does he need to regain the faith and trust of his board of governors following their narrow vote Wednesday to retain him as president, he also must figure out a way to work with the faculty and regain the trust of students.

Following a two-hour, closed-door session Wednesday, West Liberty’s Board of Governors voted seven to five to not fire Evans for multiple instances of plagiarism. The board instead opted to place Evans under an unspecified disciplinary action, noting the board would work with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to come up with a plan of action.

That’s a step in the right direction — but it can’t be the only step taken. Consider: five of the 12 board members voted to terminate Evans’ employment, and the faculty senate’s members have noted their lack of confidence in the president. This won’t be as simple as Evans following a course of action and hoping the matter goes away.

Instead, Evans should spend the next several months visiting every classroom on campus, talking with students and professors on the importance of academic integrity and also the correct way to credit others for their work. He needs to turn this into a learning moment, one that will help not only students and the university grow, but also Evans himself. Doing that would show he takes this matter seriously — and that he intends to help others avoid the same mistake.

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