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West Liberty University names W. Franklin Evans president

WEST LIBERTY – West Liberty University’s Board of Governors named W. Franklin Evans as the university’s 37th president on Thursday.

“I am pleased to announce that Dr. W. Franklin Evans has accepted our offer and agreed to become West Liberty University’s 37th president. He will be a strong leader and we welcome him to the hilltop and look forward to introducing him to our alumni, donors, friends and the wider community,” said Rich Lucas, chairman of the search committee and the Board of Governors.

Evans will be the first black president in the 183-year history of the university and will assume the presidency on Jan. 1, 2021.

“It is a great honor being selected as the next president of West Liberty University, the oldest and most historic public institution in the state. I am grateful to the West Liberty University Board of Governors for its confidence and support in my selection to lead this amazing institution,” said Evans.

President Evans will succeed Dr. Stephen Greiner who has served as president since January 2016.

“This is an exciting day for West Liberty University and our students as we look toward the future. Our Presidential Search Committee is to be commended for their dedicated and diligent work during a most unusual time. I also want to thank President Greiner for his dedication and leadership during the pandemic and his willingness to see the job through and remain in his role until our new president could be found,” Lucas said.

Evans is the current president of Voorhees College and has 25 years of experience in education. Prior to being named president, Evans served as interim president of South Carolina State University (SCSU), in Orangeburg, S.C., where he also served as the provost and chief academic officer.

Under his leadership at SCSU, enrollment exceeded its goal and fundraising increased by 687%, alumni support improved, and the university achieved a balanced budget. He is an experienced fundraiser and grant writer.

Previously he served as vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Va., where he was instrumental in leading the institution through a successful reaffirmation of accreditation and establishing an Honors College, along with both a bachelor’s of fine arts and master’s in education degrees.

He also has worked at Elizabeth City State, J. F. Drake State Technical College, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Tennessee State University.

In 1994, Evans earned a doctoral degree in higher education administration from Georgia State University. He earned a degree in journalism, middle childhood education, curriculum and instruction, as well as administration and supervision from Georgia State University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in entomology from the University of Georgia in 1984.

He was born in Augusta, Ga. and is active in the NAACP, Black Family Preservation Group, the National Association of Black School Educators, and Toastmasters International and has served on the boards of the Sickle Cell Association, Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis Club International and the AIDS Action Coalition. He is an ordained elder with the Church of God in Christ.

He is the father of two young children and will reside on campus in the President’s home, Colonial Heights.

WLU’s Presidential Search Committee was composed of all members of the Board of Governors plus two additional faculty representatives, two additional staff members, one additional student member, one alumnus and one WLU Foundation member.

Also serving as a non-voting, ex-officio member was Dr. Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. The WVHEPC is expected to vote and approve Evans’ contract on Friday, Nov. 20.

West Liberty University’s search for its next president began last spring after President Stephen Greiner announced his intended June 30, 2020 retirement last November. The search was delayed due to the pandemic and Greiner agreed to stay on at the request of the Board of Governors.

West Liberty University is West Virginia’s oldest public university and today it offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, plus a growing number of graduate programs, both online and on campus. For more information, please call 1.866.937.8542 (WESTLIB), visit westliberty.edu or follow WLU on social media. To view more about WLU, please visit westliberty.edu/youtube.

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