The Bluefield State College Board of Governors voted Wednesday to remove “interim” from Bluefield State interim President Robin Capehart’s title, the college announced.
The Rev. Garry Moore, the board chairman, said the presidential search committee and the board both voted Wednesday to choose Capehart as president. He’s been the interim president since January.
Moore said no nays were heard in the voice votes, and only one board member, whom Moore declined to name, was absent.
However, Moore said the college hasn’t yet offered Capehart a contract to sign, and Moore said he didn’t yet know what salary would be offered or how many years the board would be asking Capehart to stay.
Moore said the board’s executive committee, consisting of board Vice Chairman Charlie Cole, board member Ronnie Hypes and himself, would work that out.
Cole’s brother, Bill, is the former state Senate president and Republican gubernatorial nominee who lost to now-Gov. Jim Justice, back when Justice was a Democrat.
The state Higher Education Policy Commission’s board — which, for most four-year schools, gets the final vote on presidents’ pay — will then have to vote on the contract.
Capehart is currently making about $190,000 annually. That $190,000 doesn’t include the value of getting to live in the president’s home for free.
“I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve Bluefield State College as president,” Capehart said in a news release. “Since January, I have been consistently impressed by the way Bluefield State College impacts the lives of our students in such a positive fashion. With the leadership of the Board of Governors, the insight of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the communities we serve, the College will continue to grow, to serve, and to lead.”
Moore said last month that only two of the more than 20 applicants met the criteria the college set for the position.
He said the biggest criterion that eliminated applicants was the requirement for past presidential experience.
Capehart led West Liberty University from 2007 to 2015. He left that role before he was scheduled to go in front of the state Ethics Commission to face 13 ethics charges.
He admitted to one of the charges in a conciliation agreement with the Ethics Commission. In exchange, the other 12 were dropped.
The charges against Capehart related to his use of public resources at the school for his privately owned movie production company.
He agreed to pay a $5,000 fine and another $5,000 to reimburse the commission for the cost of the investigation.
Aside from Capehart, the only other finalist the college announced was Patricia Ramsey. She was only an interim president for one summer 13 years ago at Maryland’s Bowie State University.
Her resume listed her as the current provost and vice president of academic affairs for Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University.
Lincoln University’s website said, as of last month, that she was on leave. After the Gazette-Mail asked why she was on leave, the website was updated to say research leave.
Moore said neither he nor any other member of the search committee or board asked Ramsey, who visited Bluefield State last week, why she was on leave.
According to an estimated timeline on Bluefield State’s website, the board planned to choose the new president Sept. 26.
“We thought we were going to have way more candidates that qualified for our criteria,” Moore said of the quicker-than-anticipated vote.
Moore also said that “we couldn’t have made a wrong decision, we had the best two candidates we could have possibly gotten.”
He said “we’re not selecting gods to be a president, we are selecting a human being, who — all of us are flawed in one way or another.”
He noted Capehart had been serving as interim president for about seven-and-a-half months.
“If there was a distinction [between the two candidates] that’s probably the only thing I can see because Dr. Ramsey was just as qualified,” Moore said.
He said Capehart got Justice to give $1 million, which Justice’s office said is coming from the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council, toward new on-campus housing at the college.
“A million dollars is nothing to sneeze at,” Moore said.
“If this was three years from now and things were going smoothly, [Ramsey] would have my vote in a heartbeat,” Moore said.
But Capehart, he said, “has relationships that don’t have to be built, he already knows people.”