The West Liberty University Board of Governors voted Wednesday to publicly reprimand President W. Franklin Evans following his plagiarism, but the board doled out no other discipline.
“This isn’t quote-unquote ‘over’ by any means,” board Chairman Rich Lucas said after the meeting, “but it is resolved to the point that we have a framework to work under to let Dr. Evans do the great job that he is going to do.”
“There’s still healing,” Lucas said. “This will take time. There’s still the Board of Governors’ oversight, repair, reporting directly to the Board of Governors.”
After emerging Wednesday from nearly two hours behind closed doors, the board voted to, as its official motion put it, “publicly censure” Evans. All 10 of the dozen board members attending voted for the motion.
“According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,” Lucas said at the meeting, “the definition of censure is an official strong criticism and severe disapproval.”
“The Board of Governors has listened to students, alumni, faculty senate, staff, the West Liberty University Foundation, administration and other stakeholders,” he said. “The Board of Governors now believes it is time for West Liberty to take a step forward and face the many challenges that all universities across the country are dealing with.”
The board voted two weeks ago to fire Evans, but that motion failed with seven of the 12 members voting no.
The board then unanimously approved placing Evans under what it called “disciplinary actions,” but also said the board would “meet and decide all disciplinary actions.”
Faculty said they originally discovered Evans’ plagiarism. Between the failed firing vote and Wednesday, the university’s faculty senate voted 14-1, with one abstaining, to express “no confidence” in Evans.
Lucas said Wednesday that “the Board of Governors recognizes the extreme seriousness of the president’s neglect to cite sources in his speeches and/or academic presentations” and expects Evans to “implement actions to reunify the campus community” and “rebuild trust.”
Evans started Jan. 1 as West Liberty’s first Black president in its 183-year history.
Inside Higher Ed reported last month that he had plagiarized in at least three speeches since starting.
The Northern Panhandle university pays Evans an annual base salary of $225,000, not including the value of the campus president’s house he lives in for free or his $1,000 monthly vehicle stipend for a vehicle for professional and personal use.