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West Liberty University will have its first Black president in the school’s 183-year history, the university announced Thursday.

W. Franklin Evans, who has been president of Voorhees College, in South Carolina, since August 2016, will become West Liberty’s president Jan. 1.

“I want to be as visible as I can,” Evans said. “I want to engage with alumni, certainly current donors and potential donors, and I want to be a part of the community.”

“I want the students to see me as that kind of president, engaging, one that’s compassionate and certainly concerned about their education and what’s best for them,” he said.

Rich Lucas, chairman of West Liberty’s Board of Governors, said the vote to hire Evans was 9-0, with only member Joe Carey absent.

“Energy, professionalism, just a wonderful candidate,” Lucas said of Evans.

“Good man, obvious credentials, obvious leadership, obvious abilities he has displayed in his past,” Lucas said, “and we’re really looking forward to bringing him to campus.”

The state Higher Education Policy Commission board still has to vote on whether to approve Evans’ compensation.

The vote is on that board’s online/teleconference agenda for 9 a.m. Friday.

West Liberty’s Board of Governors has offered Evans a two-year contract with a base salary of $225,000 per year.

Atop that, the contract would give him a $1,000 monthly vehicle stipend for a vehicle for both professional and personal use. The university would, in addition to the vehicle stipend, pay for Evans’ gas burned on university business.

He and his family would also live in the president’s house for free.

Before leading Voorhees, Evans was the chief academic officer and interim president at South Carolina State University.

At South Carolina State, “fundraising increased by 687%” under his leadership, West Liberty has said.

According to West Liberty, he also helped establish an Honors College at Virginia Union University when he worked there.

Current West Liberty President Stephen Greiner is retiring.

He had planned to retire June 30, but stayed on amid the pandemic and as the Northern Panhandle school relaunched its presidential search this fall after four of the five initial finalists dropped out.

“I certainly want to continue in the same vein of greatness that (Greiner) has already established there,” Evans said, “but I am just thrilled and can’t wait to roll my sleeves up.”

Reach Ryan Quinn at,, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.