Greiner calling it a career at West Liberty University
WHEELING — West Liberty University President Stephen Greiner is ready to head off into sunsets at the beach.
The university announced Thursday that W. Franklin Evans will leave his post as president of Voorhees College to become West Liberty’s 37th president beginning Jan. 1. Greiner plans to retire and leave the campus after conducting the school’s virtual commencement address on Dec. 5.
Then he and his wife, Nancy, will head to their home on the beach in North Carolina.
Greiner has served as WLU president since January 2016 — one month shy of five years.
“When you enjoy what you do, life moves faster than you would like for it to,” he said.
“It has been much better than I ever anticipated. Had I not been here, and knowing what I know now, it would have been the biggest mistake of my career not to serve West Liberty.”
Greiner, 74, announced his retirement in November 2019, with his last day on the job initially slated to be June 30 of this year.
But two unforeseen happenings postponed his departure. Greiner opted to stay on longer as the coronavirus brought additional challenges to the campus, and also delayed the search for his successor.
A first round of candidates for the position was called in during the summer, but when one finalist withdrew, the search was restarted. A second round of potential WLU presidents has visited the campus in recent weeks.
A Weirton native, Greiner came to WLU after serving as CEO of Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, Ky. He also has served as president of Brunswick Community College in North Carolina and as president of Virginia Intermont College.
In total, he spent 46 years in academia, with the last 19 years in administration.
Greiner seemed pleased by his time at WLU.
“The people, the faculty, staff, and the students here have been remarkable. They are great to work with, and have incredible talents,” he said. “They really do care about student success. I’ve seen that every day.”
Greiner said he did much homework before taking the job at the school, “and knew what to expect.”
“I knew the challenges before us, but I was able to prepare for those before coming here,” he said. “We had declining enrollment, our budget was in a deficit. It was nothing I hadn’t seen before, but we had to put together a team and an initiative. We had to move quickly to get the budget under control and start enrollment initiatives.
“We were successful as a whole campus, not just one person or a single group. I have to thank the entire campus for their commitment to increase enrollment and add academic programs, services and athletic programs. All of that contributed to our successes.”
Greiner said he set 10 goals for himself as WLU president, and accomplished nine. What he failed to accomplish was to start a capital campaign drive.
“We did not have the right timing to do something like that,” he said. “It is something I think they will do in the future. But because of the timing — most recently COVID — it was not the right time to put a capital campaign together.”
The Greiners have had their home on the North Carolina coast for 15 years.
“That’s where I go — I go to the beach,” he said. “I really don’t have any plans. When you live near the ocean, guess you don’t need to have plans. It’s where people go for vacation, and we will live there. Everyday will be a vacation.”
Greiner said he doesn’t “regret one second coming back to the Northern Panhandle” to be WLU president. He said he will miss the people, and students in particular.
“After 46 years of seeing students every day, this will stop,” he said. “It will be tough. During my career I have always been student-centered, and I’ve dedicated the last 46 years to students and helping them to achieve their dreams. I will miss that terribly.
“I want to thank each and every person in West Liberty and Wheeling, and all the people I have met over the past five years. I thank them for their kindness, hospitality, and accepting me back home. We’ve accomplished a lot of things together, and my wish is they continue to do so in that capacity,” he said.
(King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)