West Liberty University names Evans president
WEST LIBERTY — W. Franklin Evans has been named the 37th president of West Liberty University.
“I am pleased to announce that Evans has accepted our offer and agreed to become West Liberty University’s next 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 school’s board of governors.
Evans will be the first black president in the 183-year history of the university and will assume the role on Jan. 1.
“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 board of governors for its confidence and support in my selection to lead this amazing institution,” said Evans.
Evans will succeed 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 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 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 percent, 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 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 and 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.
West Liberty’s 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.
Serving as a non-voting, ex-officio member was Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. The WVHEPC is expected to vote and approve Evans’ contract today.
West Liberty University’s search for its next president began last spring after Greiner announced his intended June 30 retirement in November 2019. The search was delayed because of the pandemic and Greiner agreed to stay on at the request of the board of governors.