New year on the Hilltop brings a new President: Dr. W. Franklin Evans

On Nov. 19, 2020, Dr. W. Franklin Evans was named West Liberty University’s 37th President. Assuming the presidency on Jan. 1, 2021 and journeying his way to the Hilltop three days later, Evans became the university’s first Black president in 183 years of West Liberty history.

Evans was led to apply for the open presidency for several reasons including one of his life goals of wanting to work at a predominantly white institution and wanting to get back into a state system. “The other thing is my career has been in the south. From Ga., to AL., Tenn., Va., N.C., and S.C. So, I really wanted to get out of the south – that was another draw to West Liberty. I wanted to learn and expand my base in a different region,” he shared.

Furthering his explanation, Evans was impressed with the family feel of the institution. “That is one of the good things about West Liberty. It is such a family environment here. So, I felt like I would fit right in. I’ve got to tell you, what I like about being here is the friendliness of people,” he said.

The President shared, so far, he is finding West Liberty intriguing in the fact “each and every day is something different.”

Evans mentioned the importance of students staying vigilant of COVID-19 as we work as a team to keep the West Liberty community and campus safe for in-person classes and sports to continue. “First, I want to say that students need to take this virus seriously. Everyone, students, staff, and faculty, needs to be wearing their masks, sanitizing, and washing their hands,” Evans commented.

As of right now, there are no plans to add in any new COVID precautions to West Liberty’s current way of combating the spread of the virus. “I always say if a plan is working, don’t mess with it,” Evans said. Emphasizing the importance of surveillance testing, mask wearing, and social distancing, he feels confident West Liberty can remain a safe campus as long as the Hilltopper community continues to take the above precautions seriously.
Even though the pandemic has put a huge distance between human activity and interaction, being able to have connections with the student body is a value Evans continually mentioned he personally found important to any institution’s success.

“Students are our reason for being here. And, if we ever lose sight of that, then we need to find another profession. We need to find another job,” Evans said. He went on to explain the importance of the college experience and the responsibilities of administrators to ensure the experience is as meaningful as possible for students. He continued with, “I want students to see me as a student-oriented president.”

Certainly, South Carolina is a much different region than West Liberty, and Evans jokingly commented on how much snow he has been experiencing on the Hilltop in the little time he has been here. “I have experienced more snow here in the last two days, then I have seen in the last ten years combined,” said Evans.
Evans was born in Augusta, Ga., and is the father of two young children. According to a press release sent out by the University, the new president will be “…staying at the alumni house, Liberty Oaks Bed and Breakfast, just next door while minor renovations are made to his future home.”

Prior to West Liberty, Evans was the president of Voorhee’s College, and has over 25 years of experience in education at several other institutions throughout the southern region of the U.S., which can be viewed in detail via this link.

The Trumpet staff extends their warmest welcome to Dr. W. Franklin Evans as he continues to get comfortable in his new home and new position as President here at West Liberty University.

For more information about this particular article, please email Annalise Murphy at [email protected] Any further questions pertaining to Dr. Evans can be directed to the university’s Director of Media Relations, Maureen Zambito, at [email protected]