West Liberty University’s Board of Governors threw its support behind the university’s president, W. Franklin Evans, Wednesday, meaning three Wheeling, W.V.-area college and university presidents have all received backing from their boards after they drew blowback last month for sharply criticizing efforts to bring another institution into the area.
At issue are efforts by Wheeling city leaders to fill empty space at the former Ohio Valley Medical Center, The Intelligencer reported. The city entered into a memorandum of understanding in January under which Bluefield State College would create a branch campus in Wheeling to create an engineering and manufacturing center on the medical center campus. That prompted Evans to join the presidents of Wheeling University and West Virginia Northern Community College in a March city council meeting.
At that meeting, West Virginia Northern Community College president Daniel Mosser labeled the city’s plans with Bluefield the “Friends and Family Plan” and alleged backdoor dealings, prompting city officials to demand a public retraction from the college and university presidents, The Intelligencer reported.
West Liberty’s board is publicly backing its president after the chairs of Wheeling University and West Virginia Northern Community College already issued statements supporting their presidents.
Bluefield State College’s main campus is about a 280-mile drive from Wheeling. West Liberty’s is 12 miles away, while Wheeling University and West Virginia Northern Community College are both in Wheeling. Bluefield leaders have said they hope to work with local colleges to provide accredited engineering courses and training that are not available currently.