Black history made with WLU’s newest president, bringing some students to tears

Black History Month

Coming from South Carolina to the snow, President Evans was ready for a lot of changes... Starting with the diversity on campus.

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — When you think of history, we call it the ‘past’, but on the winding roads of West Liberty black history is being made right now as the 37th president becomes the first African American man to take the helm in the University’s 183 years of operation.  

In his 25 years of higher education, Dr. W. Franklin Evans is learning a new lay of land. 

This is not my first Christmas. I have been as serval other institutions… A majority HBCUs: Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Although I have worked at some PWIs on a part-time basis. But this is my first at the helm of a PWI.

Dr. W. Franklin Evans, President of West Liberty University

PWI: ‘Predominantly White Institution’. West Liberty’s diversity makes up 3 percent of the campus population. So, to some students, President Evans’ new role ushers in the dawn of a new era. 

Last week I had an interview with one of our student radio announcers who is African American. And she said to me this is an Obama moment for her. And I listened.

She said when she was in the 3rd grade President Obama became president… The first African American president. And when she heard the news of me becoming president of West Liberty, she said it was an Obama moment for her and she shed tears.

Dr. W. Franklin Evans, President of West Liberty University

His goal is to show all students they can find their home on the Hilltop. And while he certainly has experienced discrimination, he says he has not faced any so far living in the Valley.

 

And though President Evans says he’s an educator first, he knows his skin color stands out. 

Each and every time I go out into the community, I have somebody who recognizes me. I’m sure it’s not hard to recognize who I am. Persons who come and congratulate me extend a welcome, particularly alums who are in the area; who are proud of this institution and who are proud that I am now at the helm of such a great institution such as West Liberty University.

Dr. W. Franklin Evans, President of West Liberty University

In an effort to broaden diversity’s horizon, President Evans hopes to up the campus’ aforementioned low percentage by reaching past West Virginia’s mountains and applying an element of ‘family’ he gleamed from HBCUs he’s served in the past. 

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