Liz McCormick Published

West Liberty University President Under Fire Amid Plagiarism Allegations

The Main Hall at West Liberty

West Liberty University’s President Franklin Evans has come under fire in recent days for alleged plagiarism of several speeches since taking the job as president in January.

University staff and its faculty senate have accused Evans of multiple counts of plagiarism in his recent speeches.

The faculty senate sent a letter to the Board of Governors asking its members to review the allegations and “act appropriately given the seriousness of these incidents.”

“Academic integrity underpins the core values and reputation of West Liberty University,” the letter read. “Plagiarism stands in direct conflict with these values. As our most visible representative, the president either reinforces or detracts from West Liberty’s reputation and image.”

The news came to light in a story first reported by Inside Higher Ed.

In a statement Monday from West Liberty University’s Board of Governors, chairman Rich Lucas acknowledged the board is aware of Evans’ not giving proper attribution in his recent speeches. Lucas said the board believes it was an “oversight,” and they remain confident that Evans is “the right person to lead” the university.

However, in a statement sent to West Virginia Public Broadcasting on Wednesday, Lucas said the board of governors will look into the issue at its Oct. 13 board meeting.

“The West Liberty University Board of Governors is not ignoring the problem and we will address this matter in the appropriate manner, at the appropriate time, at the next Board of Governors meeting,” Lucas said.

Evans also released a statement Wednesday apologizing.

“I regret my lack of attribution in any speech or presentation that may have been given,” Evans said. “It was never my intent to give the impression that those were my exact words, and I failed to identify where the material came from. For that, I am sorry. I will make sure it doesn’t happen again. I want the best for West Liberty University, its students, staff and faculty. My goal is to continue serving the university in the manner expected by the Board of Governors.”

Inside Higher Ed’s report claimed Evans’ plagiarized lengthy passages in some cases from numerous speeches without giving credit to the original authors. It offered side-by-side comparisons of the original speeches to Evans’ remarks.