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West Liberty faculty votes no confidence in Capehart

Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo Robin Capehart
Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register photo
Robin Capehart

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va. – The faculty senate of West Liberty University issued a vote of no confidence Monday in school President Robin Capehart, who is accused of numerous violations of the state Ethics Act.

The university’s Board of Governors met Monday, just hours after the no-confidence vote, but did not address the Capehart situation. Board chairman George Couch acknowledged the vote in a prepared statement and said the board will discuss the allegations against Capehart further during a meeting set for 4 p.m. March 11 on the second floor of Shaw Hall.

“The faculty senate is an independent body of the university and we are aware of their action today. A special full Board of Governors meeting had already been scheduled for March 11, before today’s faculty senate vote. At that meeting the board will receive an update from legal counsel on the status of the Ethics Commission investigation and will further consider options available in the matter,” Couch said.

Capehart was traveling Monday and unavailable to comment. Attempts to reach faculty senate Chairwoman Linda Cowan also were unsuccessful.

The West Virginia Ethics Commission complaint against Capehart, filed in January after a nearly three-year investigation, alleges he used university resources to promote his private film company’s projects. Capehart has denied the charges.

The ethics commission has scheduled a public hearing on April 16 in Charleston. If found guilty, Capehart faces up to $5,000 in fines per violation – or a total of $65,000 – and could be ordered to pay restitution and reimburse the commission’s investigative costs.

Among the allegations are that Capehart allowed former WLU employee Kristin Seibert to work as a producer for his film company, Flyover Films LLC, while the university was paying her as much as $4,000 per month to work as a consultant. The complaint also accuses Capehart of failing to make reimbursement after using his purchasing card for expenses incurred while promoting Flyover Films’ 2011 movie “Doughboy” – including a rental vehicle, hotel accommodations and gasoline – and spending time away from the university to promote the film without taking leave.

He is also accused of having university staff use the school’s media center to film promotional segments for “Doughboy” that aired multiple times on the university’s TV station.

During Monday’s meeting, the board of governors approved a new online-only masters in business administration degree program. They also approved a resolution to give Margaret Moninger, a 107-year-old Washington, Pa., resident, an honorary baccalaureate degree.

Moninger received her teaching certificate in 1928 from West Liberty State Teachers College. She taught in one-room school houses for three years before getting married.

Staff Writer Ian Hicks contributed to this report.

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