By IAN HICKS
WEST LIBERTY, W.Va – A committee tasked with finding West Liberty University’s next president met for the first time Tuesday, and its members hope to announce their selection in early October.
During the meeting, the 22-member panel – which includes the school’s Board of Governors as well as faculty members, staff and alumni – established a timeline for the search to replace former president Robin Capehart, who stepped down March 15 amid allegations he violated the state Ethics Act by using his position and university resources to promote his private film company’s projects.
Capehart has been reassigned as a legislative liaison and consultant to the university – making the same $220,000 salary he had been earning as president – through the end of the year. A hearing on the ethics charges is set for June 29 at the Mountainside Conference Center in Bethany.
University officials plan to post the opening beginning next month and expect to have the new president on the job by Jan. 1.
Interim president John McCullough, who is serving in that role for the third time during his 44-year career at WLU and is not a candidate for the permanent job, said during a recent faculty meeting that he hopes the search process will unite the campus community in what has been a trying time for the school.
“These types of events, I think they’re energizing for a campus,” he said.
The committee plans to close the application process June 12 and meet June 19 to narrow the pool down to eight to 10 candidates. Committee members plan to interview those people via Skype video conferencing July 9-10 and select three or five to invite for on-campus interviews in early- to mid-September.
The committee will select finalists on Sept. 23 and the Board of Governors – which has the ultimate say in the hire – will meet Oct. 9 to interview those finalists, discuss terms of the new president’s contract and, they hope, announce a selection.
WLU’s presidential search committee includes alumni representatives Jim Frum and Jay Duffy; Dean Thomas Michaud; WLU Foundation representatives Rich Lucas and Tom Reinbold; classified staff representative Katie Cooper; non- classified staff representative Scott Cook; and faculty representatives Linda Cowan and Leann Elkins.
Board of Governors members include Chairman George Couch, Patrick Kelly, Sandra Chapman, Joseph Carey, Richard Carter, Leslie “Les” DeFelice, Patrick Ford, Brian Joseph, Ann Thomas, faculty representative Jim Haizlett, classified staff member Rhonda Tysk, and both outgoing and incoming student government presidents Evan Newman and Allyson Ashworth.
DeFelice was named chairman of the search committee and Duffy was selected as vice chairman during Tuesday’s meeting.