January 2021 
Enjoy our interactive VIRTUAL TOUR here. Access it from the comfort of your home anytime! For information on admissions, click westliberty.edu/admissionsThank you!
Dr. W. Franklin Evan
If you haven't met our new President Dr. W. Franklin Evans, here's a chance to see him in action as he delivers a stirring message as the keynote speaker for the Belmont County NAACP’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2021. Just click the image above to enjoy his speech now. 
Or view it during the virtual presentation that begins at 12:30 p.m. on MLK Day (Jan. 18) on WTOV-9 and on Facebook Live. 
Campus View

New Year, New Leader 

WEST LIBERTY, Jan. 8, 2021 — West Liberty University’s new leader, Dr. W. Franklin Evans is finding his first days in office packed with introductions and meetings. Named the university’s 37th president on Nov. 19, 2020, Evans officially took the helm on Jan. 1, 2021.

Arriving from South Carolina, he is getting settled in his new Hilltop home. Though relocation is no picnic, he’s grateful to all those who have offered assistance as he gets comfortable in his new job, home and community.

“It is definitely a challenge to relocate,” said Evans, who has amassed 25 years of experience in education. “But I’m excited about getting fully here and invested in the community.”

Evans succeeded Dr. Stephen Greiner who retired recently.

The father of two young children, he will reside in the official WLU President’s home, Colonial Heights. At the moment though, he’s staying at the alumni house, Liberty Oaks Bed and Breakfast, just next door while minor renovations are made to his future home.

“From my prior experience, sometimes when you’re moving, you find people cordial but not friendly, but the people here seem to be truly friendly, not just cordial. It’s like Southern hospitality here in West Virginia,” he said. “People have even offered to unpack and unload my gear.”

Prior to joining WLU, Evans was the president of Voorhees College (South Carolina) and before that, he served as interim president of South Carolina State University, where he also served as the provost and chief academic officer.

Evans previously served as vice president of academic affairs at Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va. and before that worked at Elizabeth City State, J. F. Drake State Technical College, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, and Tennessee State University.

As he gets acclimated to WLU, its campus, employees and students, he has two overriding goals that he is addressing immediately.

“I’m concerned that our number one priority must be our students, not just our current students, but prospective learners. We must meet our enrollment goal and expectations,” he said. “I am also focused on keeping the university financially stable.”

As an experienced fundraiser and grant writer, his background is sure to come in handy.

As far as his educational background goes, Evans earned a doctoral degree in higher education administration from Georgia State University in 1994. He also holds advanced degrees in science curriculum and instruction from Georgia State University and earned bachelor degrees in both journalism and biology/entomology from Georgia State and the University of Georgia (respectively).

Born in Augusta, Ga., he is active in the NAACP, Black Family Preservation Group, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Sigma Pi Phi, and Toastmasters International and has served on the boards of the Sickle Cell Association, Boys and Girls Club, Kiwanis Club International and the AIDS Action Coalition. He is an ordained elder with the Church of God in Christ.

President Evans has already accepted a position on the board of the Ohio County Development Authority.

WLU expects to welcome its students back to the Hilltop for the spring term on Jan. 19. Due to the pandemic, the first week of classes will be virtual as mass COVID-19 testing takes place for both students and employees. For more information on President Evans please visit westliberty.edu/president.
Band Makes News
Band members had a chance to perform in the national spotlight recently.

Concert Band's National Recording Debut

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Jan. 12, 2021 — During a time when performing ensembles struggle to find ways to make music with one another and share it with the public, the West Liberty University Concert Band has not only been successful rehearsing in person, they put themselves in the national spotlight. 

“With the arrival of COVID-19, one of the many health and safety recommendations for large instrumental ensembles, especially those that are only able to rehearse inside, was to lessen the size of the ensemble and space musicians out 6 – 9 feet apart,” said Dr. Gretchen L. Pohlman, WLU’s director of bands and a Wheeling resident.

Dr. Gretchen Pohlman is shown conducting.“The concert bands at WLU rehearse in College Hall throughout the fall and spring semesters.  Because of the size of this space, and to ensure the 6-9 feet distance between musicians, I was forced to cut down the size of the University Concert Band.” 

With this ensemble downsizing came the problem of finding quality literature for the ensemble to play, she noted. 

“I started contacting composers and arrangers that I knew and asking them if they were working on or considering rearranging any of their works for more flexible instrumentation. One of the first individuals I contacted was Pam Smith Kelly, president of Claude T. Smith Publications, and Smith’s daughter. Not only did Mrs. Kelly have original literature of Claude T. Smith’s that was being arranged for small bands and with flexible instrumentation, but she asked if we would be interested in recording these soon-to-be released works.”  

Recognizing the wonderful opportunity this provided students within the WLU concert band program, Pohlman did not hesitate to take Kelly up on her offer. Throughout the course of the fall semester, the University Concert Band rehearsed and recorded the first two newly arranged pieces of Smith’s – Declaration Overture and Avondale Overture. 

With many additional works on the way, this recording project will continue into the spring semester for the WLU concert band program.

“Being part of a recording project of this magnitude has been a wonderful experience for everyone involved. And I could not be prouder of the University Concert Band members, nor more humbled for the opportunity to stand in front of them and serve as their conductor. With all the obstacles and distractions that COVID-19 presented to us this past semester, these students, university faculty, and area community members came together and produced a beautiful product that they should be nothing but proud of,” Pohlman said.

The premier performance of these works took place recently.

Pohlman also worked with Theresa Gretchen of WLU’s streaming platform known as Topper Station to put the finishing touches on a band concert over the holidays that is now posted online at: topperstation.com/watch/wlu-bands-holiday-special-2020.

This performance features the WLU University Concert Band, Steel Band, African Drum & Dance Ensemble, and The Marching Hilltoppers.

Additionally, the public is now able to hear these newly recorded works by the University Concert Band on the Claude T. Smith Publications website and C.L. Barnhouse Company website.

For complete information on the WLU Department of Music, please visit westliberty.edu/music or call 304-336-8006.
Let's stay safe together!

Testing Continues

WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Jan. 13, 2021 — As the spring semester begins on Jan. 19, West Liberty University reminds its students, staff, faculty and visitors of the necessity to follow pandemic procedures of wearing a face mask indoors, social distancing and good hand sanitation. Face masks are required unless individuals are in a private office, vehicle, or in a residence hall room or while eating.

“We are so appreciative of our students and employee cooperation at following all safety protocols in place as we continue to provide our academic tradition during this time of the coronavirus. We thank our campus community too for participating in our testing procedures and vaccination system as required by the state of West Virginia,” said Dr. W. Franklin Evans, WLU president.
"I look forward to the day when we can all relax and recover from the many changes and limitations forced on us by the pandemic. We will get through this and thrive."

COVID-19 testing requirement for spring 2021 will include both mass or baseline testing at the start of the semester (for all students and employees) and surveillance testing of 10 percent of the campus population weekly throughout the semester. 

Instructions for testing was shared via email with all campus entities. 
Vaccinations are being coordinated by the county health departments at the instruction of the state and county officials. At this point, employees 65 and older have been offered a chance for vaccination at off-campus locations. We ask everyone to be patient with this process. 
Hilltopper Athletics are back in action and both the basketball program and the wrestling program are competing and volleyball soon, without fans. For details on all things sports-related, please visit hilltoppersports.com. Access live streams of games and matches at WLU's streaming platform, topperstation.com. 
WLU is grateful for your willing participation in the mandated COVID-19 safety measures made necessary by the pandemic. For more information on WLU's response to COVID-19, please visit westliberty.edu/coronavirus or email covid19@westliberty.edu. 
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