The hate mail has been coming in from anonymous professors (who refuse to identify themselves) at WLU in response to the last post. For the most part they are full of name calling, and they condone the actions on behalf of the senate against Capehart’s daughter. It’s just shameful. They address no facts presented in #4. I will be making those vulgar emails public as time permits. In the meantime, I have a series to complete and to tell the story that the press did not. The question before the community is this: why would you send your kids to a school where the professors do not care about the privacy of your son and daughter? Or, who only care about your son and daughter if he or she belongs to the approved class and political affiliation?
I reiterate my challenge (from The Federalist) to those ribald anonymous critics who work at WLU: I will debate anyone in public on these matters. By public, I also mean televised.
I have made the argument in both editorials and on this blog that faculty and staff at WLU loathed Capehart for political reasons. The dull drumbeat of intolerance had nothing to do with his ability to do the job required of a university president. I also argued that the faculty in particular made their campaign to oust Capehart public. Here is some evidence of that: On 29 November 2011, Phil Kabler noted in his Charleston Gazette gossip column that,
Some faculty and staff at West Liberty University are raising concerns that President Robin Capehart’s newest venture, as a movie mogul, could draw resources and staff away from the college.
So, two years before the ethics violation against Capehart was made public, “faculty and staff” had been calling newspapers around the state—the Gazette being just one—to “report” to anyone that would listen that Capehart was dirty. The Gazette was only too happy to participate in the unfounded accusations. How else do we explain the obvious first sentence from Kabler, who was obviously contacted by faculty at WLU? Indeed, Kabler even quotes from a letter he received from an anonymous faculty member in his story:
One wrote: “Both of these concerns degrade the integrity of an institution of higher education.”
What degrades higher ed? A Christian themed movie supported by Capehart, whose daughter was in a leading role, and which did not cost WLU one cent. That is what passes for “degrad[ing] the integrity” of WLU to faculty members at the college. As we shall see, there is no room for personal faith at WLU, which is increasingly a school hostile to the traditions of the Faith of the three great revealed religions.
It was reported to this author that the complaints, such as the one to Kabler, came in part through the Arts & Com school (a division of the college bleeding money, more on that later) where a person of interest in the case was working at the WLUTV station, and who, because she was hired by Capehart, was resented by the faculty in that college.
We shall see as this series goes forward, those faculty and staff lied to Kabler and presumably, to the Ethics Commission. Should we be at all surprised at this after they went after his minor daughter in such a vile and illegal manner? [see prior post]
On 29 January 2015, the Wheeling Intelligencer reported that Capehart was under an ethics investigation. Here is a link to the original complaint. Reminiscent of a scene in Animal House, Capehart had actually been secretly under investigation for years by the Ethics Commission. Despite his attempts to comply with the investigation when he found out about it, the Ethics Commission ignored his entreaties and moved forward.
While the charges leveled against Capehart seemed serious, this was still an investigation. No guilt had been assigned, nor any decision made pertaining to guilt or innocence. An hearing date was set so that the accused could defend himself. I should note at this point that before the ethics complaint was made public, two years earlier (before the ethics violations were made public), this author was told by someone who had connections to the West Virginia State Government, that the Democrats in the state were looking to make a “political hit” on Capehart so as to prevent him from running for governor. The Democrats in the state have been desperate to hold onto power since their near century long rule was coming to an end. Such was their fear Capehart would trounce any Democrat who decided to run, the party wanted to tarnish his name to make him appear unelectable. I was further informed that most members of the Ethics Commission who pushed an investigation were long time Yellow Dogs. This should not be surprising since the commission is made up of 5 Democrats and 3 Republicans with 1 Independent.
Nevertheless, several anonymous comments in the press assumed the worst about Capehart when the story went public. A quick perusal of the January 29 story’s comments section demonstrates many Yellow Dogs not only misrepresenting his accomplishments and qualifications for the job as president, but also revealingly, stating his party affiliation as an aspect of his qualification to hold said job.
On campus, the spring semester was barely underway when the story broke. I heard many professors on campus state that they “knew” he was guilty. They never offered a reason, or evidence, for that assumption, but their knowledge of his guilt was usually followed by the “fact” that he was a “Republican” or a “conservative” or that he was a “Christian” who supported his daughter’s “shitty Christian movie” called The Pledge. Because I always questioned what the inherent wrong was of someone’s political affiliation and religious faith in terms of doing a job especially at an institution that is supposed to be “liberal,” I was labeled by those who loathed the president as “Capehart’s boy.” It should be noted that part of the problem many people had against Capehart was his apparent Faith–which he never discussed as he kept his Faith a private matter. The question of a devout personal faith also led to the demise of Provost Anthony Koyzis because of his dedication to Eastern Orthodoxy. He was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and had a spectacular and beautiful icon corner in his house. This rubbed many faculty members the wrong way, and they soon sought his ouster, because, you know, he believed in God and the Ancient/Original Church (and he had the temerity to stand up for the president’s daughter).
On 29 January 2015, stories reported Capehart denied any wrongdoing. Of course, this did not stop some people assuming the worst in a conspiratorial manner without any proof. Still, in February 2015, the Board of Governors (BOG) took up the issue of the Ethics Charges against Capehart. Though the BOG resolved they would reserve public comment until after Capehart’s hearing, the faculty saw no need to assume innocence before proven guilty.
One professor, David Wright, was apoplectic:
“If Robin Capehart really cared about West Liberty, if West Liberty was his first true interest here, wouldn’t he just graciously step aside? Don’t you think that would be the honorable thing to do?” Wright said.
Wright said he’s not speaking on behalf of anyone else at the university, and acknowledged that he’s been at odds with Capehart since he assumed the presidency in 2007.
We might say the same about Wright. Wright’s wife used to be Dean of the business college, where his appointment resides. He does not have a Ph.D. He is also the same professor who regaled about me in at least one class, calling me a “scumbag” at one point according to reports from students in the class, after my op-ed at The Federalist. It is unclear whether his instruction about my personal traits will wind up on an exam since he took up class time to instruct the students on my apparent character flaws.
Though Wright states he does not speak for the faculty, we shall see that he is nevertheless representative of the faculty and its senate in the foregoing posts on this subject. Furthermore, his public comments to the press noted above were never publicly contradicted by any member of the faculty.
The president was weary of the battle. So, in order to focus on the legal battle with the state, he elected to resign his position without duress. On March 2, the faculty senate voted “no confidence” in Capehart, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing. On 11 March 2015, Capehart resigned as president. Though he resigned, he remained employed by WLU until the end of 2015. This did not stop many members of the faculty and alumni from criticizing Capehart before any determination of his innocence or guilt could be made–see the unfounded comments by Chuck Jeswilowski. It was also in this comments section that one member of the community threatened Capehart’s life. In that comment the person wrote that Capehart should “beware the Ides of March.” The allusion to the Roman senate stabbing Caesar could not be mistaken.
On June 15 Capehart came to an agreement with the State of West Virginia. He was not found guilty of wrongdoing.
Capehart had been charged in January with 13 ethics violations for alleged misuse of university resources and personnel in the production and promotion of two motion pictures produced by his privately owned independent film company, Flyover Films. On Thursday, he admitted through a conciliation agreement with the West Virginia Ethics Commission that he solicited private business when he sought the services of Kristen Siebert, who had been on the university’s payroll first as a temporary employee at West Liberty’s cable-access TV station, and eventually as a consultant under a $4,000-a-month professional services contract, to work on his movie projects.
The commission dropped the remaining charges under the agreement, with Capehart paying a fine of $5,000 and costs of $5,000. A scheduled June 29 hearing on the charges was effectively canceled.
Greg McDermott, counsel for Capehart in the ethics matter, said the violation was inadvertent.
“President Capehart … did not knowingly and intentionally use his office for private gain,” McDermott said. “I do believe that if President Capehart knew that trying to help a part-time associate and friend become involved in a project in her area of expertise was a violation of the ethics act, he wouldn’t have done it.”
McDermott also said the West Liberty University Board of Governors was aware of Capehart’s actions pertaining to Siebert.
Capehart said he “truly regrets” the incident, and said it has been stressful on his family and a created a distraction for those at the university.
Capehart also was critical of the ethics commission, claiming the board “has been dragging this matter on for over three years despite our numerous requests for a hearing.” He said since the investigation was launched, he was never contacted by the commission, which he said ignored due process on numerous occasions.
“I have little or no faith in the ability of the Ethics Commission to give me a fair hearing,” he said.
The Ethics Commission’s case was weak, but they settled, dropping the charges, and fining him for an “inadvertent” violation of law that did not cost WLU one penny. He was “reprimanded” for “soliciting private business” from a WLU employee, that did not cost the the state or its taxpayers any funds.
Why did the Ethics Commission all of a sudden settle a matter they spent over three years of taxpayer money investigating? Defenders of the Ethics Commission state that the Democrat controlled Ethics Commission was running out of money and could not prosecute Capehart fully. If only they would have had the funds to pursue him, they would have prevailed. But, how is it that a state agency runs out of money, unless there is a mismanagement of funds?
Sources claim that Stephen Jory, the special counsel to the Capehart case, made it known the Commission did not pursue Capehart for at least 2 years because of lack of funds. In other words, the Commission could not conduct an hearing because it had no money to do so! However, that alleged excuse begs the question: if the Ethics Commission lacked the funds, and they had already been dragging out the case for 2+ years, why settle now? Why not drag it out longer until funds came available? Why not drop the case it cannot afford to pursue? The answer is pretty clear: for one, they violated Due Process of Law by prolonging a hearing. Second, they omitted notice of the charges that should have been presented before a probable cause review board (eventually there was a meeting with the board, but it was in Star Chamber fashion, and Capehart was not notified of that hearing). Third, the commission appears to have manufactured some charges (no doubt because the complainants fabricated facts to the commission). Indeed, the Ethics Commission Executive Director (A Democrat) appears to have publicly stated before the investigation had concluded that Capehart was guilty. Capehart’s numerous requests for an hearing, went unrecognized by the commission. All of this may be aptly explained by Capehart himself, but suffice to say, there is a reason the charges were dropped in his case. There was no case. If there is an example of prosecutorial misconduct, this may be it.
As the spring wore on into the summer, public opinion was turning against the WLU faculty and its reckless senate. More and more people from the community soured on the tantrum they saw exhibited by the employees of WLU. It is on this point we shall turn for our next post. We shall backtrack into the opinion of some senators, not to mention their statements to the press.
Before he was ousted from WLU, Anthony Koyzis called this author to state he was leaving the university. He encouraged me to leave the college as so many professors were doing already. He stated that the campus was “toxic” and that it would not be cured by any one person or persons because the “rot was too ingrained.” About that time, one of my good friends left WLU for a job in Hawaii. She told me the reason she and her family left was because of the “toxic mess” at WLU, and because of its “hateful faculty and staff.” Indeed, she went on to say more generally that she and her husband did not want to raise their children in the dying and depressing Ohio Valley. Another professor left in the spring of 2015 for warmer southern climes. According to one student posting on facebook, the professor told him he left because of the “hateful idiots” in his department. He also believed that the academic seriousness of the profs at WLU was woeful. Further, he found the toxic atmosphere on campus unbearable. So he and a handful of my friends that I respected, abandoned the university before it was too late.
With the despicable and cowardly behavior by WLU’s faculty and staff, I can only say that those who left for other gainful employment seem to have made the right choice, and that WLU is living up to its reputation.
Next Up: The Faculty Senate Breaks the law again. We will capture the acts and statements from the faculty, and faculty senate, during this time period, and into the late summer of 2015 in the next post.
Addendum: the agreement that Capehart signed offered from the BOG was agreed to by February 2nd, and was not the result of the no confidence vote of the faculty senate.