Delegate sues Higher Education Policy Commission to remove interim chancellor

By Kyla Asbury | Feb 23, 2019

PRINCETON — Del. Gary Martin "Marty" Gearheart (R-Mercer) is suing the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), seeking to remove the commission's interim chancellor.

Gearheart claims interim Chancellor Carolyn Long does not meet the qualifications for the post because she has institutional and regional biases as a former chairperson of the West Virginia University Board of Governors and as campus president of West Virginia University Institute of Technology, according to a complaint filed in Mercer Circuit Court.

Gearheart claims Long is tasked with the responsibilities defined in the code for the chancellor and is receiving the salary of the chancellor. Michael J. Farrell, Jenny Allen, Bob Brown, James Dailey, Diane Lewis, Dale Lowther, Dr. Steven L. Paine, Andrew A. Payne III and Donna L. Schulte were also named as defendants in the suit.

The lawsuit was previously filed in August 2018, prompting HEPC officials to discuss the lawsuit. Farrell addressed the lawsuit briefly, according to WVNews.

"We will be reviewing that litigation and respond to it in the coming days," Farrell said to WVNews. "My position, as I have expressed previously, is that the grounds on which this commission voted were legal, were appropriate, and we will advocate for that position in Circuit Court."

Gearheart claims even though state code lays out provisions for the chancellor and not the interim chancellor, that since Long has been appointed to fill the seat for an indefinite term, the same rules should apply to her.

"Major changes are being contemplated in West Virginia regarding higher education and a chancellor not meeting the qualifications may be damaging to all higher education institutions, most specifically those located in Mercer County: Concord University and Bluefield State College," the complaint states.

Gearheart is seeking for Long to be removed from the position. 

Gearheart is representing himself. The case is assigned to Circuit Judge William Sadler. 

Mercer Circuit Court case number 18-C-333.

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