Embattled WVU president won't address graduates
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) _ Embattled West Virginia University president Mike Garrison is taking a backseat at commencement ceremonies, a school spokeswoman said Friday, the latest sign of growing tensions at the school amid a degree scandal involving the governor's daughter.
The first-year president canceled plans to deliver an address but will still attend many of the weekend's ceremonies, said spokeswoman Amy Neil. University heads typically preside over the granting of degrees.
"I think it's important for everybody to note, and particularly the president of the university, graduation is not about me," Garrison said in a statement Friday. "Graduation is not about anybody except our students and their faculty who got them to where they are today, helped them get to where they are today. We want to focus on the students. I certainly don't intend to be a distraction."
Faculty have assembled twice in the last two weeks to call for Garrison to resign over the awarding of an executive master's of business administration degree to Heather Bresch, daughter of Gov. Joe Manchin. The administration decided last fall to retroactively grant a degree that investigators later concluded the Mylan Inc. executive did not earn.
Garrison has stressed that he plans to stay in the job. However, newspapers renewed their own demands Friday that he leave.
"He just doesn't get it, does he?" an editorial in the Dominion Post of Morgantown observed. "Or he doesn't want to get it.
"At what expense and at what risk Garrison's refusal to resign remains to be seen in the long term, but it's safe to say it will be negative," the newspaper said. "... There is a limit to how long Garrison can wait around. But, WVU cannot recover from this scandal under the very leadership that takes responsibility for it."
Bresch is a longtime friend of Garrison, and Mylan chairman Milan "Mike" Puskar, who has given tens of millions to WVU. While the panel found no evidence that Garrison directly interfered, it said the presence of his key staff at the decision-making meeting created "palpable" pressure.