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East Central University President Richard Rafes speaks on the mall near the University Center during the unveiling of the new school logos Friday, Nov. 3, 2006. (Photo by Richard R. Barron)

Richard R. Barron

EDITOR'S NOTE: Reprinted with permission of the Register-Herald

LEWISBURG, W. Va.—Dr. Richard Rafes, president of the West Virginia School for Osteopathic Medicine and former East Central University president, has been relieved of his duties by the WVSOM’s Board of Governors after 15 months on the job.

News of the decision came in a two-sentence statement issued in a news release late Saturday afternoon by Nancy L. Green, assistant vice president for marketing and communications at WVSOM.

“At the Saturday, April 10, meeting of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine Board of Governors, the board thanked Dr. Richard Rafes for his 15 months of service as president. The board appointed Dr. Michael Adelman, vice president for academic affairs and dean, as acting president, effective immediately.”

Dr. Rodney Fink, chairman of the Board of Governors, told The Register-Herald Saturday night, “Essentially, the board determined the relationship was no longer mutually beneficial.”

He added that the board would be working with the state Higher Education Policy Commission and Chancellor Brian Noland to work out terms for Rafes to complete his contract.

“We think he has significant abilities that can benefit the state,” Fink said of Rafes, whose contract extends through June 2011.

Fink said the board would also be working with the commission and chancellor in the search for a new president.

“There are specific guidelines as to how this is done,” he added. “The Higher Education Policy Commission is the state agency that overlooks institutions like ours. We’ll start talking about working with the chancellor next week.”

Fink said Saturday’s decision was made following an evaluation.

“The president had an annual evaluation due, but because of other pressing matters, including the budget, this was the first opportunity to accomplish a review and a budget review,” he said. “It’s simply an ongoing process that is part of the board’s job.”

Rafes was named WVSOM president in November 2008, succeeding longtime President Olen E. Jones Jr. He began his duties at WVSOM in January 2009, becoming the school’s fifth president since its inception in 1974.

Rafes, 58, came to WVSOM after serving 2 1/2 years as president of East Central University in Ada, Okla. Prior to that, he was general counsel at the Texas State University System, and was vice president of legal affairs, vice chancellor and general counsel at the University of North Texas System.

Rafes also taught at the North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

His salary and benefit package at WVSOM is around $240,000 a year, according to the state auditor’s office.

Adelman was a finalist for the president’s position when Rafes was named. Adelman has been at the school since September 2002.

WVSOM has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report in its annual listing of “Top Graduate Schools” every year since 1998.

“The school continues to focus on what’s ranked us as one of the best schools in the country, and that’s the education of osteopath physicians to serve the rural communities,” Fink said. “And we’ll continue to do that.”

— Register-Herald executive editor Carl “Butch” Antolini and regional editor Pat Hanna contributed to this story.

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