Michael Garrison (politician)

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For the electronic musician, see Michael Garrison (musician).

Michael Garrison is the former president of West Virginia University, succeeded by C. Peter Magrath on August 1, 2008.[1] A graduate of the WVU class of 1992 and earned a J.D. at WVU in 1996 after attending St. Anne's College, Oxford University on a Rotary Scholarship.[2] He lectured as an adjunct professor in West Virginia University's department of Political Science in the years preceding his appointment as president.[3] Garrison had been managing member of Spilman Thomas & Battle pllc in Morgantown. In 2003, Garrison was awarded a Toll Fellowship from the Council of State Governments [4] following his tenor as Chief of Staff to West Virginia Governor Bob Wise from 2001-2003.[5] He served as Cabinet Secretary in the West Virginia Department of Tax and Revenue until 2001.[6] In 2007, Garrison was selected as West Virginia University's twenty-second president.[7]

Garrison's selection as president was controversial with some on the university's faculty; the faculty senate voted no confidence in him in April 2007.[8] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted concerns about his lack of academic experience and the possibility that his inclusion among the finalists was the result of his political connections.[9][10]

In 2008 Garrison became involved in a controversy involving the granting of an MBA degree to Heather Bresch, who had failed to complete the required credits. A panel led by WVU faculty members produced a report on the incident described by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as criticising the university administration for having made "a 'seriously flawed' decision fraught with favoritism."[11] In May 2008 the faculty senate voted 77-19 to call for Garrison's resignation[12] - a demand repeated by a vote (565-39, with 11 abstentions) open to all WVU faculty at a mass meeting a week later.[13] In August 2012, West Virginia University officially closed its investigation, reaching no conclusion but foreseeing "unreasonable delays in investigating complaints of misconduct" raised questions about violations of due process rights.[14]

On June 6, 2008, Garrison officially announced he would resign as President of the University effective September 1, 2008.[15] In October 2008 a West Virginia grand jury decided not to indict Garrison on criminal charges relating to the degree scandal.[16] Some news accounts alleged a friendly relationship between Garrison and the Governor, but the official WVU investigation ended before reaching the same conclusion.[14]

After leaving West Virginia University, Garrison returned to his former law firm, Spilman Thomas & Battle.[17] Garrison's more recent work includes representing natural gas company Northeast Energy in its $42 million suit against the City of Morgantown, West Virginia.[18] Northeast is seeking an injunction against the city, to prevent enforcement of its recent ban on horizontal hydraulic fracking. Morgantown passed its ban after Northeast sited a drill pad near the city's primary drinking-water intake, and the ban and the issue have received increasing press coverage, both locally [19] and even nationally. [20]


  1. ^ WVU Administration
  2. ^ http://www.spilmanlaw.com/Attorneys/D-H/Garrison,-Michael-S
  3. ^ "WVU Committee Narrows Presidential Field to Three", State Journal, 22 March 2007, accessed 2008-04-26
  4. ^ http://www.csg.org/
  5. ^ http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-18534657.html
  6. ^ WVU President's page
  7. ^ http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2007/04/13/5614
  8. ^ Ian Urbina, "University Investigates Whether Governor’s Daughter Earned Degree", New York Times, 22 January 2008, accessed 2008-04-26
  9. ^ West Virginia U. Ignores Controversy and Picks Garrison as New President, Chronicle of Higher Education, 13 April 2007, accessed 2008-05-06
  10. ^ Jonathan D. Silver and Eleanor Chute, "Controversy roils search for new WVU president", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1 April 2007, accessed 2008-04-26
  11. ^ Len Boselovic and Patricia Sabatini, "University revokes degree after scathing report on M.B.A. awarded to Bresch", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 24 April 2008, accessed 2008-04-26
  12. ^ Len Boselovic and Patricia Sabatini, "WVU faculty wants president's ouster", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6 May 2008, accessed 2008-05-06
  13. ^ Len Boselovic and Patricia Sabatini, "WVU faculty: President Garrison must go", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 14 May 2008, accessed 2008-05-14
  14. ^ a b http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/wvu-closes-book-on-fraudulent-awarding-of-mba-649973/?p=0
  15. ^ Associated Press, "[1]", Yahoo! News, 06 June 2008, accessed 2008-06-06
  16. ^ Len Boselovic and Patricia Sabatini, "Degree Scandal Not a Crime"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 October 2008
  17. ^ Spilman Thomas & Battle website, ""Professionals by name," D-H", accessed 12 July 2011
  18. ^ Ry Rivard ""Gas drillers want $42 million from Morgantown"," Daily Mail, 7 July 2011, accessed 2011-07-12
  19. ^ Ben Adducchio & Associated Press ""Company sues Morgantown over drilling ban"," West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 27 June 2011, accessed 2011-07-12; Duane Nichols ""Judge Upholds Morgantown Frack Ban, Denies Injunction, Drilling Continues"," FrackCheckWV, 25 June 2011, accessed 2011-07-12
  20. ^ Associated Press, ""Company sues W.Va town over drilling ban"," Bloomberg Businessweek, 27 June 2011, accessed 2011-07-12; Vicki Smith, Associated Press ""Gas industry cranks up PR push on W.Va. drilling"," Bloomberg Businessweek, 21 June 2001, accessed 2011-07-12; Lawrence Messina, Associated Press ""Acting W.Va. gov orders emergency Marcellus rules"", Forbes, 12 July 2011, accessed 2011-07-12.