RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky University’s impact on the community was the focus of a speech given Friday by EKU President Dr. Michael Benson at the Business at Noon Luncheon, hosted by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.
But before speaking on the economic impact of the university, Benson talked about how education could “change lives.”
Benson said a scientist he was “intrigued with” is George Washington Carver, an African-American who was “arguably one of the most distinguished scientists of his generation,” he said.
When it was being decided what to put on Carver’s gravestone when he died, “knowing what kind of person he was,” Benson said, “this is what they put on his tombstone: ‘He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.’”
“We work in an industry, that at its core, is about changing lives,” Benson said. “We do that, we hope, on a daily basis, in a very real and meaningful sort of way when we see these students, many of whom are first-generation graduates, and how their lives have been transformed.”
The new president then offered what he called “tangible evidence” of the economic impact EKU has on the community.
• 3,300 full-time faculty and staff.
• 89 new full-time/part-time staff and faculty positions available and posted online at jobs.eku.edu.
• A monthly payroll of $13.4 million.
• A total budget, both state and auxiliary funds, of $332 million.
• Construction projects costing $61.4 million for the New Science Building; $32.6 million for the EKU Center for the Arts; and $21.4 million for a new residence hall.
• 4,985 available residence hall beds.
The new residence hall is the first to be built in 40 years. There are plans to tear down Combs Hall, Benson said, as the first step in a “process to address the aging bed population we have in our inventory.” Once the hall is razed, the university will find an appropriate place to put Earle Combs’ name, he noted.