RICHMOND — The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents, meeting in regular session Friday, elected Craig Turner as chair
Abney, who has served 13 years on the board, had announced his intention to step down as chair in a communication to the board and campus on Thursday, Jan. 24.
“The EKU Board of Regents now has in progress, with the very able assistance of the EKU Presidential Search and Screening Committee, one of the Board’s most important fiduciary duties and responsibilities – the search for and selection of the 12th President of our university,” Abney said Thursday.
“At this crucial time in EKU’s history, it is vital that EKU be able to attract the strongest presidential applicant pool possible. With this in mind, I have decided not to seek re-election as chair of the board for the remainder of my term of Jan. 25 through June 30, 2013.
"I believe it is in the best interest of EKU for the board to elect a chair who is able to serve a complete one-year term, thereby removing any concern or doubt a potential presidential candidate may have in not knowing who will serve as chair of the EKU Board of Regents during the entire 2013 calendar year.
“Although I will not seek nomination for another term as chair of the board, I shall remain passionately committed and dedicated to EKU as a regent for the remainder of my appointed term and as an alumnus and friend throughout the remainder of my life,” Abney continued.
“I shall always cherish the opportunity to have served as a regent and as chair of the EKU Board of Regents.”
Turner, who joined the board in 2006, had been serving as vice chair of the board as well as chair of the Finance and Planning Committee.
A 1975 EKU graduate, he is founder and chairman/CEO of MedPro Safety Products Inc., a publicly traded company, and founder and CEO of CRM Companies, which currently employs 400 throughout the southeast U.S. He serves on several other boards, including the Lexington Center Corporation (Rupp Arena).
Turner saluted Abney for his “passion and love for the university. We’ll miss your leadership and I’ll do my best to fill your shoes.”
Ernie House, of London, was elected vice chair to replace Turner in that role.
Turner, who is chairing the university’s 12-member Presidential Search and Screening Committee, reported to the board that the committee will meet in late February to narrow the applicant pool to 8-10 candidates to succeed President Doug Whitlock, who announced in August his decision to retire in July 2013.
Early indications point to “a very strong candidate pool,” said Turner, adding that the committee hopes to announce a selection by mid-April after visits to campus by finalists for the position.
The board also heard reports on enrollment management, measures of student success and EKU’s rapidly growing online programs, as well as an update on the construction of a new 256-bed, suite-style residence hall on Kit Carson Drive, which is set to open for fall 2013.
EKU’s fall 2012 enrollment was down 0.6 percent, from 16,062 to 15,968, but it was noted that spring 2013 enrollment is running slightly ahead of spring 2012, and early projections for fall 2013 indicate an approximately 3 percent jump in new freshmen.
Significant improvements were also noted in the university’s four-year graduation rate, which has more than doubled in the past eight years, and five-year rate, which has increased approximately 33 percent.
“We’re not where we need to be,” Whitlock said, “but we’re certainly moving the needle in the right direction.”