The Richmond Register

September 29, 2012

EKU regents begin presidential search


Special to the Register

RICHMOND — The search for Eastern Kentucky University’s 12th president has begun.

A search and screening committee will be established “within the next several weeks,” Gary Abney, EKU regents chair, said as the board met Friday.

The committee win include at least one member representing faculty, staff, students, alumni, EKU Foundation Board, the external community and the regents, he said.

After EKU President Doug Whitlock announced in August his intention to retire effective July 31, requests for proposals were sent to a number search firms, and four responses were received. The board will meet with representatives from each of the four respondents on Friday, Oct. 12.

Once the search and screening committee is in place and a firm has been selected to assist in the search process, the regents will schedule a series of open forums with different constituent groups: faculty, staff, students, alumni and community leaders.

“I see this as absolutely essential,” Abney said of the forums. “We need a clear outline of what we wish this university to become over the next decade.

“We want the selection of the new president to be an open process in which the various stakeholders can participate,” he continued, “yet we need to protect the identity of applicants in order to attract the strongest candidates possible.”

Abney said he would issue periodic updates on the search process.

“The board knows we are not only hiring the 12th president of Eastern, but a leader for our entire community,” Abney said. “We are committed to giving everyone an opportunity to weigh in through in-person forums.”

Abney also thanked Whitlock for his service.

“I know I speak for the entire board when I thank Doug for his guidance and service over the past years,” Abney said. “Our lives have been enriched and this university remains strong because of his contributions. We all extend our deepest gratitude to President and Mrs. Whitlock and wish them the best in the coming years.”

In other business, the board:

•    Elected the following slate of officers: Craig Turner, vice chair; Steve Fulkerson, secretary; Virginia Underwood, assistant secretary; and Barry Poynter, treasurer. Abney’s term as president was not up for consideration.

• Heard a presentation by Jim Fisher, author and president emeritus of Towson University and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). Fisher, who has served as a consultant to more than 300 colleges and universities, was invited by President Whitlock to discuss university assessment.

• Learned from James Street, vice president for administration, that new student housing now under construction on Kit Carson Drive is on track to be completed by August 2013. The $21 million, 86,000-square-foot facility will include 256 beds.

• Learned from Whitlock that the university’s efforts to develop mathematics and English transition programs in schools throughout the region are paying dividends and saving students and their families money. The number of EKU students needing remedial mathematics courses has dropped from 1,274 to 811 in just two years, while the number needing English remediation had dropped approximately 56 percent in the same period.

• Accepted what Vice Chair Turner termed a “very clean” annual audit by Crowe Horwath.

• Viewed a rendering of an overhead pedestrian walkway that will cross Lancaster Avenue near the new private student housing facility now under construction at the corner of Lancaster and Barnes Mill Road. The university and developer are sharing the cost, and after 15 years the University will take ownership of the walkway.

• Welcomed to the board new two members: Janie Miller, Shelbyville, the state’s former Health and Family Services Secretary; and newly-elected Student Regent Madelyn Street.