The Richmond Register

Local News

November 2, 2007

New president unveils plans to expand EKU

When Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock invited campus and community leaders to a Friday breakfast to learn how the school will help Kentucky double the number of its college graduates by the year 2020, he expected about 160 to attend.

The newly appointed president said he was “overwhelmed,” however, when 225 showed up at the Arlington Mule Barn at 8 a.m.

Business, government and civic leaders from Richmond, Berea and Madison County crowded into the facility with EKU faculty and administrators.

Eastern expects to gradate 1,979 students this year. That number must rise to 2,397 by the year 2020 if the university is to meet the goal set for it by the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education.

The effort is not all about aggregate numbers, however.

EKU already is the state’s largest producer of new teachers in Kentucky. But the number of teachers certified to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics must increase dramatically in the next 12 years, the president said.

Whitlock asked his listeners to guess how many physics teachers were graduated last year by Kentucky’s state universities. Guesses ranged from 10 to 20. The audience was stunned to learn the correct answer, only one.

“That one physics teacher graduated from Eastern, but we’re going to have to do much better in the future,” Whitlock said.

The $54 million science education building now under construction at EKU should help meet that goal, he said. Designed with substantial input from EKU faculty, the building will feature teaching studios that are hybrids of the traditional lecture hall/laboratory format.

The building itself will be a teaching tool, Whitlock said. Public monitors will report the building’s energy use as well as the energy generated by solar cells and wind turbines built into the structure.

A new teacher-education building, which will house EKU’s Model Laboratory School, also is on the horizon. The performing arts center that will sit next to the new business and technology center will be “the finest in Kentucky and one of the finest in the nation,” Whitlock said.

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