The Richmond Register

August 14, 2013

Benson announces 2.5 percent raises for EKU workers

New president discusses plans, changes at university

By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — At his first convocation as president of Eastern Kentucky University, Michael Benson told faculty and staff about several changes he has planned.

His focus will be on what he called the three P’s: people, places and programs.

“Our greatest asset is the people who work here,” Benson said.

Benson said every faculty and staff member would receive a 2.5 percent raise for the 2013-14 fiscal year, effective Oct.1. He and his staff also would be looking at implementing merit bonuses and would have a plan to do that before the next fiscal year began.

Plans also have been made for changes to the campus itself, the president said, unveiling concept drawings for two new campus features.

The first was a reading porch to be built off of the back of the library. The porch would be walled in but open so people can read outdoors.

The porch will be funded by a donation of $250,000 from Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel, who helped fund the development of the Noel Creativity Studio also connected to the library.

Benson also announced his intention to create a “pedestrian mall” between the library and the Weaver Building. The mall would be an open area outside for student recreation and community gatherings.

The service road that now runs through the area would no longer be open to private vehicles, although emergency responders could still use it to access buildings nearby.

While the mall is still in early conceptual stages, Benson said he would like to expand it by tearing down McGregor Hall, just southeast of the library.

However, Benson said the No. 1 priority as far as developing the campus goes is completing phase two of the New Science Building.

“We’re putting all our eggs in the phase two basket,” Benson said.

He said the next large construction project after the science building would be a new home for the Department of Education as well as a new Model Lab School.

When it comes to the programs EKU offers, Benson said it was important to focus on what the university is good at and to improve those programs.

“What we do well, we do really well,” he said. “But we can’t be everything for everybody. We’re going to have to make some tough choices going forward.”

He said the process of deciding where to focus will take time, and he encouraged input from all levels of the faculty and staff. To facilitate communication with him, Benson announced the creation of a new website called the “EKU President’s Suggestion Box.”

Anyone wanting to send a message to the president’s office can do so by going to www.president.eku.edu/suggestions to do so. Messages may include contact information or be anonymous if desired.

Benson also stressed the importance of branding EKU. He unveiled the concept designs for a new logo and license plate, which will act as a parking pass for faculty and staff.

Seth Littrell can be reached at slittrell@richmondregister.com or 624-6623.