The Richmond Register

April 4, 2013

EKU at the crossroads

Our view

Register staff report

RICHMOND — The visits are over and now the Board of Regents has a very difficult, but vitally important decision to make in selecting the next president of Eastern Kentucky University.

Their decision will help shape the university and the community for many years to come. Whoever is selected will face a university and community at a crossroads.

The decision will have long-lasting ramifications, and it should not be made in haste or without honest discussion.

Each board member should evaluate each candidate based on their research and observations as well as the intangibles each candidate possesses. Emotions and personal preference should be checked at the door. This decision is too important to move quickly.

The candidates have many commonalities but distinct differences in personality and charisma.

All have high levels of education and records of professional achievement, but each brings something different to the table. Each has different goals and priorities, while all appear to exhibit the passion required to be successful as EKU’s next president.

But which one has the right stuff because the most important thing they all have in common is inheriting a university at the crossroads.

The current economy will test the next president’s will and passion. It will require all his strength and creativity while certainly exposing his weaknesses. The next president will have to accomplish more with less as the university explores ways to reduce its operating budget by $23 million. He will have to create strategies to turn around current enrollment and graduation trends.

Superb communication skills will be needed to market EKU and this community to secure funding needed to reach the highest level of excellence. He will have to improve morale in the most difficult times many of us have ever seen. He will have to reconnect a university and a community that have wandered apart for too long.

The challenges are many, but the only thing that really matters is meeting the challenges head-on to move EKU and this community forward.

That is why the Board of Regents should take a step back and take the time needed to select the best fit to lead us and once again instill the power of maroon in Kentucky.

That’s really what’s at stake with their decision.