Doug Whitlock was named interim president at Eastern Kentucky University.

Holding back tears, Doug Whitlock said he was “honored beyond words” Monday night as he was named interim president of Eastern Kentucky University.

The EKU Board of Regents approved Whitlock, who retired in 2003 as vice president for administrative affairs at the university after serving the position since 1998, to the position among five candidates during a special meeting.

He will replace Joanne Glasser, EKU’s 10th overall and first female president, after she resigned last Tuesday to become president of Bradley University in Peoria, Ill.

“I’m just going to give this place my best shot for the next 10 and a half months and I look forward to turning it over to whoever the permanent president is in least as good as shape as it is today and hopefully better,” Whitlock said after the board’s vote.

“This board is committed to this institution and continuing to move forward,” he said. “We’re going to do that together. I promise I won’t let you down.”

A resident of Richmond, Whitlock is far from a stranger to the EKU campus.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in history and social science and his Master of Arts degree at Eastern before receiving his doctorate of education at the University of Kentucky.

Whitlock, who will address faculty and staff Wednesday during an opening convocation, also has served as director of publications, director of public information and more than 20 years as executive assistant to the EKU president.

“When a sports team loses its coach at the beginning of the season, you typically name an interim that knows the team, the players, the plays, the organization and the history,” board chairman Hunter Bates said about Whitlock’s appointment. “I think the committee has recommended the perfect interim.”

“Some have called Dr. Whitlock ‘a man for all seasons,’” he said. “I believe he is the person for this particular season in the life of this university.”

Whitlock also has been a member of the Madison County School Board since 1999.

“He’s had many, many years of service here,” board member Gary Abney said about Whitlock. “I feel like he has a tremendous amount of knowledge, both of the university community and the Madison County community. He’s had many years of service with the legislators. I think he will make an excellent person to serve as interim president.”

Along with Whitlock, four other candidates were interviewed Monday for about 30 minutes about the interim position before the board’s executive committee made a recommendation.

Other candidates included: Hayward “Skip” Daugherty Jr., EKU’s events coordinator; Rodney B. Piercey, EKU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs; Aaron Thompson, EKU’s former associate vice president for academic affairs-university programs; and Thomas Richard Hanley, a professor of chemical engineering and former provost at Auburn University in Alabama.

“I think we could have hired a search firm who spent six months and still wouldn’t have come up with a stronger talent pool for the interim than what we had,” Bates said.

Glasser will help with the transition process until Sunday, when her resignation will officially be accepted. She is expected to begin her tenure at Bradley University the following day.

The board also decided that the interim president would not be considered for the permanent position and the Blanton House, the president’s home on campus will be renovated during the interim period.

“I would like to see (the interim president) focus on the task at hand — a smooth transition,” board member Teresa Barton said about excluding the interim from being a candidate for the permanent president’s position. “I think the faculty and staff deserve that. They deserve someone who is going to jump right in and do the job the best they can and not be focusing on what they’re going to do next.”

The board soon will begin looking for an executive search firm to assist in a national search for EKU’s 11th president. The goal is to find a permanent president by July 1, 2008.

“I think it’s very important to conduct this search for a permanent president very carefully and to be very careful and thoughtful about what firm we choose,” Bates said. “(We need) to look at several firms to make sure we’re not only getting a good deal, but a good product. I think the prevailing view is that we want to make sure that we do it right more so than we do it in a hurry.”

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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