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Campus Message - June 25, 2020

Keen Johnson with clouds

Dear campus community, 

For the past several months, in real-time, we have watched the world change before our eyes. And we are required to change as well. The impact of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented in the history of this institution and our Commonwealth, presents enormous challenges and​ unique opportunities. We are also witnessing an awakening across our country and a call for recognizing and addressing a history of social injustice, inequity, and discrimination facing communities of color, and specifically the Black community. We cannot erase the pain of recent tragedies nor immediately heal the hurt of systemic racism, but we can make every effort to do better moving forward. Over the past century, EKU’s resolve has been tested multiple times and in various ways. Yet, we endure and push forward with purpose and passion. We continue to ensure anyone looking for their opportunity can find it here. We will respond responsibly on both fronts and set forth together on a bright path toward our future. We are firmly committed to our students, faculty and staff equally for good health, and personal and professional success.

The next meeting of the Board of Regents will take place on June 30, 2020. It will be the first time in our history that our Regents will meet entirely in a virtual setting. It is a full schedule of material relevant to the operation and governance of EKU. To foster awareness among the campus community, I will highlight several items that will be discussed during the meeting. 

EKU–Colonels Comeback Plan

The salient points of the fall semester plan will be presented to the Regents for review. Academic and administrative adjustments under appropriate guidelines will be covered, including the academic calendar, housing plans, dining plans, health protocols and more. The plan we call Colonels Comeback will be available to the campus community after the Board Meeting. The plan centers on the health and well-being of our students and employees. Following the guidelines to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus may be the most important thing we can do as a campus community to ensure a successful fall semester. It will require flexibility, innovation and cooperation. I thank the Fall Contingency Planning Task Force and the COVID-19 task force for developing our plan. Now we turn our focus to implementation. Together, as we put the plan into practice, we will show our resolve to deliver a transformative educational experience for our students. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership

To support EKU’s commitment to a welcoming and inclusive environment, a new cabinet-level position will help guide our institution in the important areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. I am pleased to announce that Dr​. Dannie Moore​​ has been selected as EKU’s first Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer. His appointment will become effective on July 15. Dr. Moore brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as both an established diversity and inclusion practitioner and student affairs administrator. His leadership and vision for EKU will challenge us to approach inclusive excellence as a strategic and collaborative goal for every area​ of our University. As a member of the President’s Council, Dr. Moore will lead our work to immediately implement a variety of education, training and programmatic initiatives to increase cultural competencies and raise awareness of implicit bias. As we create the changes needed on our campus, in our communities and throughout the world, we will see clearly, think broadly, and feel deeply about this critical work. 

The University Budget

Our campus has met the COVID-19 epidemic with great resolve. But it does come at a cost in terms of lost revenue, significant housing and dining refunds, NCAA season disruptions and more. We will balance this year's budget with emergency relief funds, position vacancies, and diligent operational savings without creating a significant impact on our workforce.

I report this with a sense of relief but also with caution. I commend our Office of Finance and Administration for working with other units in the President’s Council to find every possible dollar to balance the budget this year. However, as the state grapples with its budget, any further cuts to our state appropriation will impact all areas of the institution. Be assured, we will work with leaders in Frankfort to assert that education is a critical component of addressing public health and societal challenges.  

Student Success

We are making adjustments to improve the student experience at EKU. Starting July 1st, Student Success and Student Affairs will be reunited to provide our students with a consistent and comprehensive campus experience. In this realignment, Campus Recreation will be shifted to reporting to Matt Roan, Vice President for Athletics and Recreation. The remaining units will report to Dr. Tanlee Wasson, our Vice President of Student Success, Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness. I thank Vice President Dr. Skip Daugherty for his wisdom and administrative skills to lead the Student Affairs team. As he will be stepping down from his current role, I am reminded that Skip has given so much of his time and energy to EKU in countless roles for many years. He is forever a Colonel, and he has my most profound appreciation.

To launch our renewed Office of Student Success and Student Affairs, I am happy to announce a new initiative called the EKU Advantage. We are providing solutions that address the primary concern of every student and their families: COST. For the next year, EKU will freeze tuition, dining, and housing rates. Application fees are waived for all students who wish to apply. We will accept non-official transcripts, and waive ACT and SAT scores from the admission requirements. We have also revised our financial aid offerings to assist more need-based applicants, and have extended the SMART rate to undergraduate students from all states. It is an exciting series of initiatives that we are hopeful will provide our students and their families more financial stability as they plan during a period in our history that is difficult to predict. Learn more about the EKU Advantage on our website.

EKU will remain the “School of Opportunity.” Eastern supports and fosters success for students from all walks of life, with more than 50 percent of our graduates being first-generation students, low-income students, or both. EKU is their launching pad for a successful future. We must support both in-classroom and out-of-classroom activities that produce well-rounded, critically thinking students who are the leaders of tomorrow and who will transform the world for the better.

Undoubtedly, the fall semester will present new challenges. We will be tested as a community and as individuals. Now is the time to find the courage to address painful realities, focus on our strengths, and stay grounded in integrity and centered by our shared values to do what is right for our students. Moving forward, I will never miss an opportunity to share the EKU story and I will always be a champion for our students, employees and alumni. As an EKU graduate, I understand how earning a degree from EKU can change lives for the better. It is worthy of our best efforts, and we are at our best when we stand together. 

One Eastern,

David T. McFaddin
Interim President
Eastern Kentucky University

Published on June 25, 2020

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