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Message from President David T. McFaddin - December 10, 2020

EKU University Building

Dear Colleagues,

Eastern Kentucky University is a place of positive transformation. We can transform a student's passion into a lifetime of purpose, and we can empower them through education to fuel a successful career. When I assumed the role of EKU Interim President in December of 2019, I was confident that despite formidable enrollment projections and budgetary challenges, we would succeed if we worked together as one Eastern.

We encountered many obstacles to a meaningful on-campus college experience due to COVID-19. Still, we met obstacles with innovative ideas, fierce determination, and a lot of sweat and tears in the process. So, in keeping with our mission, you have faced a global pandemic, addressed it head-on, and continued to educate and serve our students.

Many unsung heroes have gone above and beyond this year. We have witnessed incredible devotion to our mission at every level of our organization. First, I acknowledge the tireless effort of our University leadership. The President's Cabinet has spent countless hours navigating a reinvention of our operations. I owe them a debt of gratitude. 

Academic Affairs

I am incredibly grateful to our Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Jerry Pogatshnik, for his tenure leading academic affairs up to his planned and well-earned retirement on June 30, 2021. What a great way to close an already accomplished career! In his 15 years at EKU, Dr. Pogatshnik has offered great wisdom, planning, and insight into fulfilling our academic mission with a commitment to faculty development and serving our students. His steady leadership following a series of transitions within academic affairs has proven to be invaluable. I thank him for his dedication to EKU and for helping me with my transition to President.

Now, we find ourselves at another crossroads in our academic leadership. Much thought and consideration have gone into the best path forward. We can't afford to lose ground or slow the momentum of a successful semester in these highly unusual and uncertain times. It is clear that we already have a qualified candidate to step into the Chief Academic Officer role. To determine this, I have worked closely with Dr. Pogatshnik and consulted with key constituencies on campus. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Sara Zeigler will begin an appointment as the new Provost and Chief Academic Officer following Dr. Pogatshnik's retirement. Dr. Zeigler has served as the founding Dean of EKU's College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS) since 2016. Before leading CLASS, she was the Dean of University Programs. Since coming to EKU in 1996, Dr. Zeigler has held the positions of Professor and Department Chair within the college and has received several honors recognizing her leadership. This academic year, as the Co-Chair of the Contingency Planning Task Force, Dr. Zeigler has been instrumental in representing Academic Affairs. She has worked effectively with Dr. Pogatshnik, the President's Cabinet, and the entire campus during challenging and unpredictable times. I am confident that her leadership will allow us to realize a seamless transition in the Provost Office this summer. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Zeigler on this appointment. A national search for the next Dean of CLASS will begin in early 2021. 

Colonels Care Employee Investment 

As we approach the holiday break, "thank you" does not adequately acknowledge our faculty and staff's work to reach this point successfully. I hope you will enjoy some well-deserved rest during our University break from December 16 - January 3. Your efforts this past semester during unprecedented circumstances created by COVID-19 is nothing short of amazing. As part of the Colonels Care initiative, I am glad to announce that EKU will provide a well-deserved payment of $1,000 to every full-time employee of the University hired before September 30, 2020. This year, your diligent work to lower expenses and improve efficiencies in every part of our operation made this investment in you and show of appreciation possible. I intend this to be the beginning of a meaningful employee investment initiative that we will explore and implement each year. Our future depends on our collective efforts to make EKU the first-choice institution of higher learning in the state of Kentucky and a global leader for those seeking their opportunities. This payment is about more than money--it's about expressing gratitude for your dedication and teamwork. This semester tells me that we can accomplish anything when we come together as one Eastern. Thank you, and I hope this gesture brightens your holiday season.

The payment will be issued on December 15, 2020, independent of your regular payroll cycle, and only those withholdings required will be withheld. I appreciate the work of our Finance and Administration staff to implement this initiative. 

Virtual Commencement

Tomorrow we will celebrate our latest graduates with a virtual commencement for the December class of 2020. You will find the details on viewing it here. We congratulate our students for overcoming the challenges of the past year and completing their educational goals. 

New Student Initiative

Before we close the semester, I invite you to tune in for a significant announcement to our campus community next week.

The details are still under wraps, but you will not want to miss what's planned. I hope you will watch the video announcement beginning at 10:00 a.m. Monday, December 14. We look forward to sharing exciting news for our students. Students are the lifeblood of our institution, and this announcement will further our promise that we are the School of Opportunity. 

I am optimistic that we will return to a more normalized existence in 2021. We will remain vigilant to keep our community, our employees, and our students healthy and well with mask-wearing, social distancing, good hygiene, and mindfulness until we have conquered this challenge and return to the regular but exceptional Eastern Experience.

Again, thank you for your dedication to EKU in 2020. And may 2021 be the best year in the history of our institution!

One Eastern,

Dr. David McFaddin
President, Eastern Kentucky University

Published on December 10, 2020

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