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Messages from the Interim President

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COVID-19 Information and Spring Break Travel Advisory
March 5, 2020

Dear EKU community,

With the global health concern for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), I want you to know how EKU is monitoring public health advisories and preparing for a potential response should the need arise.

EKU Pandemic Response Team
EKU has formed a pandemic response team that is now meeting weekly to assess and evaluate potential risks to our campus community. It is important to note that, to date, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Kentucky. You are encouraged to visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for the latest information on risk and symptoms. We seek to strike the appropriate balance of facts vs. fear to take all necessary precautions, without increasing the natural anxiety for personal health and safety.

This rapidly changing information requires continued monitoring and possible adjustments to various facets of the University. Areas most likely to see modifications include international study, sponsored or elective travel, and public health protocols within EKU Public Safety, Environmental Health, Housing, Dining and Student Health Services. Representatives from these areas are in dialogue concerning best practices, current advisories and recommendations from the CDC. EKU is increasing sanitation measures as our community continues to experience seasonal flu and illness, in addition to the global health issues. An academic continuity plan is also being developed for campus wide implementation in the event health advisories would warrant any interruption to instruction.

EKU Travel Procedures
One area of heightened concern is international travel. EKU does not currently have any students, faculty or staff in approved study abroad programs in countries with restricted entry to the U.S. All international study programs are being continuously evaluated as the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) update guidelines.

With spring break approaching next week, it is prudent for all travelers to be mindful of any advisories for their destinations and avoid non-essential travel to any countries under Level 3 Warnings for widespread community transmission. To see the latest travel warnings, you are encouraged to visit the CDC’s travel information page.

Effective immediately: In accordance with the CDC recommendations, and in the interest of public health, any student or employee traveling to a country or region under a Level 3 Travel Health Notice is required to report their travel to EKU. Students should report travel and provide documentation to the EKU Dean of Students. Faculty and staff who have traveled to these areas should report travel and provide documentation to EKU Human Resources.

CDC guidelines call for a 14-day home isolation period for anyone traveling to Level 3 Travel Health Notice countries. The University must receive notification of your return to recognize the need for continued absences from work or class. Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact a health professional immediately, and follow these CDC guidelines.

In addition to these recommendations, EKU will require any student or employee who has been in contact with or lives in the same household with anyone returning from or known to have traveled in Level 3 Travel Health Notice countries to also practice self-isolation for 14 days.

A growing number of U.S. states are reporting suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19, so even domestic travel advisories should be reviewed and taken into consideration as you plan your personal or professional travel. The CDC provides daily updates on states reporting cases of illness.

As always, the best defense against the spread of illness is to follow responsible hygiene practices, something we can all implement as individuals. These recommendations include thorough and frequent handwashing, proper cough etiquette and limiting close contact with those experiencing symptoms of illness. The CDC offers detailed guidance on preventing the spread of illness.

In addition, please practice responsible behavior over spring break, avoiding situations where your health or safety could be at risk, or your judgment could be impaired. You are encouraged to also be mindful of personal hygiene in settings with large crowds and close accommodations or social environments where illness could be easily transmitted.

Additional EKU Resources and Information
Additional health advisory information specific to EKU is available at https://go.eku.edu/ncov. The LiveSafe app has also been updated to provide CDC updates under the Eastern Kentucky University info tab of the top menu.

LiveSafe App

I assure you that we will provide additional updates as needed to keep our community informed. Whether you are planning to travel or enjoy a “staycation” next week, I wish all of you a safe and healthy spring break.

Dr. David T. McFaddin
EKU Interim President


Enrollment
Management
February 28, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

It is crucial that we, as a high performing team, have a mutual understanding of our shared vision and values. To ensure we stay on track, I intend to frequently communicate the most important and timely information to you so we can be our best every day. It is critical to developing a clear understanding of University priorities and how we can work together to attain them.

Today, I will share information about one of the primary focuses of the University. At its essential core, enrollment management is a combination of recruiting new students and supporting current students. Necessary to the foundation are vital areas such as academic engagement, financial aid, scholarship, safety, campus life, brand awareness, and a student success approach that encourages structural student support from day one to graduation, and into the job market.

Earlier this month, Dr. Tanlee Wasson, Vice President of Student Success and Institutional Effectiveness, and her team coordinated a day-long enrollment summit. Nearly 70 participants from multiple areas of campus gathered to discuss our current state of enrollment. I, along with members of the cabinet, deans, and other campus leaders, began the complex conversations about how we can positively move enrollment at EKU forward into a new decade. We made initial headway into basic strategic recommendations that will help us frame how we conduct enrollment efforts for years to come at the University.

This past Wednesday, we re-convened the group to develop innovative strategies addressing many vital areas, including online students, underrepresented minorities, out-of-state students, transfer students, graduate students, financial aid, and other elements critical to student success. Look for more information regarding the initiatives soon.

One item already benefiting our effort is the merging of institutional effectiveness with enrollment management. Institutional effectiveness allows us to assess the data, trends and values of prospective students. Plus, we can better monitor the needs and priorities of our current student body. A productive institutional vision and mission correlate directly to sound recruitment, retention, graduation and engagement efforts. I believe that Dr. Wasson's passion for student success, focus on access and affordability of education, and her experience in institutional effectiveness is a winning combination for EKU.

It is necessary to point out that tuition revenue accounts for millions of dollars at EKU. It is over half of our operating budget. Therefore, enrollment strategies link directly to budgeting and the opportunities that education provides. Adequate funding helps us accomplish many goals, and financial stability is a primary objective at EKU. A strong enrollment plan will yield the needed revenue as our numbers grow.

At Eastern, we transform people's lives for the better. Speaking as proud EKU alum, my education has successfully shaped my past, it positions me to lead in the present, and it will continue to make a positive impact on my life and those around me well into the future. I am only one example of thousands of students who have a better life because of EKU. It is, at the core, our purpose and it defines us as the "School of Opportunity."

An EKU education is not merely a transactional proposition. Instead, it is a century-old commitment to excellence that can grow our enrollment to numbers that correspond with our transformational capacity. More importantly, if we nurture our institutional purpose, it will produce new and returning students who will flourish at our institution. It will also yield a diverse student body that represents the excellence of inclusivity, allowing all who enroll at Eastern to feel empowered and embraced.

A positive development in this area is the appointment of Ashley Offutt as Interim Director of the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. She will serve in this role through the search process until a permanent director is appointed. Ashley is committed to the success of EKU students and strives to give voice to diverse perspectives. Also, the President's Inclusive Exclusive Advisory Council is forming subcommittees that will meet soon. Individuals composing the committees have been identified and I look forward to reviewing the innovative work of these teams. This work will strengthen our continued outreach and support of underrepresented minority populations at our University.

A degree from EKU is a point of pride for all who attain it. The promise of a bright future is not a "sales pitch" but a reality. We see it every day in the accomplishments of many successful Eastern alumni. In Kentucky, you won't search long to find Colonels who are powering communities from Pikeville to Paducah. It is a vast network of people who have shared experiences unique to degree holders from EKU. For me, being a Colonel is an honor. We must relay the "Eastern Experience" to as many prospective students as possible. If we share our Colonel pride, others will seek to be a part of what we offer.

No matter what your role at EKU, you are a recruiter and retainer of students. What you say about Eastern, and the service you provide to campus influences perceptions about the University. We must work in unison on this priority. Your input is essential.

Over the next few weeks, follow up discussions with the Enrollment summit group will continue. Additionally, I, along with members of our University leadership team, will be conducting small group meetings with students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The sessions will provide an opportunity for you to share your ideas about how you can positively affect enrollment, retention, and student success at EKU.

I look forward to working with the entire campus on our enrollment efforts. As stated earlier, I believe frequent communication is essential for us to move forward together. I will continue to reach out to you electronically and in person so that we all remain aware and invested in EKU's future.

Thank you for all you do.

David T. McFaddin


Priorities
January 17, 2020

Dear colleagues,

President Emeritus Doug Whitlock said, “You simply cannot overestimate what well-intentioned people working together can accomplish.” I believe Dr. Whitlock is correct. His statement is a testament to our past, and it remains true today. At EKU, as a valued member of the Colonel family, your work results in the positive transformation of lives. It is powerful, and a unique experience shared by EKU degree holders across the globe. The well-being and success of our students is the common bond that connects every area of campus. It is a gratifying result, but getting there requires dedication and persistence by every member of the team. 

One thing I hope you come to appreciate about me is my work ethic. I am not a stranger to hard work, and I focus on solutions, not problems. Also, I believe in shared responsibility. Decisions made in isolation lack focus and clarity. However, when the team shares the responsibility, choices empower the group, stand a higher chance of lasting success, and promote confidence in decision making at all levels of the institution. Fortunately, I work with an innovative administrative council that understands this philosophy. During a recent meeting, we put theory into practice. The council members came together and developed shared priorities to help guide the administration into the new year. The fruit of our collaboration will be the foundation of my work as Interim President. The primary priorities of the administration will include:

  • Strategic Enrollment: Student recruitment and retention are crucial to our success. Educating our students is our guidepost as an institution of higher learning. It is also our primary source of revenue.

  • Financial Stewardship: We must continue to discover efficiencies that focus on increasing net revenue in all areas of the institution to serve the broadest socioeconomic spectrum of students.

  • Student Experience: Our students deserve to have a unique Eastern Experience that is rewarding and differentiates EKU from other colleges and universities.

  • Institutional Operations and Culture: We must embrace an inclusive culture of service to each other, our students, and our community through empowerment, engagement, and efficiency.

The priorities build on the shoulders of an outstanding academic experience that only EKU can provide. As the core of our mission, we must foster and support our exceptional learning opportunities, programs, and instruction. Academic excellence is baked into each of the priorities and will be the hub of our implementation.

I look forward to working on these important topics with you. EKU is better because of your dedication and hard work. We have much to accomplish, and students deserve our best effort. If we work together, shoulder to shoulder, I am confident we will be successful.

Have a great extended weekend as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.   

Thank you for all you do!
David T. McFaddin

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Welcome Back
January 14, 2020

Dear EKU community:

Welcome back to campus. I hope your winter break was restful and you are ready to kick off the first semester of a new decade. Happy New Year to everyone. The outlook for 2020 at EKU is bright. I am excited to continue working with you to make this semester the best one possible for our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners.

I am humbled to begin my appointment as the Interim President of Eastern Kentucky University. As a Kentucky native, first-generation student, and EKU graduate, an opportunity to lead this great institution finds me filled with immeasurable gratitude and pride. EKU is affectionately called the “School of Opportunity.” As the old saying goes, if seeing is believing, then my eyes are wide open to the opportunities EKU affords us. From student to a corporate executive leader to EKU faculty member to a cabinet leader in the University administration, and now Interim President, Eastern has guided me on a path that I could not have imagined as a first-generation student from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. As Interim President, I can continue to expand my efforts to help others achieve their dreams. I know it can happen, and I am positive the work we do together will produce great results for our current students.

There are countless people I must thank for preparing me to succeed in this role. With too many to mention individually, I will keep the list brief.

President Emeritus Doug Whitlock presented me with the opportunity to move from the corporate sector and begin my career at EKU. By his words and actions, he demonstrated what it means to be a Colonel. No one loves EKU more than Dr. Whitlock. His loyalty to the institution and genuine care for all of its people inspire me to appreciate the “Essential Eastern.” Through his leadership, I truly understand and embrace EKU’s transformative power to change lives for the better.

President Emeritus Michael T. Benson is a mentor and friend who has taught me so much in his time as President. He demonstrated the importance of dedication, fairness, and compassion that I try to emulate every day through my work. His consistent concern and love for our students was a daily reminder of what is important about our roles at the University. 

I also want to thank the Board of Regents for expressing confidence in me to be the Interim President. Board Chairman Lewis Diaz has an unmatched passion for EKU. It is infectious and inspiring. I am grateful for his support. I look forward to continuing to work with our outstanding regents, who are all advocates for Eastern Kentucky University.

For those who have sent notes and well wishes from across campus and in the community, I thank you. Your words of encouragement are comforting as we begin our work to mitigate challenges and leverage opportunities that solidify a degree from EKU as a clear path forward on a journey of personal transformation and academic success.

As time allows, I look forward to connecting with every area of campus. I am very interested in your input and expertise to help guide the success of our great institution. We also have digital communication channels active for the Office of the President. A web page is being developed, and a social media presence, @EKUPresident, has just been launched.

Although it is early in the semester, we are already moving the needle in a positive direction. I am a firm believer that health and learning go hand in hand. I am happy to announce that our brand-new recreation center is now open. This is an impressive facility. We must take care of our bodies as it supports our minds. I urge you to take advantage of the beautiful recreation center. 

I plan to communicate with the campus regularly. Transparency is important. I want to ensure we have the information needed to help us see clearly, think broadly, serve our students and one another to the best of our ability. 

In closing, I wish our students the best as they tackle another semester of classes. I remind you to focus on your studies. And rest assured that our focus is on your success.

Let’s have a great spring semester as we begin a new year and a new decade. Go Big E!

Dr. David McFaddin
Interim President

Published on February 20, 2020

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