By Adam Baker/Editor
Eastern’s leadership team has been altered by several retirements, resignations and hires – the latest of which is the retirement of James Keith, director of information technology and delivery services.
A campus wide e-mail from the President’s office announced Tuesday Keith would retire at the end of next month.
Keith has served 33 years at Eastern. An interim director will be appointed soon, according to the e-mail. Keith will continue to serve Eastern on a part-time basis during the transition.
Other changes include the appointment of two new vice presidents during the summer.
The shake-up means all four vice presidents, each hired in the last 18 months, are fairly new to campus. Vice President of Student Affairs James Conneely, hired in February of last year, is now the senior vice president.
James Chapman, former provost at the University of Alaska Anchorage, replaced Lyle Cook as provost and vice president of academics affairs.
Cook was named to the position in July of last year after a national search. University President Joanne Glasser announced in May, via e-mail, that Cook stepped down from his administrative position to teach in the math department.
Cook could not be reached before press time.
Chapman, the fourth provost under Glasser, will serve Eastern on an interim basis for three years.
One of his main goals, Chapman said, is to get people focused on the idea they make a contribution to “the creation of knowledge.”
“Sometimes we … think more about our college or our area and forget that what we’re trying to do is increase knowledge in general.”
Before coming to Eastern, Chapman also spent 26 years at the University of Kentucky.
In June, Glasser announced, via e-mail, Ken Johnston, vice president of financial affairs, left Eastern to pursue other opportunities.
Former university President Bob Kustra appointed Johnston nearly three years ago.
Johnson could not be reached for comment.
Eastern’s budget director Debbie Newsom now serves as interim vice president. Newsom has held the title of budget director since November.
Newsom said she wants to focus on long-term financial planning, the budgeting process and better serving the university community.
Newsom added she would like to eventually remove her interim title and become the permanent leader of financial affairs.
“Having served in the role of vice president at two other institutions, I’ve realized that sitting in this chair that there are many things about it that I’ve missed doing,” she said.
Eastern’s Division of Public Safety is also under new leadership this year.
Mark Welker, from Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania, was hired to replace Director of Public Safety Tom Lindquist, who retired at the end of the spring semester after 27 years at Eastern.
With the addition of Welker also comes a restructuring of public safety. Vice President of Student Affairs James Conneely said the title of director of public safety has been changed to chief of police.
Since Lindquist took the position 27 years ago, the job has changed, Conneely said. He added there is now going to be more focus on the police working together with the university community.
Welker said he has several goals for public safety this year.
“The one thing that I want to do is establish more of a community police philosophy,” he said.
“Basically what it boils down to is developing a better working relationship with the community. We’re going to try that through providing foot patrols, bicycle patrols (and) try to develop various programs that are of interest to the campus community.”
Welker added he plans to increase the public safety staff in the future.
“Within a few months, I think people will notice a little bit more visibility on the part of the department,” he said.
The university also said goodbye to Eastern veteran Skip Daugherty during the summer. Daugherty, former director of alumni relations, has been a part of Eastern for 34 years.
Daugherty will continue coordinating various university special events and teaching part time, according to a campus wide e-mail from the President’s office.
Jackie Ballinger, director of regional advancement since July of last year, took the title of interim director of alumni relations last month.
Virginia Underwood has assumed the role of chief of staff and executive director of policy, compliance and governance.
Underwood formerly held the title of director of the Equal Opportunity office.
Glasser “realigned” the human resources office and Equal Opportunity office so that they’re both still supervised by Underwood.
In addition to all her duties, Underwood also serves as assistant secretary to Eastern’s Board of Regents.
With the many changes in Eastern’s leadership team, Newsom said she understood the shake-up could send out mixed messages.
“I know what it can appear to look like, but that’s really not what’s going on here at all,” she said.
“The message I think it should send … is President Gasser is very committed to the quality of this institution. When opportunities, for whatever reasons, have come up for new hires and replacements she has taken very serious the role of filling those.”
Chapman said his commitment to stick with the university for three years and the quality of the new hires should show the university isn’t unstable.
“I think that the individuals that we have in place are individuals committed to EKU and to Kentucky, so I feel like we will have some stability,” he said.