By JACOB BLAIR
The theme set for the year ahead by the Board of Regents members: change.
“I’m a proponent of change,” Board Chairman Craig Turner said at Monday’s meeting. “It’s going to be a transformational year.”
Turner said the university will take a hard look at ways to create newer facilities and to improve the existing buildings on campus. He said growth would come in the form of fundraising opportunities and public/private partnerships, adding that the state has no interest in funding new university housing construction projects.
Student Regent Kyle Nicholas spoke to the Board about the new proposed student fee-funded projects, such as renovating the Powell Building and adding a new fitness and wellness center.
“I believe it will truly secure a bright future for Eastern,” Nicholas said.
An ad hoc committee is being created in the Student Senate. Nicholas said the initiative needs a three-fourths vote to pass and hopes that vote will take place on or before March 17.
“I can’t think of a good reason not to be wildly supportive of this idea,” said Richard Day, chairman of Faculty Senate.
Day also mentioned numerous policies both in the works and approved by Faculty Senate.
President Michael Benson then addressed the Board about different initiatives such as the President’s Leadership in Action Academy. He said about 80 faculty and staff members applied and 18 were selected for the first year.
“(It) gives them a 30,000 feet above view (of the university) to take back to their respective areas,” Benson said.
The 18 selected participants have been schooled in the administrative side of the university, a side they don’t necessarily know a lot about, under the leadership of the President’s Council.
In other Board of Regents news:
A resolution was passed to issue $15.5 million in bonds to support the building of a new football grandstand and classroom facility. Barry Poynter, vice president for finance and administration, said the bonds were 20-year notes. The money could also be used to support baseball and softball field projects, but more of that funding will be through private gifts.
Following a closed executive session, the Board approved a motion to allocate up to $97,000 to purchase the Ledford-Craig property adjacent to the Lilley Cornett Woods in Letcher County.
The Board officially designated Mary C. Roark as Eastern’s second president. Roark was previously designated as acting president during a 13-month span between April 1909 and April 1910 after her husband Ruric Roark, Eastern’s first president, became ill and died in 1909.
The Board along with Benson recognized Sandra Moore, the associate provost for diversity planning, for her 25-year commitment to improving Eastern.
“To say thank you is an understatement,” Moore said to the Board after a standing ovation. “…I had the privilege of turning challenges into opportunities.”
Turner was reelected as the Board’s chairman for the upcoming year.
Benson suggested the Board to return to Frankfort later this month to meet with legislators and Eastern graduates working in the state government, after the regents traveled to the Capitol last year in a successful effort to secure funding for Phase II of the New Science Building.
The Board’s next quarterly meeting is tentatively scheduled for April 27 and will be hosted by the College of Education.