The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents met for the second time during the 2021-22 academic year and passed a motion to allow the president to approve the acquisition of 300 acres adjacent to Meadowbrook farm on Thursday, Sept. 23
Director of athletics Matt Roan opened the meeting by reading the resolution to rename EKU’s Olympic Sports Training Center after Rick Erdmann. Erdmann served as EKU’s cross country and track and field coach for 39 years, and under his leadership, EKU’s men’s and women’s team won a combined 54 Ohio Valley Conference cross country titles and 14 outdoor track titles. The resolution overwhelmingly passed, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renaming is set for homecoming weekend on Oct. 2.
The football home opener on Sept. 18, according to Roan, saw record-breaking game attendance since 2014, with 4,246 students in attendance. Similarly, the women’s soccer game against the University of Kentucky saw a record crowd as well with 1,070 people.
Roan continued by discussing the “21 for ‘21” campaign implemented this year. The plan, designed to increase school spirit and safety at games, includes pop-up vaccination clinics; postgame fireworks; a clear bag policy; a new team intro; and the renovation of Roy Kidd Stadium, which consists of new turf and stadium lights. According to Roan, these changes to the stadium were an investment in the fan experience.
“Roy Kidd Stadium looked as good, in my opinion, as it ever has this past Saturday night,” Roan said.
Roan discussed the new implementation of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policies for athletes at EKU. According to Roan, no athlete will be found in violation of the NCAA policy as long as they are in compliance with Kentucky law.
However, all students are required to inform EKU of any deals they acquire via the NOCAP compliance and reporting tool. Roan said, “Students are required to let us know in advance of securing any sponsorship deal; who they’re working with, what parameters of that deal will be.”
EKU athletics is also experiencing a rise in self-generated support. According to Roan, the 12-month period, which ended on Aug. 31, was the best 12-month cash total reported in program history. Football revenue is up 36.6% from 2019 and 24.7% from 2020, while actual ticket sales are up 10.9% and 12.2%.
EKU has also severed its relationship with the collegiate sports marketing company Learfield IMG College. The change, according to Roan, was the best decision for the college. Roan said, “We felt we could do that (marketing) better in-house.”
Shawn Hamilton, a former IMG employee, has taken the role at EKU.
Currently, 88% of all EKU athletes have received one or more COVID-19 vaccinations. Roan said, “COVID-19 has not gone away for us in athletics. We continue to deal with it, we continue to follow NCAA resocialization guidelines.”
Students and athletes are still required to wear facial coverings while indoors, but there is no capacity restriction in place for any athletic event.
Following Roan’s presentation, Vice President for Student Life Dannie Moore and Senior Vice President for Student Success Tanlee Wasson, presented on student life and enrollment. Wasson stated that EKU has experienced record-breaking freshman enrollment, with a 10% increase in the 2025 class size. Overall, the university has experienced a 12% increase in student enrollment, with a 20% increase in enrollment from EKU’s service region. Underrepresented populations at EKU have also experienced a growth of 4.6%.
The number of students living on EKU’s campus has increased significantly as well, with over 3,800 students living on campus. Dormitories have returned to full capacity, and nearly 70% of freshmen have chosen to live on campus. Concerning move-in, Wasson said, “We were excited to see students in all our spaces.”
Moore further elaborated on student life this year. 2,500 students participated in Big E Welcome and related events, including Powell Palooza. Moore said, “College should be fun, and we want to deliver on that experience for these students.”
The university plans to continue these exciting events for students throughout the year, including performances by T-Pain, Pete Davidson and JP Saxe as well as seasonal events.
EKU President David McFaddin presented a strategic plan for the university through the year 2030. According to McFaddin, the plan is designed to ensure that students reach their full potential.
McFaddin said, “EKU is the school of opportunity where everyone belongs.”
Strategic priorities include the goals of knowledge, innovation and transformation to ultimately improve the university. According to McFaddin, these pillars are essential to growth. “Knowledge is at the center of EKU’s commitment to serve as the school of opportunity ... Innovative thinking and bold action will elevate and differentiate EKU,” he said.
McFaddin went on to say that he was excited to see the future of the university, taking in consideration the last year and the pandemic. He said that the beginning of the fall 2021 semester was “one of the best starts of a semester we have seen.”
Vice President of Finance and Administration Barry Poynter followed McFaddin with the preliminary budget report. According to Poynter, actual education and general revenue for the 2020-21 academic year was $216.2 million while expenditures were $214.2 million. EKU’s auxiliary budget experienced a loss of $822,296. However, EKU’s 2020-21 budget was positive at $1.15 million.
The Adams Tennis Center, Campus Recreation, WEKU Public Radio, White Hall and the Center for the Arts all experienced revenue loss during the 2020-21 year.
Currently, education and general revenue through the end of August is at approximately $3.1 million. According to Poynter, this increase is coming from both the increase in tuition and the appropriation of funds.
Following break, the board moved to additional reports. The first presentation was the senate chair report by Richard Crosby, chair of faculty senate. Crosby has returned the senate and executive committee meetings online due to COVID-19 concerns. Crosby and the senate are also collecting responses to a survey and EKU’s COVID-19 protocol. The current and on-going evaluation of President McFaddin, Crosby stated, closes on October 9th.
Following Crosby, Caelin Scott presented the staff council report. Scott stated that the council changed their bylaws in the last year to increase membership and elections will be held again in November to fill the remaining positions. The council is once again hosting the annual breakfast with the university president, scheduled for October. SGA President Jenna Grace Smith also presented, discussing the election of eight new senators as well as the importance of social media for the organization.
McFaddin presented again, reiterating the importance of the strategic plan. He said that, despite the growth the university is experiencing, EKU is still struggling with retention rates. According to the president, EKU must now focus on recruitment, retention and graduation. He also discussed the nearly 16 corporate education partnerships EKU has acquired that has allowed adult learners to gain education at reduced rates. Once again, he also discussed COVID-19 and increasing case numbers. He said, “As COVID is spreading in the community—yes, we have COVID on campus—we are managing that.”
McFaddin closed by discussing the search for college deans on EKU’s campus. The university is currently searching for four deans, and it hopes to have these positions filled by January.
All proposed action items were approved by the board.
Following closed session, regent Reeves motioned to approve the president’s authority to approve the acquisition of 300 acres adjacent to Meadowbrook farm, purchase price not exceeding 2.5 million. The motion was seconded by Long with a unanimous roll call vote.
The next Board of Regents meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9, 2021 at 10 a.m.