Eastern Kentucky University President David McFaddin alerted students and faculty on March 17 of the passing of former interim president Dr. Eugene M. Hughes.
Hughes earned degrees in mathematics, including a Bachelor of Science from Chadron State College in Nebraska, a Master of Science from Kansas State University and a Ph.D. from George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. While at Chadron, he became a National Science Foundation fellow.
Hughes came out of retirement after 42 years in higher education to become Eastern Kentucky Univeristy’s interim president from July to September 2001 until a permanent president was found.
According to McFaddin, Hughes brought to EKU not only a fresh face with new ideas but also an impressive resume. He was president of Northern Arizona University (1979-1993) and Wichita State University (1993-1999) before retiring as president emeritus, both of which faced the same kind of budget cutbacks that Eastern was facing.
His daughter Lisa Hughes Zyriek wrote, “My dad thoroughly enjoyed his time at EKU. He prioritized offering opportunities for first-time students from Appalachia.” He was honored at EKU's 2011 commencement by receiving an honorary doctorate of laws and was commissioned an Honorary Kentucky Colonel in 2010.
The family will have a small service this week in Flagstaff, Ariz., and a larger celebration of life in a couple months, when it is safe to do so.
Hughes was 86 years old.
Please join McFaddin in sending our thoughts, prayers, and condolences to the Hughes family.