Within the past two years, several Kentucky colleges have named new presidents, whose experience and vision will shape the future of higher education in Kentucky
As freshmen settle in at colleges throughout the state, they are not the only ones meeting new people and tackling new challenges. At the University of Kentucky, two comprehensive public universities, three private colleges, and nine community and technical colleges, new presidents are having many of the same experiences. In the February 2002 issue of Kentucky Living, we talked with Dr. Lee Todd, president of the University of Kentucky. This month, we spoke with four more new presidents about their jobs and the dreams and plans they bring with them.
Many people think of a university president's job as similar to a corporate CEO, according to Eastern Kentucky University's President Joanne Glasser, but she says the job is much more like being the mayor of an educational city.
"I am constantly building support through ideas and teamwork, not coercion," Glasser says. "The president's primary job is to enhance the ability of faculty and staff to do their jobs. Working with people, both on and off campus, is the real essence of the job--working with students, faculty, staff, alumni, community representatives, the legislature, other higher education professionals, the board, potential donors, prospective students, and their parents. There is a myriad of diverse constituencies the president interacts with on any given day. It is truly a 24/7 job today."
And that kind of role is a perfect fit for a "born people person" such as Glasser.
"I love working with people, particularly students," she says. "I love their passion for life and learning. I tell them with frequency that they excite me, challenge me, invigorate me, and sometimes even frustrate me."
Ensuring access to higher education
King Alexander, president of Murray State University, also enjoys interacting with students. In fact, he can be found each week playing hoops with students and eating with them in the dining hall, but his work in financial arenas may be where he scores the most three-pointers. The banker-turned-university president is working to make sure that all Kentuckians have access to affordable higher education and that MSU remains on the Lumina Foundation's list as one of the five most affordable universities in the nation.
"Few people understand the significant economic consequences of sentencing young people to substantial student loan debt for 10-15 years," he says. "This generation is far more in debt. When they are overextended on student loans, they can't be first-time homeowners until 10 years later than their parents. Nobody is accounting much for a generation of students that are renters, not buyers."
Alexander says that Kentucky is in a particularly precarious situation.
"Kentucky has an economic crisis in its midst based on demographic trends," he says. "Nationally, we're expecting a 12 percent growth in the group of people just out of high school. This is the first significant growth in three decades. Kentucky, however, is expecting a 5 percent decline. States around us such as Tennessee and Illinois are expecting 17 and 27 percent increases respectively. We have to figure out how to bring kids in from other states and incentives that keep them in the state after they graduate. The greatest economic benefits for all our citizens will come when we are able to keep the students we invest in and are also able to bring in students that other states have invested in.
"Kentucky has a long history of supporting colleges and universities in a manner that keeps tuition low so that families and students aren't shouldered with most of the burden," Alexander says. "For every tax dollar spent on education, we see a 12 percent return. These are investments in the economic future of Kentucky."
Serving non-traditional students
William B. Drake Jr., president of Midway College, agrees with Alexander, saying there is "extraordinary competition for students." This has created a need for integrated marketing strategies at universities that the ordained minister of the Christian Church and certified financial planner didn't envision when he entered higher education.
Drake says he also didn't envision another important change in higher education--delivering education to adults past the traditional college ages of 18-22.
At Midway, more than one-half of the students are over age 24, a trend Drake believes will continue.
"We not only have a specific mission as Kentucky's only college for women, but we are just as strong a proponent of serving the 80 percent of Kentuckians who do not have a college degree," Drake says. "We know that education level is the surest indicator of economic well-being for a family. If we can help more Kentuckians get a college degree, we know we can help children."
To do this, Midway has established five centers to serve working adults, offers accelerated degree programs, including Kentucky's only accelerated degree program in teacher education, as well as degree programs that can be completed during evenings and weekends.
Interacting with students
Many other aspects of college life have changed as well. Students use Web sites to learn about schools and electronic communications to take some courses and e-mail assignments to professors.
But the heart of the college experience has changed little, according to E. Joseph Lee II, president of Thomas More College. With 33 years of experience in higher education, Lee should know.
"What I remember most about my own undergraduate days is the joy of talking with faculty members outside of class and getting to know them," Lee recalls. "You looked to them as role models and people you respected. They were interested in you as a person.
"At schools our size, we are still able to do that. There are courses and homework that can be submitted over the Web, but faculty and students still meet daily in the classroom. This interaction between students and faculty is what college is all about."
E. Joseph Lee II
President, Thomas More College
Named June 2, 2001
Doctor of Philosophy degree from Boston College, 1981
Master of Science in Education from St. Michael's College, 1971
Bachelor of Arts from St. Michael's College, 1966
Vice President for Student Life, Manhattan College, Riverdale, New York,
Vice President for Student Services, Merrimack College, 1983-1990
Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid, Merrimack College, 1976-1983
Acting Director of Admissions, Framingham State College, 1974-1976
Director of Career Counseling/ Placement, Framingham State College,
Assistant Director of Admissions, Assumption College, 1970-1971
President, Eastern Kentucky University
Named October 29, 2001
J.D. degree from the University of Maryland School of Law, 1976
B.A. in political science from George Washington University, 1973
Executive Vice President, Towson University, 1999-2001
Executive Assistant & Affirmative Action Officer, Towson University, 1995-1999
Labor Commissioner, Baltimore County, 1980-86
Assistant County Attorney, Baltimore County Attorney's Office, 1978-1980
Bailiff and law clerk, Baltimore City Circuit Court, 1976-78
Law clerk, Maryland Department of Transportation, 1975
Law clerk, Baltimore Legal Aid, 1974
F. King Alexander
President, Murray State University
Named November 1, 2001
Doctor of Philosophy in higher education administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1996
M.S. in comparative education policy from the University of Oxford, 1991
B.A. in political science from St. Lawrence University, 1987
Director/program coordinator of the Higher Education Program in the Department of Educational Organization and Leadership and Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997-2001
Faculty member in the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA), 2000-2002, and faculty affiliate, 1997-2000, at the University of Illinois
Postdoctoral research associate in the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, and Lecturer in the Department of Educational Administration, 1996-1997, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Director of annual programs in the Office of University Advancement and External Relations at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1991-1992
External Programs Coordinator at the Office of University Advancement and External Relations, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, 1990-1991
Relief Manager Branch at Liberty National Bank in Louisville, 1987-1989
William B. Drake Jr.
President, Midway College
Named March 2002
Doctor of Ministry degree from Lexington Theological Seminary, 1987
Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary, 1981
A.B. degree in biology from Transylvania University, 1978
Vice President of College Relations, Midway College, 1998-2002
Executive Assistant to the President, Midway College, 1997-1998
Minister of the Bethany Christian Church in Nicholasville, 1978-1981
Vice President, Christian Church Foundation, 1993-1997
Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of Financial Aid at the Lexington Theological Seminary, 1984-1992
Assistant to the Dean at Lexington Theological Seminary, 1984-1985
Minister of the Cottondale Christian Church in Cottondale, AL, 1981-1984
New Presidents of Community & Tech Colleges
In addition to the comprehensive universities, there are nine new presidents of community and technical colleges throughout the state. Congratulations and welcome to the following new presidents and CEOs of their respective districts.
Gregory D. Adkins
CEO of the Ashland District and president of Ashland Community College
George E. Edwards
CEO of the Big Sandy District and president of Prestonsburg Community College
Bonnie L. Rogers
CEO of the Hopkinsville District and president of Hopkinsville Community College
Anthony L. Newberry
CEO of the Jefferson District and president of Jefferson Community College
CEO of the Hazard District and president of Hazard Community College
CEO of the Maysville District and president of Maysville Community College
E. Edward Hughes
CEO of the Northern Kentucky District and president of Northern Kentucky Community College
Jo G. Marshall
CEO of the Somerset District and president of Somerset Community College
CEO of the West Kentucky District and president of Paducah Community College