Board of Regents Meets with Legislators during Retreat in Frankfort

photo of Board in Rotunda

The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents’ annual retreat on Tuesday, Feb. 25, took a new, but timely, twist.

For the first time, the Board held the event in Frankfort to allow its members, along with President Michael Benson and other campus leaders, to visit with members of the Kentucky General Assembly, which is in the midst of its 2014 regular session.

The day began and concluded with sessions at the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History in downtown Frankfort. Members heard a budget overview, a presentation of campus master plan improvements and capital projects, overviews from administrative units, a legislative update, and a report on Athletics. As with any Board retreat, no action was taken.

In addition to afternoon meetings with legislators, the Board along with Benson were recognized in both the House and Senate before returning to the Clark Center for a wrap-up session.

Craig Turner, chair of the EKU Board of Regents, said at the morning session that the retreat was designed to apprise the Board on various campus initiatives and ensure that legislators hear first-hand about projects important to the University.

“We’re trying to prepare ourselves to meet the future,” he said. “It’s extremely important to be able to grow the University in a number of ways.”

A luncheon session at the Clark Center featured remarks from State Rep. Rita Smart, Richmond, who represents a part of Madison County, and State Rep. Arnold Simpson, Covington, chair of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education.

Smart, an EKU alum, urged the Regents, as they chart the University’s course, to “plan for the magnificent.”

Simpson, noting that he doesn’t get many opportunities to interact with University regents, said: “Boards are vital to the success we all desire. It’s important for you to reach out to your legislators.”

Benson thanked the legislators for their “attention to the larger macro issues (and) for how they pertain to our campus.”

After the luncheon, the EKU contingent trekked to the Capitol and Annex to visit with and hear from several legislators, many Eastern alumni. The Eastern graduates included State Sen. Jared Carpenter, Berea; and State Reps. Mike Harmon, Danville; Jeff Greer, Brandenburg; Kim King, Harrodsburg; and Jonathan Shell, Lancaster. Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, Georgetown, not an EKU alum, also addressed the group.

Several lawmakers commented on the renewed sense of excitement surrounding EKU. Shell congratulated the Board for hiring Benson, adding, “A lot of presidents talk about being community partners, but President Benson puts those words into motion.” The two were together in Rockcastle County for a recent announcement about a partnership between the University and City of Livingston.

“Thank you for putting our University back on track to be the best in the state,” Shell said.

The EKU group also met with Speaker of the House Greg Stumbo, Prestonsburg, and Majority Leader of the House Rocky Adkins, Sandy Hook, among others.

When Carpenter introduced Benson and the Regents on the Senate floor, he said the Board “has a passion for education and for EKU,” adding that Benson “has done a great job as an ambassador for EKU.”

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Board is Monday, April 14.

Published on February 26, 2014

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