Colonels at the Capitol Event Big Hit with Lawmakers

Colonels at Capitol photo

Eastern Kentucky University continued to show its commitment to engaging in the legislative process by hosting another Colonels at the Capitol Day recently in Frankfort.

For the second consecutive year, EKU not only brought the members of its Board of Regents, but also extended the event invitation to the President’s Council and the President’s Leaders in Action Academy.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our campus leaders to interact with our state leaders,” said EKU President Michael Benson. “We were also able to express our gratitude for their help in obtaining key resources to further enhance our University.”

 Senate President Robert Stivers said: “We are witnessing how quickly technology is advancing and how important it is for our higher education institutions to remain on the cutting edge for our students. We worked very hard to ensure funding for your University to complete the next phase of your New Science Building and to help further advance your unique aviation program.”

Universities in Kentucky, much like institutions across the rest of the nation, are increasingly concerned about the shrinking of state appropriations to higher education, and many legislators who met with the EKU contingent addressed that very issue.

“Although we are slowly climbing out of the recession of 2007, Kentucky is continuing to struggle due to the large amount of debt that we are under,” said House Speaker Greg Stumbo. “We are going to have to find new and diverse revenue streams that can be strategically directed to increase funding for higher education.”

After further discussing the importance of funding higher education, House Minority Leader Jeff Hoover spoke to the students in the room, explaining the importance of expressing their voices to the legislature.

“It is your responsibility to make your voices heard,” said Hoover. “You must do your part to be an active member of this community and help shape the future of Kentucky.”

State Rep. Jonathan Shell, an EKU alum, spoke to the campus leaders about his experience attending the University.

“I am a great advocate and supporter of Eastern, especially after the experience that I had at the institution,” said Shell. “The skills that you learn at Eastern are completely relatable to what is required of you in real life.”

There were many themes present throughout the afternoon. Many legislators spoke very highly of the level of education that EKU offers its students. The legislators also spoke about how proud they are of the new leadership, guided by President Benson, which has given a sense of renewal and excitement to the University that is now visible at the Capitol.

 “You can feel the energy that the president has brought to the campus,” said State Rep. Rita Smart. “When I was first elected, people would say, ‘Where is EKU?’ and now they say, ‘We see EKU every day.’”

State Sen. Jared Carpenter expressed his gratitude to the campus leaders who attended the event.

“It is vitally important that everyone who is a part of the EKU family help advocate for our University,” said Carpenter. “I truly appreciate your willingness to continue to come to the Capitol and help me represent EKU.”

State Rep. Arnold Simpson also thanked those in attendance.

“I want to commend you for showing your passion and dedication to higher education by taking the time to come to the Capitol to engage with your legislators,” said Simpson. “In my 20 years as a legislator, EKU is the only university that I have seen bring an entire Board of Regents to Frankfort to support their university.”

Said Benson: “We want our legislators to know that we aren’t going anywhere. We are committed to continually advocating an increase in higher education opportunities for our region and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Published on March 02, 2015

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