President Contributes Commentary to Southern Growth Policies Board Series

photo of Whitlock

­Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock was one of only two current university presidents invited to participate in the Southern Growth Policies Board’s 40th Anniversary Commentary Series.

Whitlock was selected from among Southern leaders of business, government and education.

Ted Abernathy, executive director of Southern Growth, said Whitlock was chosen because he is “an exemplar of building successful town-gown relationships. In his commentary, Whitlock talks about the importance of serving the local community and region, while also taking a world view.”

Whitlock notes that EKU is home to students from all 120 Kentucky counties, most of the 50 states, and some 60 countries, and that the University has “significant” partnerships with institutions worldwide.

“We embrace globalization,” he wrote. “We demonstrate this through our expanding academic outreach and institutional memberships with such organizations as the International Town and Gown Association. At the same time, we have a moral, historic and public policy obligation to the 22-county region in south central and southeastern Kentucky that includes some of the most economically depressed areas of the United States.

“Our focus on regional stewardship overlaps with our emphasis on student success,” he continued. “About 35 percent of our students come to us from our service region … Many of them come to us having led fairly insular lives in terms of their contact with people from different cultures. We have a profound obligation with those students to empower them to function in a global context.”

The entire column can be read at

In addition to his active involvement with the Southern Growth Policies Board, Whitlock was a long-time member of the Madison County Schools Board of Education (1999-2011) and has served on the Richmond Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Commerce Lexington’s Central Kentucky Public Policy Council, and the Bluegrass Tomorrow Board of Directors. Also, he has been actively involved with the International Town and Gown Association (EKU hosted the recent ITGA annual conference) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

EKU is a long-time member of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and encompassing 13 states. Formed by the region's governors in 1971, SGPB develops and advances visionary economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region's governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors. This unique public-private partnership is devoted to strengthening the South's economy and creating the highest possible quality of life.

Eastern has hosted the Board’s annual community forum each of the last five years.

Published on July 11, 2012

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