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RICHMOND, Ky. — By a 9-1 vote, the Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents approved the transfer of the historic White Hall property in northern Madison County from the Commonwealth of Kentucky to the university at its meeting on Feb. 22.

“What we fully intend to do upon the execution of the transfer is to engage stakeholders in a conversation about usage of the facility. We want to utilize this asset to the best of our abilities and make sure it’s preserved moving forward,” said Board of Regents Chair Lewis Diaz.

The university accepted the transfer of the historic home of 19th century emancipationist Cassius Marcellus Clay for a number of reasons, including the opportunity to use it as a real-world teaching tool for the Department of Recreation and Park Administration (RPA). Students will now have a chance to get hands-on experience curating a historic property, and the home will provide opportunities to the university it hasn’t had before.

In a letter to the board and the chair, the entire Department of Recreation and Park Administration welcomed the potential acquisition.

“We are excited about the potential for White Hall State Historic Site to further enrich our curriculum and provide opportunities for innovative programming and service,” the letter, signed by department chair Dr. Jon McChesney and all other faculty, read, “Service learning is a hallmark of RPA; we have averaged delivering 29 service learning projects the past four years. Our current curriculum directly connects with the operation of White Hall.”

The White Hall property consists of a 14 acre lot with a 10,000 square foot mansion that has been completely restored and updated with modern conveniences such as central heat/air and indoor plumbing. The acquisition of the White Hall property will provide the university with a beautiful outdoor event venue creating opportunities for community engagement.

The state would pay the university $50,000 per year for two years to ensure there is no cost to the university as it takes ownership of White Hall, creates programs, revenue-generating opportunities and other plans for the venue to sustain its costs. Under the transfer proposal, the home will remain a tourist destination and be open to the public.

In other business:

  • The board voted unanimously to approve five projects from the EKU Innovation Fund totaling $208,000. The Innovation Fund, established by the Board of Regents at its June 2018 meeting, was tasked with identifying up to five innovative and entrepreneurial solutions from faculty members that address a significant problem and demonstrate an ability to generate a return on investment. Details of the projects and the award recipients can be found here.
  • The newest member of the EKU Board of Regents, Lynn Taylor Tye, was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Laurance VanMeter. Tye is a 1977 graduate of EKU with a BBS in Accounting. She owns an insurance company in Danville, Ky.
  • Model Laboratory School tuition amount was approved for the 2019-2020 school year with no increases over the previous year. The tuition recommendation for Model Laboratory School for 2019-20 is as follows: Kindergarten: $3,612 (0% increase over prior year.) Grades 1 – 8: $3,393 (0% increase over prior year.) Grades 9 – 12: $3,415 (0% increase over prior year.)
  • Outgoing board chair William Craig Turner was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the Board of Regents. Turner served as the board chair the last 12 years.

The freshman retention rate for the Fall 2018-Spring 2019 school year is more than 80 percent, coming in at 87 percent at mid-year. The goal set by the Council on Postsecondary Education is 75 percent. EKU has hovered just above 70 percent to as high as 74.4 percent over the last six years.