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The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents named Dr. David McFaddin the interim president of EKU after meeting in executive session at its regular board meeting on Dec. 12. Dr. McFaddin will assume the duties Jan. 6, when Dr. Michael Benson’s resignation takes effect.

Before being named interim president, Dr. McFaddin was the senior vice president for operations and strategic initiatives at EKU.

In his current role at EKU, Dr. McFaddin is responsible for programming and operations at EKU’s regional campuses, student life, EKU athletics, dual credit, conferencing and events, communications and brand management, community relations, Model Laboratory School, Student Government Association, WEKU public radio, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, regional stewardship and the Center for Workforce Development. 

He also leads EKU’s legislative and policy agenda at all government levels, championing issues that include higher education policy, research funding, public private partnerships and workforce development. He has taught master’s and undergraduate level classes in communications and ethics.

A native son of Kentucky, Dr. McFaddin holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from EKU. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky and a B.A. summa cum laude from EKU with a major in public relations. Prior to joining the University, Dr. McFaddin held regional and statewide leadership posts with AT&T, a Fortune 10 company and the largest telecommunications provider in the U.S., for nearly 15 years. His tenure there included major legislative, regulatory and strategic initiatives that paved the way for billions of dollars of capital investments in Kentucky.

“Since my appointment to the EKU Board of Regents in 2016, I have gotten to know Dr. McFaddin in a professional capacity. I believe he is the exact right choice at the right time for the University,” Board Chair Lewis Diaz said. “His keen business acumen, affinity for EKU and its service region, and extensive work with the legislature, enrollment, regional and community outreach is an effective combination of experience that will serve the students, faculty, staff and alumni well. I, the entire board and president’s cabinet are in agreement that we share total confidence in Dr. McFaddin’s ability to continue our momentum, move our initiatives forward and represent EKU with relentless Colonel pride. 

Benson said he could not “think of anyone more deserving to assume the responsibilities as interim president of EKU than David McFaddin. I have developed and maintained a close working relationship with Dr. McFaddin. He knows higher education and has had both feet in the water as a committed advocate for EKU in the community, in Frankfort and beyond.”

McFaddin said he was “honored and humbled to be named interim president As a graduate of EKU and a long-time employee, I am excited to continue my service to Eastern in an expanded capacity. I know there is no time to wait when it comes to conducting the university’s business. As a member of the President’s Council, I have a fundamental understanding of the pressing issues and priorities facing EKU. During my time here, I feel fortunate to have worked closely with Dr. Benson. He has been an unwavering mentor and friend for whom I have the utmost respect. I’m proud of the many initiatives he has accomplished during his time at Eastern.”

“I look forward to working in harmony with the board of regents, university administrators, faculty, staff and students,” McFaddin added. “Together, we will remain committed to cementing the groundwork that makes EKU the first, affordable and smart choice for anyone seeking educational opportunity.”.

In Dr. Benson’s emotional final address to the board, he presented the board with a small booklet of what has been accomplished while he helmed the university. “We talk constantly about budgets and programs and facilities and many other things. But at day’s end, we are here for students. Full stop. They are and should always remain our primary focus,” Benson said. “In conclusion, my family and I thank you for the opportunity to serve and wish you all the best in the future. Go Colonels.”

Diaz lauded Benson’s tenure, noting that the booklet Benson presented to the board summarized not only Benson’s career here, but was reflective of the goals he had set for the university when he first arrived. “Everything you said you wanted to do when you got here is in there,” Diaz said.

The board voted unanimously to name Benson President Emeritus, and he was presented a proclamation recalling his successful tenure as EKU president.

In other business, the board approved an unqualified opinion audit of several areas of the university performed by Crowe LLP for fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.

Staff Regent Dr. Bryan Makinen announced his resignation from the Board of Regents due to a conflict of interest stemming from his wife’s recent employment with the university. State law does not allow Makinen to continue as staff regent while his wife is employed by the University. A special election will be held to fill the staff regent position.

The board also approved Dr. P.G. Peeples for an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his work in the betterment of humanity.

Diaz announced a search committee co-chaired by faculty regent Dr. Jason Marion and Makinen would begin a nationwide search for EKU’s next president.