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Troy Ellis, ‘87, BBA in Computer Systems Information, has been named chair of the Eastern Kentucky University Foundation Board, replacing outgoing chairwoman Maribeth Berman. 

“I’m very happy to serve. I serve a University that has given me so much. I almost feel like it’s an obligation. I want to do what I can to ensure that others have the same opportunities that I was given,” said Ellis. “Whatever I can do to support scholarship and build the foundation to provide opportunities to those that may not otherwise have been able, I want to do that. And being in a leadership role allows me to even further contribute and support building the foundation that provides the scholarships. So I’m happy to do it.”

Ellis became chair effective Sept. 25, 2020. His term as chairman is renewable on an annual basis during this board term. 

Berman will continue to serve on the board, which she has been part of since 2012. “When Maribeth came to the board in 2012, everyone knew then that she would not only improve the board but she would inspire the board and she has done that and more,” said Foundation Board executive director Betina Gardner. “All who know her know that her energy is unrivaled as is her passion and commitment to her alma mater.” 

Ellis said he’s excited that Berman will continue on the board, and he’s ready to build upon the record number of scholarships and funds that have been awarded the last two years. “Maribeth (Berman) did a phenomenal job of creating a foundation board that is very healthy, and really poised to do great things. I’m a conductor more than a builder at this point because she did a great job of building,” Ellis said. “There has been a tremendous amount of growth in terms of the effectiveness and maturity of the board itself and as a result the board has been able to achieve growth in the endowment. I want to continue and grow that legacy.” 

Ellis noted that EKU’s foundation board regularly outperforms benchmark universities in performance terms. That in turn gives more students opportunities to further their education and give back to their own communities. 

“We want to continue to grow the number of students at the university. That is the primary focus. And the way you do that is through scholarships and making an easy path and road to the university and that’s what our role is. As state funding decreases, and the ability to attract students gets more challenging, the importance of the board being able to provide scholarships gets more important,” Ellis said.  

The first Black man to ever serve as chair at the University, Ellis said it’s time that EKU takes the next step toward its diversity. “I’m proud that I may have broken the diversity barrier as chair. I think it’s time. I think it represents the progression of the university that EKU wants to be, to be a university for everyone. I’m proud to be the first and have a person of color to be chair.”

“Representation is important,” said Gardner. “EKU recognizes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical for a modern university.  But we must operationalize these concepts. I hope to see more diverse leaders at EKU. As a Black man, Troy will bring a perspective as board chair that we have not yet experienced. His serving in a prominent role will be inspirational to our diverse students, demonstrate growing acceptance and diminishing discrimination (especially during times of social unrest) and make EKU a better, stronger partner in our global society.”

EKU must be represented by the student body it wants to have, Ellis said. “Diversity is a critical part of the future of the world economy, and if we want to be competitive in the world economy we have to be diverse in order to attract diverse students,” Ellis said. “If I can be an example, and I can be a person who helps lead and steward that type of transformation, it has to be a priority.”

A Second Lieutenant in the 101st Airborne Division in the United States Army for three years after graduation from EKU, Ellis spent the majority of his career with the Coca-Cola company in senior executive leadership positions, and most recently served as executive vice president of Domino’s Pizza Global Leadership Team. 

Born and raised in Louisville, he graduated from EKU in 1987 with a BBA in Computer Information Systems. He was a member of Black Student Union, Interfraternity Council, Kappa Alpha Psi and ROTC. He and his wife Michelle make their home in Nashville and have three children; two grown daughters Breana and Toree, and a son, Trey. 

The Foundation Executive Committee for the coming year includes Incoming Vice Chair Matt Evans, incoming Secretary Suzanne Fawbush, and Barry Poynter will continue as Treasurer.  Chairs of Committees include Jeri Isbell, Andrew Page, April Perry, and Rich Mattingly. Rounding out the EC roster is President David McFaddin and Director of the Foundation, Betina Gardner.