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Eastern Kentucky University’s president and its board of regents chair said the University is working toward a much more normalized fall experience, and has plans for an in-person commencement exercise in the spring, the first since 2019, at its regular quarterly board meeting on March 4.  

The graduation ceremony is a rite of passage that everyone on this board has experienced, and it is the right thing for our students. They have worked hard and endured much – they deserve that same experience and recognition that each of us received when we completed our degree,” Board of Regents Chair Lewis Diaz said. “President (Dr. David) McFaddin and our administrative team continue to work with the Governor’s office and health care professionals to ensure that we proceed in a manner that is consistent with the required safety protocols.”  

EKU President Dr. David McFaddin announced in his remarks the University would be putting together a plan to send aid to hard-hit communities in the service region affected by the adverse weather of the last three weeks. “Let’s remember the thousands of people in our service region that are suffering from weather catastrophes the likes of which have not been seen in this area in decades or longer,” McFaddin said. “I’m sure many of you have seen the photos and the video of the devastation in our own county and neighboring counties to the southeast. We had a crippling ice storm, then catastrophic flooding all within a very short period of time.” 

McFaddin also remarked on his vision for a return to normalcy by fall, 2021.” We are eager and working diligently everyday to ensure that an exceptional Eastern experience will be what greets students in the days ahead. Every area of campus is focused on this goal and there is an unwavering commitment to delivering on that promise,” McFaddin said. 

The board officially finalized the institution’s move to the ASUN Conference beginning July 1, 2021 by a unanimous vote today during the meeting. 

The move was announced Jan. 29 during a virtual news conference, but was officially sanctioned by the board today. Eastern Kentucky University and all 16 of its athletics teams will join the ASUN Conference on July 1, 2021, vice president and Director of Athletics Matt Roan announced at the news conference. All EKU teams will be immediately eligible for conference awards, postseason play and NCAA Tournament automatic bids. In a later announcement, a partnership between the ASUN and the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for a one-season football agreement will give the ASUN an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. 

“We have seen a 41 percent increase in total gifts to the Colonel Club this year and a 58.7 percent increase in total gift giving, which includes specific sports giving. We are very encouraged by those numbers,” Roan said. “I think there is a correlation with us moving to the ASUN. We are very encouraged with the direction we’re going there, but have just scratched the surface of what we’re capable of.”

The University announced it would be accepting donations of bottled water, non-perishable food items, cleaning supplies, detergent, trash bags, buckets, brooms, mops and other cleaning supplies. 

McFaddin also announced that EKU would be distributing an additional $5.2 million in relief funding  to students in need of basic living necessities.through the new CRRSAA Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF II)  This matches the $5.2 million previously allocated  to EKU  under the  CARES Act.

The Eastern Kentucky University Innovation Fund announced award recipients for the very popular funding program. The $250,000 Board of Regents Innovation Fund that was established at the June 2018 meeting rewards innovative and entrepreneurial ideas from faculty and staff that address a problem or opportunity, offer a solution, and demonstrate an ability to generate a return of this Board’s investment in its people.

Three awards were approved by the board, after a presentation from Dr. Tom Martin, associate vice president for research, Executive Director of the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship & Technology (CEDET) and assistant professor of management in the College of Business & Technology. 

Dr. Stephen Richter, professor and EKU’s Director of Natural Areas, Kelly Smith, EKU Libraries Coordinator of Collections and Discovery, and Dr. Joseph Carucci, associate professor and director of the EKU School of Music, were all awarded innovation funds for their proposals. Richter was awarded $40,000 for a construction project that will establish an outdoor learning pavilion with trails connecting EKU’s main campus to EKU’s Taylor Fork Natural Area (just south of campus) to enhance recruiting and retention of students. 

Kelly Smith was awarded $50,000, to continue developing Open Educational Resources (OERs) to provide an effective alternative option to high-priced traditional textbooks. Ten faculty members are participating in a Professional Learning Community to develop courses that incorporate OERs and subscribed library resources in place of traditional textbooks.  The program could save students as much as $350,000 per year. 

Dr. Joe Carucci was awarded $25,000 for the EKU School of Music to expand the Foster Music Camp and include a week-long Foster Virtual Commercial Music Camp that will add to the successful Foster Music Camp tradition, now in its 86th year. 

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 17.