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Lexington attorney Ashley Ward was appointed by Governor Andy Beshear and sworn in by University counsel Dana Fohl as the newest member of Eastern Kentucky University’s Board of Regents at a special meeting on July 26. Regent Laura Babbage, who was reappointed by Gov. Beshear, was also sworn in for a second term. Babbage, ’81, was appointed in March 2018, and reappointed in 2021. She is a member of the University’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni.  

Ward is a partner at Stites & Harbison, PLLC and is co-chairman of the firm’s torts and insurance practice group. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been named Lexington’s Appellate Lawyer of the Year several times.

Ward believes skills he’s developed through the legal profession as a problem solver will be beneficial in serving on the governing body for the University. He plans to put those skills to use as he starts his six-year term as a regent by seeking input from EKU constituents about their needs and concerns. He has an interest in exploring the University’s current and future program offerings and working to support EKU’s success in college affordability, student recruitment and retention.

“I was very impressed with everything I saw happening at Eastern,” said Ward. “I believe Kentucky’s students need access to affordable post-secondary education so they can gain employable skills, but also help widen their perspectives of the world around them.”

Ward is a native of Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (‘81) and Juris Doctorate (‘84) from the University of Kentucky. His family ties to both Richmond and EKU led to his interest in serving on the Board.  His wife, Julie West, is a native of Richmond and graduate of Model Laboratory school and her mother is an EKU graduate with a degree in Chemistry. Ashley and Julie’s son Christopher graduated from EKU in December 2019 with a degree in Computer Science and their daughter Chloe is currently enrolled at EKU working toward her principal certification, while teaching high school Social Studies in Lexington. His mother also attended EKU.

Ward and his family have enjoyed performances at EKU’s Center for the Arts and cheered on the Colonels at EKU football games. He looks forward to serving the University as a regent and working to help EKU continue to provide a quality higher education for generations to come.

Ward has previously served as a board member with the Urban League of Lexington- Fayette County and is president of his neighborhood association.

Eastern President Dr. David McFaddin told the board that the University will fully reopen in three weeks with in-person meetings, classes and events, including the University’s signature Big E Welcome week. Freshman begin to move in Aug. 11, and they will begin to pick up the first BookSmart textbook and course materials provided free to all undergraduates.

Another return to normalcy will be the Big E Welcome walk, McFaddin said. “We officially and ceremoniously usher the new freshmen class through our campus entryway at Turner Gate. I invite all of our Board of Regents, faculty, staff, and the local community to gather along Lancaster Avenue for the Welcome Walk that will take place between 4:30-5:00 p.m. on Friday, August 13,” McFaddin told the board.

McFaddin highlighted the University’s renewed efforts at providing an enhanced student-focused, on-campus experience. “Exceptional Eastern Experience” that is called “E3”.

Beginning with the Big E Welcome, E3 is a year-long lineup of campus activities, including free concerts, DJs, comedians, bonfires, festivals, athletic events, and pep rallies. E3 programming also includes:

  • Unique heritage and cultural programs.
  • Celebrations.
  • Academic enrichment opportunities that will feature national guest lecturers.

“It will be a unique experience for EKU students,” McFaddin said.

McFaddin noted a recent spike in COVID-19 cases has again sharpened focus on the health and wellbeing of students and employees at the University.

“We assure you the health and safety of both our EKU family and local community are at the forefront of every plan and operation. For example, our COVID-19 task force meets and reviews the latest guidance and information on the infection rate and delta variant from local, state, and federal health officials. We also continue to offer education and encouragement for vaccinations for all who are medically eligible, and EKU will offer vaccine clinics and testing access on campus targeted to our student population,” McFaddin said.