Dr. Doug Whitlock announced today that he will step down as Eastern Kentucky University
president, effective July 31, 2013.
Whitlock, who has served since 2007 as EKU’s 11th president, announced his retirement at the university’s annual Fall Convocation.
“At my first one of these in August 2007, I professed my love for this remarkable place,” he told the university’s faculty and staff. “Today, in my last, I am here to tell you I still love Eastern Kentucky University, and as I said in 2007, if I have helped more of you love her, too, I will be happy.”
Whitlock’s retirement comes a year before his contract was to expire in July 2014.
“This gives the Board essentially a year to conduct a search to identify my successor,” Whitlock said.
Gary Abney, chair of the EKU Board of Regents, said in a statement: “I invite the entire Eastern community in addition to our other constituents to join me and the entire EKU Board of Regents in thanking President Whitlock for his leadership and accomplishments as Eastern’s president, as well as for his considerable service to the university over the years. We all extend our deepest gratitude to Doug and (wife) Joanne and wish them the best in the coming years.”
Abney said the Board’s search process to find Whitlock’s successor will “take into consideration the interests of Eastern’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, supporters, the community and region we serve. The Board of Regents will select the best person to lead Eastern going forward.”
The Board, Abney added, will send out a request for proposals to retain a search firm “to assist us as we move through the search and selection process. All constituents of the university, including faculty, staff, students, alumni, the EKU Foundation, the external community, and the Board of Regents will have input in the EKU presidential search process.”
In his convocation remarks, Whitlock cited five reasons for his decision:
· The “march of time. There is no cure,” he said, “for the common birthday. My effective retirement will come 12 days before I turn 70.”
· Family. “I simply want to spend more time with our family, particularly our granddaughters.”
· A pending capital campaign at the university. “I know that there is no set of circumstances where I would be willing to work to the end of such an effort. Capital campaigns do not need to be going on while there is a change in presidents.”
· The start of the next biennial budget session in the Kentucky General Assembly in January 2014. “My successor will have the opportunity to participate with the Council on Postsecondary Education in development of the biennial budget request and be fully engaged with the legislative session.”
· A “realization that neither I, nor anyone else, is irreplaceable. There was never a natural stopping point for any of my predecessors, there would not be for me, and there will not be for any who come after me. The best you can do is pass a work in progress on to the next person, hopefully better than what you inherited."
Whitlock’s retirement next year will mark the end of more than 40 years of service to EKU. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Eastern in 1965 and 1966, respectively, Whitlock returned to his alma mater in 1968 to serve as director of publications. Three years later, he was named director of public information.
In 1976, he was tapped by President J.C. Powell to serve as executive assistant to the president, and he continued in that role through the administration of President Hanly Funderburk. From 1998 to 2003, he served as vice president for administrative affairs. He came out of retirement to serve as interim president in August 2007 and was named president in October 2007.
During his tenure, Eastern Kentucky University has garnered several national honors, including: designations by Forbes and U.S. News as being among America's best colleges; distinctions as a community-engaged university by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Washington (DC) Monthly magazine; recognition for two consecutive years as one of America's "Great Colleges to Work For," by the Chronicle of Higher Education; recognition four consecutive years as a veterans-friendly campus by G.I. Jobs magazine; and No. 1 and No. 2 national rankings the past two years by Military Times EDGE magazine with its "Best for Vets" honor.
Whitlock’s administration has also been marked by the opening of a New Science Building, the EKU Center for the Arts, the Noel Studio for Academic Creativity and the Center for Renewable and Alternative Fuel Technologies (CRAFT), among other projects and initiatives. The university has also acquired the historic Elmwood estate, and a new residence hall is under construction.
Also, Whitlock has been active in community affairs, including 12 years of service on the Madison County School Board.