UPDATE: As expected, native son McFaddin confirmed as EKU’s 14th president

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UPDATE 7 P.M. AUG. 20, 2020

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ/EKU Public Affairs) Dr. David McFaddin is Eastern Kentucky University’s 14th president after a special meeting Thursday of the Board of Regents.

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The board voted unanimously to remove the interim from his title and will work out a contract with the president before December. McFaddin is currently paid $300,000 per year.

The decision confirmed the Aug. 10 recommendation of the EKU search committee.

“Today is truly the culmination of everything that is good about this institution. My job is to serve. Yes, I’m expected to lead. Yes, I’m expected to be accountable, but more importantly, I’m here to support and provide for our students, for our faculty, staff and for every one of my cabinet members. I have the most amazing group of people who are dedicated to this institution in a way that I wouldn’t want to serve with anyone else,” McFaddin said.

“I think you will see the best of us will come next. The best for this institution is ahead of us and EKU is in good hands because they are absolutely amazing people who will fight day and night to make sure that opportunity is not just here today, but for generations to come.”

McFaddin was hired on an interim basis in December after Eastern’s 13th president, Dr. Michael T. Benson, stepped down from his post. He becomes the third Eastern graduate to ascend to the presidency, after Dr. Doug Whitlock and Dr. Robert Martin.

“When you think of the ideal leader for an institution and you measure David McFaddin up against that leader, and you try and overlap the two, you’ll find that Dr. McFaddin covers all the essentials of what you’re looking for in a leader, and then some,” said Board of Regents chair Lewis Diaz.

“He is everything that we hope our students can become. He comes to us with experience from a Fortune 10 company and has the expertise and experience in higher education to lead EKU in an increasingly competitive market place. Just looking at the total package, it is clear to me that Dr. McFaddin gives Eastern the best shot right now to be all that it is capable of being. He also has that ‘mountain swagger’ that is representative of our traditional service region.”

A native son of Kentucky, 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.

Before becoming president, he served as EKU’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Strategic Initiatives, Executive Director of Government Relations, and was a part-time faculty member in the Department of Communication and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.

Since 2013, McFaddin has been an active member of the President’s Council and has overseen many areas of the University. Prior to joining the University, 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.

Last week the EKU Presidential Search Committee, appointed by the board of regents to find EKU’s next president, voted unanimously to endorse McFaddin. The committee was formed in December, but its activities were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You will not get a tougher job interview than what Dr. McFaddin has been through,” said regent Nancy Collins. “He has literally been through a baptism by fire. We have seen how he has reacted and acted and the team he has put together, and the miraculous job he has done in guiding EKU through this very difficult time. Very difficult. He has my full support.”

“His success is our institution’s success and all of our people’s success. I will acknowledge our search process was significantly hampered by the current public health events that are upon us,” said presidential search committee co-chair Dr. Jason Marion.

“I know he cares immensely about this institution. Given all of the circumstances and knowing the team he has around him, I am comfortable making this decision on my end and lending the support of our faculty to making sure he can have success in this role because, as he says so eloquently, we are One Eastern.”

Since taking the interim post in December, McFaddin has addressed a series of issues that had the potential to substantially and adversely affect the University. A budget shortfall that required a keen eye on spending was quickly followed by a pandemic that forced a rapid transition to remote instruction.

“I don’t think we could have possibly been in better hands since this pandemic began than Dr. McFaddin’s. I’ve never seen someone pull together a team so quickly and so well as he has,” said regent Lynn Taylor Tye. “They always put the students first. I’m so impressed with the way he’s brought everyone together on this campus because when we get through the current  pandemic, we’re going to be better than ever and stronger than ever.”

McFaddin’s appointment is effective immediately. Discussions for a new contract will be concluded on or before the December board meeting, Diaz said.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 5 p.m. AUG. 10, 2020

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – After more than two hours of closed-door discussions, the Presidential Search Committee at Eastern Kentucky University recommended the university’s Board of Regents make Dr. David McFaddin EKU’s 14th president.

McFaddin, an EKU grad, has been serving as interim since last December and has taken the university through the difficult months of the coronavirus outbreak, closing and now reopening.

The recommendation, which must be approved at the Regents’ Sept. 10 meeting, came in the committee’s first meeting since the search was put on hold in March as the outbreak was beginning.

At the time, the 19-member committee had accepted a proposal from William Funk and Associates, one of the nation’s top search firms, but no other steps ever were taken as the committee thought potential applicants would be “consumed” with their current duties during the pandemic.

Funk’s contract expired at the end of June and he’d expressed a willingness to start anew if the committee wanted.

McFaddin’s performance in the last seven months apparently was enough to convince the committee the university needed his stability at this point to continue reopening and dealing with the virus and its impact.

The vote on McFaddin was unanimous.

“The Eastern Kentucky University Presidential Search Committee met this afternoon and discussed interim president Dr. David McFaddin, who was named to that position Dec. 12, 2019. These last few months have been a real-world, on-the-job interview process as the university has had to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping the University moving forward. The committee unanimously voted to recommend to the Board of Regents that Dr. McFaddin be named Eastern Kentucky University’s 14th president,” said committee co-chairs Dr. Bryan Makinen and Dr. Jason Marion. “We feel that he has performed extraordinarily, and possesses the visionary and strategic leadership skills that Eastern deserves in its next leader. We are confident that his working relationships with key stakeholder groups will not only provide EKU with stability at this critical moment in the University’s history, but he will also continue to advance the University alongside his existing leadership team.”

“We have an individual from our service region who loves this institution and has a passion for leading and shaping the lives of our students, faculty and staff. We would be remiss if we did not recognize the foundation that has been laid by Presidents Benson, Whitlock, and those who served before them,” they said.

The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents named McFaddin the interim president at its regular board meeting on Dec. 12. He assumed the duties Jan. 6, when Dr. Michael Benson’s resignation took effect.

“I have the utmost respect for the decisions made by the Presidential Search Committee. My goal has always been to serve the institution in the best possible way. I’m positive the recommendation made by the committee will receive careful consideration and due diligence by the Board of Regents. As this process unfolds, I will remain focused on the business of re-opening our great University to continue its tradition of being the School of Opportunity. We must ensure that our students have every opportunity to transform their lives for the better through educational attainment,” McFaddin said in a statement released Monday night by the university.

Before being named interim president, Dr. McFaddin was the senior vice president for operations and strategic initiatives at EKU where he was 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, according to an announcement at the time.

He also led 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, the announcement said.

A native of Kentucky, 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, 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.

Members of the Presidential Search Committee were:

Maribeth Berman Alumni Foundation Board
Dr. Dana Bush Faculty Faculty (Chair’s Association)
Dr. Lindsay Calderon Faculty Faculty (Senate)
Sen. Jared Carpenter Community Kentucky General Assembly (State Senate)
Dr. Marco Ciocca Faculty Faculty Senate Chair
Amy Jo Smith Gabel Alumni Alumni Board
Mendi Goble Community Richmond Chamber (Business & Industry)
Ernie House Alumni Alumni Representative
Dr. Vicki Jozefowicz Community Kentucky Community Action (Nonprofit Sector)
Dr. Bryan Makinen+ Staff Staff (BOR Secretary)
Dr. Jason Marion+ Faculty Faculty Regent
Grant Minix Student SGA/CPE Representative
Barry Poynter Staff Staff (Executive Staff)
Jill Price Staff Staff at Large
Dr. Caelin Scott Staff Staff Council President
Dennis J. Sinnett Faculty Faculty at Large (Aviation)
Grant Stepp Staff Staff (Athletics/Development/Staff Council)
Dr. Tanlee Wasson Staff Staff (Enrollment Management)
Dr. Sara Zeigler Faculty Faculty (Dean)