Campbellsville University appoints Spears as 11th president
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/CU Public Relations) – Dr. H. Keith Spears, interim president at Campbellsville University since January 1, 2021, has been appointed the university’s 11th president for the university.
Spears is president for an abbreviated period until Dr. Joseph “Joe” Hopkins, dean of the School of Arts at Samford University, becomes the 12th president in the 115 years of Campbellsville University effective Feb. 1, 2022.
“We are pleased that we have a seasoned leader like Dr. Spears to take on the presidential duties for the university for more than a year,” said Henry Lee, chair for the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees. “He has been the right person for this critical time for the university and will continue to lead us toward the transition into the next presidency.”
Spears has served Campbellsville University since 2009. His leadership roles have changed over the years leading up to his extensive work with the president’s office.
“This announcement was a surprise and humbling,” said Spears. “I took the interim position to lead during this transition, but, it is certainly rewarding to be recognized by the Board of Trustees in this manner.”
Spears has recently led the President’s Cabinet, comprised of the vice presidents and other influential leaders of the university.
“This has been an eventful year. This distinction must be shared with our members of the President’s Office and Cabinet. They in total continue to help me guide the university, seamlessly and have my greatest appreciation,” Spears said.
“Keith Spears has been an excellent interim president, and we are so pleased to see this board action. It acknowledges his strength and dedication to Campbellsville University in a time that has challenged higher education and Campbellsville University in particular,” Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.
After developing the Louisville Education Center and other regional centers, Spears served as vice president for communication and assistant to the president at Campbellsville University from 2016 until the summer of 2019 when he was named senior vice president.
Dr. Benji Kelly, vice president for development, said, “Dr. Spears’ experience and leadership has allowed Campbellsville University to continue to be strong during this interim period. He continued the operations of this school without pause. We have continued to make strides with new ideas throughout his tenure as our leader.
“Dr. Spears is a collaborative leader who has remained mission-focused,” Tim Judd, vice president for finance, said. “His concentration on the financial stability of CU has remained strong as we move toward a new administration.”
Spears has brought entrepreneurial ideas to the university with the creation and expansion of online programs and offices in India and China and with preliminary results for new academic opportunities in Europe, Africa and Central America.
The university was recently approved by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada for yet another new center in Windsor, Ontario, a Spears’ initiative.
“President Spears has kept his mind on us,” said Ariana (Ri) Meador, a sophomore from Chaplin, Ky. “From student promotions to gatherings, we could always count on Dr. Spears to be ready to participate.”
Prior to coming to Campbellsville University, Spears was a member of West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin’s staff in Education and the Arts. Before that appointment he was at Marshall University for 28 years, leaving that institution as vice president for advancement.
He and his wife, Rita Kay Spears, former adult student advisor at Marshall University, have two children: Eric Keith Spears, Ph.D., professor and Eminent Scholar and chair of International Education at Columbus State University in Georgia; and Honorable Jason M. Spears, J.D., family court judge in Cabell County, W.Va. They have three grandchildren: Clara and Lucas in Georgia and Amelia in West Virginia.