Whitlock Among Select University Presidents Selected for Events
President Whitlock was among approximately 30 presidents of public and private universities invited to attend a reception and briefing at the White House on July 9 and was one of only two current university presidents invited to participate in the Southern Growth Policies Board’s 40th Anniversary Commentary Series.
The White House event was held in connection with President Barack Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which encourages faith-based programs and services to function ecumenically on America’s campuses.
President Obama did not attend, but present were several high-ranking Administration officials and dignitaries, including Mara Vanderslice Kelly, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Eboo Patel, founder and president, Interfaith Youth Core; Wendy Spencer, CEO, Corporation for National and Community Service; Martha Kanter, undersecretary for higher education, U.S. Department of Education; Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant to the president for education policy; and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama.
The 90-minute event, co-hosted by the White House Office for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Interfaith Youth Core, included a roundtable discussion among the attendees.
This was the second time this year Whitlock has been invited along with a select group of other college or university presidents to attend a White House briefing by senior administration officials. The first was involved state representatives of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and focused on affordability.
Whitlock was selected from among Southern leaders of business, government and education to participate in the Southern Growth project.
Ted Abernathy, executive director of Southern Growth, said Whitlock was chosen because he is “an exemplar of building successful town-gown relationships. In his commentary, President Whitlock talks about the importance of serving the local community and region, while also taking a world view.”
Whitlock notes that EKU is home to students from all 120 Kentucky counties, most of the 50 states, and some 60 countries, and that the University has “significant” partnerships with institutions worldwide.
“We embrace globalization,” he wrote. “We demonstrate this through our expanding academic outreach and institutional memberships with such organizations as the International Town and Gown Association. At the same time, we have a moral, historic and public policy obligation to the 22-county region in south central and southeastern Kentucky that includes some of the most economically depressed areas of the United States.
“Our focus on regional stewardship overlaps with our emphasis on student success,” he continued. “About 35 percent of our students come to us from our service region … Many of them come to us having led fairly insular lives in terms of their contact with people from different cultures. We have a profound obligation with those students to empower them to function in a global context.”
The entire column can be read at www.southerngrowth.com/pubs/AnniversaryCommentaries/Whitlock.pdf.
EKU is a long-time member of the Southern Growth Policies Board, a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and encompassing 13 states. Formed by the region's governors in 1971, SGPB develops and advances visionary economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region's governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors. This unique public-private partnership is devoted to strengthening the South's economy and creating the highest possible quality of life.
Eastern has hosted the Board’s annual community forum each of the last five years.