EKU Update HomeA Newsletter for Eastern Kentucky University Faculty & Staff
Volume 16 • Number 18
July 10, 2015
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In this issue:

• Benson Shares Vision for University at Public Forum
• EKU Herbarium to Bear Name of Retiring Professor
• President Emeritus Whitlock Inducted into OVC Hall of Fame
• Dr. Victor Kappeler New Dean of College of Justice & Safety
• EKU Selects Edwin Thompson as New Head Baseball Coach
• Professor Shares Educational Advice, Life Experiences in New Book
• Faculty Member Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from KAEE
• Wasson Named AVP for Institutional Effectiveness and Institutional Research
• Newton’s New Role Focused on Athletics Annual Fund and Colonel Club
• Mooers Joins East Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board
• EKU Directors Certified as Master Environmental Educators
• Board of Regents Approves University’s Strategic Plan, 2015-16 Budget
• Model Laboratory High School Ranked 3rd in Kentucky
• Lt. Gov. “Crit” Luallen Urges EKU Grads to Help Build “A New Kentucky”
• EKU Exceeds National Benchmarks in Student Engagement Measures
• Regional Stewardship Center Funds Five Community-Based Projects
• EKU Contingent Cleans Litter along Gateway to Campus
• Twenty Named Critical Thinking Teachers of the Year at EKU
• EKU Claims 2014-15 OVC Commissioner’s Cup
• EKU Adult Education Graduates Recognized
• Upgrades Enhance “Wow Factor” at Hummel Planetarium
• EKU Center for the Arts to Host Gubernatorial Debate
• President Benson Presides at Makeshift Graduation Ceremony for One Student
•  “You’ll Love What You See” at EKU Center for the Arts in 2015-16
• Retirees Honored
• Employees Recognized for Years of Service

“A fulcrum moment.”

“A unique opportunity.”

“A window of time.”

Whatever term you choose to use – and President Benson used them all as he shared his ambitious vision at a public forum on Tuesday, June 30 – it is clear that EKU is the midst of a radical transformation not seen since the Robert R. Martin administration of 1960-76.

More than 120 members of the public and campus community packed the EKU Center for the Arts stage for Town and Gown: Vision 2020 Forum. The event included a multimedia presentation by Benson detailing campus revitalization projects and plans as well as a discussion between University and local officials about partnership opportunities. Audience members also had the opportunity ask questions and make comments.

Entering the third year of his presidency, Benson sprinkled his remarks with references to historical figures such as President Harry Truman; Truman’s Secretary of State, Dean Acheson; Winston Churchill; famed architect Daniel Burnham; and a relatively obscure Kentucky governor, William J. Fields. He also said he was the beneficiary of “some very great leaders” who preceded him as Eastern president, adding, “I pay homage to them.

“To every man comes that special moment,” said Benson, quoting Churchill. “I believe I am here with my colleagues and all of you at a really unique moment in history. It falls to us to take advantage of this moment.”

The Commonwealth of Kentucky had such a moment during the Fields administration in the 1920s, Benson recounted, but squandered the chance to make critical investments in education and infrastructure when it rejected a bond issue sought by the governor, resulting in decades of stagnation.

Bonds will play an important role in financing many of the EKU revitalization projects, too, as will public-private partnerships, private support and University funds. Also, the University’s Student Government Association stepped forward to approve a fee to support two student-centric facilities: a new recreation center and a renovated student union. Students will have input into the design of those two facilities, both cornerstones of a new Center for Student Life.

Those projects and others are aimed at helping the University recruit, retain and graduate students.

Benson discussed numerous other revitalization projects, both ongoing and planned, showing the audience photos and renderings of many. They include:

  • phase 2 of the New Science Building, under construction and expected to open by late 2017. When merged with Phase 1, the 340,000-square-foot facility will be the largest of its type in the Commonwealth.
  • the planned new Model Laboratory School/College of Education complex, to be constructed at the corner of Lancaster Avenue and the Eastern By-Pass.
  • three new, suite-style residence halls to replace three halls dating to the 1960s: Martin, Dupree and Todd. Martin may be razed as soon as Spring 2016, with the replacement of Dupree and Todd coming at a later time to be determined and with input from the Greek community that now occupies those two halls. University officials have said that, during the replacement process, every effort will be made to minimize the impact on all affected students.
  • a wellness center/indoor practice facility.
  • a new, multi-purpose facility to replace the east side grandstands at Roy Kidd Stadium, to be completed by Fall 2016. The stands have already been dismantled and removed.
  • a new alumni and welcome center.
  • a reading porch on the south side of John Grant Crabbe Main Library, to be completed this summer, overlooking a new pedestrian mall in a formerly lackluster industrial space.
  • new playing facilities for the baseball and softball teams.
  • a new pedestrian gateway and the Carloftis Gardens, both near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road.
  • improvements to the newly revamped University Club at Arlington.
  • new signage throughout campus.

Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas and Company, an architecture and planning firm that has worked with more than 145 colleges and universities nationwide, is assisting EKU with its master plan. Open forums will be scheduled in the fall to solicit campus input. “This is all very fluid,” Benson said.

After listening to Benson’s presentation, Richmond Mayor Jim Barnes said: “It behooves the city, county and everybody to get on board. As the University grows, so do we. This vision is awesome.”

As the discussion turned to possible partnerships between the University and local government, Benson said: “All options are on the table. We’re looking for all opportunities to push the University and community forward.”

Benson noted that in dedicating his memoir to Truman, Acheson cited what he considered the greatest attribute of America’s 33rd president when he said, “He was completely devoid of the most enfeebling of human emotion: regret.”

Added Benson: “I don’t want us to look back here at Eastern at what might have been.”

To view the entire forum, visit ow.ly/P3rbG.

(Sarah Bucknam/C&M)<br><i>From left, President Benson, Provost Janna Vice, Dr. Ron Jones, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. John Wade were on hand for the plaque presentation.<i>
(Sarah Bucknam/C&M)
From left, President Benson, Provost Janna Vice, Dr. Ron Jones, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. John Wade were on hand for the plaque presentation.
His persistent efforts as its long-time curator made the EKU Herbarium one of the largest and most diverse in the region.

His groundbreaking book, “Plant Life of Kentucky,” earned raves nationally and will serve botanists and the public for years to come.

And now the name of Dr. Ronald L. Jones will grace the EKU Herbarium. Shortly after the University’s Board of Regents approved naming the facility for the long-time biology professor, colleagues past and present as well as family members were on hand for a plaque presentation at Jones’ retirement ceremony.

Founded in 1974, EKU’s herbarium had an unofficial collection of a few thousand specimens when Jones began to serve as its curator upon his arrival at EKU in 1981. With approximately 80,000 specimens today, it is the largest in Kentucky and second only to the University of Tennessee herbarium in the two-state region.

Dr. Eugene Wofford, of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee, said he considers Jones “the foremost botanist in Kentucky” and his arrival at EKU as “the beginning of a new era in Kentucky botany.”

Dr. Ross Clark, professor emeritus and former chair of EKU’s Department of Biological Sciences, said the University’s herbarium is equally impressive for its breadth. The facility houses important sets of specimens from a number of natural areas across Kentucky, including EKU-owned Lilley Cornett Woods and Maywoods Environmental and Educational Laboratory, as well as Blanton Forest, Breaks Interstate Park, Cumberland Plateau wetlands, Floracliff, the Green River headwater regions, Pine Mountain, and Rock Creek Research Natural Area.

“A herbarium’s value is related to not only its size but in large measure to its diversity,” Clark said. “The evolution of the EKU herbarium from insignificance to regional prominence has been due mostly to Ron’s efforts. He literally has built the EKU herbarium (and) added great value to students’ development, to the biology department and EKU’s profile as an institution.”

Jones’ “Plant Life of Kentucky,” published in 2006, was the first volume of its kind in the Bluegrass State. It was nominated as a Significant Work in Botanical or Horticultural Literature by the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries.

In 2013, Jones and Wofford co-authored “Woody Plants of Kentucky and Tennessee,” the first such work to encompass the two states.

Jones was also the “driving force,” said Clark, behind the establishment and growth of the Kentucky Native Plant Society, an organization that unites professionals, amateurs and the public in learning, appreciating and protecting Kentucky’s native plants.

“The ‘Plant Life’ book and the Society are two examples of how, when Ron perceived a need for something positive that no one else was doing, he went ahead and quietly without fanfare did it.”

Jones was named an EKU Foundation Professor, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, service and research, in 2006. He was recently selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and will conduct a six-month study in 2016 of woody plants in the Siempre Verde Cloud Forest Reserve about 4 ½ hours north of Quito, Ecuador.

Currently located in Room 170 of the Memorial Science Building, the Ronald L. Jones Herbarium will move to a much larger and more modern space in EKU’s New Science Building, when Phase 2 of that facility opens in late 2017.

Jones said he and other curators have been heavily involved in the planning of the new facility and animal museum facilities in the New Science Building.

“We worked closely with the architects, and plan to have a multi-room state-of-the-art facility, with plenty of space for the processing, storing, databasing, and imaging of our specimens, and also space for students and faculty to study, as well as space for visiting researchers and consultants,” Jones said. “We plan for our facility to be more museum-like, by providing tours, displays, and outreach programs for the public and for local schools. Through our imaging project, now headed by Dr. Brad Ruhfel, who is taking over for me as curator, and funded by a National Science Foundation grant, we will have images of all our specimens online, linked to our database and accessible to a variety of potential users, including researchers, graduate and undergrad students, consultants, high school and middle school teachers and students, and others. In this way our herbarium will have much more visibility and usefulness.”

Dr. Doug Whitlock’s love affair with EKU Athletics has come full circle.

The EKU president emeritus first began following Eastern sports teams and the Ohio Valley Conference as a teen growing up in Richmond. He went on to spend most of his adult life on the Eastern campus – first as a student who earned two degrees and then throughout a distinguished administrative career that spanned parts of six decades, culminating in the EKU presidency 2007-13. To this day, he remains among the Colonels’ most avid supporters, a fixture at campus sporting events, and boasts an encyclopedic knowledge of the teams and countless student-athletes who have donned the maroon and white.

On May 29 in Nashville, Whitlock joined two others as the newest inductees in the OVC Hall of Fame.

“This recognition means a lot to me for several reasons,” Whitlock said. “First, it was completely unexpected. I also know something about how this works, so it makes me feel good the folks at EKU nominated me. And, lastly, it is humbling to know that my colleagues and friends in the other OVC member institutions voted me this high honor. Recognition by one’s peers is especially gratifying.”

The OVC Hall of Fame was organized in 1977 to honor the coaches, administrators, faculty and staff who have been associated with the conference for at least five years and provided extensive and outstanding service. With the induction of this year’s class, the membership has reached 76.

Whitlock remembers listening to O.C. Halyard call Eastern games on the hometown radio station, WEKY, as early as the mid-1950s. Then he began attending games regularly when he enrolled at Eastern in 1961. Essentially, he worked his way through college reporting on athletics, doing sports information work in the office of Donald Feltner and free-lancing for both the Lexington Herald and the Louisville Courier-Journal. He also served as sports editor of The Eastern Progress 1961-63.

After more than six years as director of public information at EKU, he served 1976-97 as Executive Assistant to the President in the administrations of J.C. Powell and Hanly Funderburk. He then became vice president for administrative affairs and eventually came out of retirement to accept the EKU presidency.

“All through my Eastern career, athletics and the OVC played a central role, Whitlock noted. “Sports information was a part of the Division of Public Information when I headed that unit, and then Presidents J.C. Powell and Hanly Funderburk engaged me with the Athletics Committee and a lot of liaison work with the OVC. That continued through the Bob Kustra and Joanne Glasser administrations right until my first retirement in 2003.

Eastern didn’t have to look far to find a dean with the personal reputation to match its internationally renowned College of Justice & Safety.

Dr. Victor Kappeler, an associate dean of the College since 2012 and a widely recognized scholar whose textbooks are commonly used by universities worldwide, succeeded Dr. Allen Ault, who retired June 30 after serving 12 years in the position.

Kappeler, who earned associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees from EKU, joined his alma mater’s faculty in 1992 and has served in various capacities, including director of graduate studies and department chair, prior to being named associate dean. In 2007, he was named an EKU Foundation Professor, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, scholarship and service. Five years later, Kappeler received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Critical Criminology for his “sustained and distinguished scholarship, teaching and service in the field of critical criminology.”

In making the announcement, EKU Provost Dr. Janna Vice called Kappeler “a visionary and collaborative leader (who) will be both an advocate and an ambassador for Justice & Safety.”

Kappeler has participated in virtually every aspect of the College’s operations, from teaching and curriculum development to personnel and budgeting. He has been involved in the support and supervision of faculty and staff, the development and oversight of the Student Advising Center, the Kentucky Center for School Safety, and the three academic departments and two academic schools of the College, and worked closely with the grant and contract units.

“I have seen firsthand where Justice & Safety has been, and where it needs to go in the future,” Kappeler said. “While we have achieved a great deal in terms of building the prestige of our programs, and we have enjoyed many successes, I believe we cannot be satisfied and that much work still remains to be done to further secure academic excellence, sustainable growth, student success, and international recognition.”

The College of Justice & Safety, designated as a “Program of Distinction” by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, employs more than 60 full-time faculty and serves more than 3,000 students. It manages more than $33 million in external grants and contracts, representing more than 85 percent of grant funding secured by the University.

Kappeler said he would “pragmatically” address challenges such as the decline of state funding, changing regional demographics, a visible ceiling on tuition-based revenue and an increasingly competitive marketplace while at the same time seeking to grow enrollments, raise academic standards and expand services in a fashion that protects and creates revenue streams.

“While it has become cliché to say that higher education must ‘do more with less,’ I feel it might be more accurate to say we must do more with what we have and do more to secure what we need,” he said. “Securing resources in today’s marketplace entails sober evaluation of programs and alignment of all aspects of the College with an ethos of innovation.”

Kappeler is the author or co-author of six books, including “Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective,” “Policing in America,” “Homeland Security,” “Critical Issues in Police Civil Liability,” “The Mythology of Crime and Criminal Justice,” and “Forces of Deviance: Understanding the Dark Side of Policing.” He has also served as editor or co-editor of four other books, in addition to writing numerous book chapters, journal articles and other works.

In 2014, Kappeler was invited by the White House to participate in a policy review listening session and discuss federal programs and policies related to equipping state and local law enforcement agencies. He is frequently sought by media nationwide for his expertise on issues related to policing and criminal justice.

In addition to his three degrees from EKU, Kappeler earned a doctoral degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University.

He began his new position July 1.

Edwin Thompson, who in the last five seasons has recruited and coached 11 All-Americans and 24 players who went on to play professional baseball, has been chosen as the new head baseball coach at EKU.

Thompson spent the last three seasons at Georgia State University. He served as the pitching coach for the Panthers in 2013 and 2014 before being promoted to Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Coordinator before the 2015 season. His 2015 recruiting class is ranked by Perfect Game as one of the top-100 recruiting classes in the country.

“I am extremely excited to welcome Coach Thompson to Eastern Kentucky University and the Colonel Nation,” Director of Athletics Steve Lochmueller said. “Edwin brings great energy, character and a set of skills that will elevate our vision for EKU baseball while maintaining the NCAA model for the student-athlete experience.”

Thompson helped Georgia State to a pair of 30-win seasons in his three years on the staff. The 2013 squad won 35 games, the third most in program history. This past season, the Panthers qualified for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in just their second season in the league. GSU beat Georgia Southern in the first round.

“I want to thank Director of Athletics Steve Lochmueller and the entire search committee for this amazing opportunity to join the Eastern Kentucky University family and the Richmond community,” Thompson said. “EKU has a great standard of academic and athletic excellence along with a strong baseball tradition and I am honored to lead the baseball program. I truly respect President Benson's vision for EKU and the athletic department's commitment to fostering success; my goals for the baseball program will support both. I am looking forward to meeting our current baseball players, alumni, and supporters and sharing my excitement about the program.”

In addition, under Thompson’s guidance the 2015 team ranked in the top-25 in the nation in double plays and improved its fielding percentage by .011 percent to .965. He mentored three first team all-conference selections this past season.

In the classroom, the Panthers posted a team grade-point-average of 3.0 or above each of the last three years with Thompson serving as the program’s academic liaison. The team’s 3.18 GPA this spring semester was the highest in the last eight years. He also implemented and directed the annual Martin Luther King Jr. free baseball clinic.

In addition to coaching at Georgia State, Thompson has spent the last two years working with USA Baseball. His roles have included evaluating players for the USA 18U National Team and coaching the 17U National Development Program.

“Edwin Thompson is one the top young recruiters in the nation,” said Shaun Cole, Director of the USA Baseball 18U National Team Program. “His ability to work with hitters and pitchers makes him a well-rounded head coach. Coach Thompson has a high level of integrity and passion for college baseball. Edwin is a great hire.”

Before joining the Georgia State program, Thompson spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons at Duke University as the assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. Following the 2012 campaign, Thompson served as the interim head coach for one month. While working with the Blue Devils, his 2012 recruiting class was recognized by Baseball America as one of the top recruiting classes in the South and rated among the top-35 in the nation by Perfect Game. The group included four future Major League Baseball draft picks.

Thompson worked with a total of 12 players at Duke that would go on to play professional baseball, including current Toronto Blue Jay Marcus Stroman. Stroman, the 22nd pick in the 2012 MLB draft, was the first-ever Duke player chosen in the first round.

Thompson compiled a 37-33 record in two seasons (2009 & 2010) as the head coach at NCAA Division III Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. He led the program to a school record 25 wins. Thompson’s coaching career began at the University of Maine at Farmington where he served four seasons (2005-08) as the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator.

The Jay, Maine native played collegiately at Howard University and the University of Maryland before concluding his career at Webber University in Babson Park, Florida where he helped the team to a school record 37 wins and its first-ever regional appearance. He earned a bachelor’s of science degree in general business at Webber in 2003.

Thompson played one year for the Bangor Lumberjacks in the independent Northeast League before starting his coaching career.

by Erika Khair, Student Writer, EKU Communications & Marketing

In addition to teaching algebra and mathematical applications to students, Eastern professor Dr. Antoinette Davis wants to inspire people of all ages to greater educational attainment.

Davis is a lecturer in the University’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics and has also written four books, including her most recent, “Achieving the Ultimate Dream of Education,” which was published in May.

She describes the book as “a road map to success and the overall future.” In it, Davis recounts her experiences throughout her college education and shares advice for parents who want to put themselves or their children through school.

After a 10-year journey that culminated in a doctoral degree in 2014, Davis can draw from considerable educational experience in her writing. A native of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Davis earned an associate degree in secondary education and teaching from Lake Michigan College. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oakwood University, which was followed by a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Wayne State University and a doctorate in mathematics education from the University of Kentucky.

Davis was also inspired by her mother, who returned to college after 20 years. “A lot of people feel like they can’t accomplish their dreams for various reasons,” she said, “so I shared my mother’s story. I was just encouraged to see her going toward her dream. You’re never too old.”

In her own classroom, Davis finds the best part of her job to be encouraging her students, even if they hate math. “I enjoy teaching math and getting to know the students, because they’re all different, from different environments and different math teachers,” she said. “When I began teaching, I said I wanted to teach how I learned. In my courses, I believe in breaking everything down to the smallest parts, then building back up. I’m encouraged when someone says, ‘I never learned math this way.’ I’m excited that what I’m teaching they’re learning.”

Davis also emphasizes the importance of a college education to even be eligible for many jobs in today’s world. She works with the University’s Upward Bound program for high school students who want to be the first college students in their families.

“Education is important, because we need to show children they matter and have a future,” she said. “It’s exciting to see that education can do so much, but people have to see individuals like us and what it’s doing in our lives for them to say, ‘You know what, maybe I can do it, too.’”

“College is the best way to determine what you want to do in life,” Davis added. “People should know that following your dreams can increase your happiness because you will have the ability to work in a job you love.”

Dr. Melinda Wilder, director of natural areas at Eastern, recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education (KAEE).

Wilder’s career as an environmental educator began in 1978 when she was a resource management ranger for the Corps of Engineers at Lake Cumberland and then Lake Barkley. After earning her master’s degree, she continued to pursue her passion for environmental education as a middle school teacher at Model Laboratory School on the EKU campus.

In her current role, Wilder has introduced the wonders of environmental education to countless pre-service and in-service educators, who have gone on to inspire their own students. Through her work at EKU, she has provided professional development opportunities and resources through her outreach to communities throughout the region. Wilder has trained educators and facilitators in nationally recognized curricula such as Project WET, Learning Tree and WILD, as well as the North America Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) Guidelines for Excellence.

She has also been a leader at the state level, serving as one of three co-chairs who led the development of the Kentucky Environmental Literacy Plan, and continues to play a lead role in its implementation. She also works as a facilitator for the Professional Environmental Educator Certification through the Kentucky Environmental Education Council, and is a member of the Council’s advisory committee. Thanks in part to Wilder’s efforts, EKU was among the first four institutions in North America to receive recognition for a new NAAEE higher education initiative at last year’s NAAEE conference in Ottawa.

“It is safe to say that environmental education in Kentucky would not be where it is today if not for the efforts of individuals such as Dr. Wilder and her unwavering dedication to making Kentucky a national leader in the field of environmental education,” said Ashley Hoffman, executive director for the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education.

Wilder and other honorees were recognized at KAEE’s annual Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Gala in Lexington on June 6.

The Kentucky Association for Environmental Education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and serves as the professional membership-based organization for environmental education in Kentucky. Since 1976, the KAEE has worked to build a sustainable environment through education. KAEE is one of the country’s oldest associations supporting environmental education and the first affiliate of the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Dr. Tanlee Wasson was recently named assistant vice president for institutional effectiveness and institutional research at EKU.

Wasson joined the University in June after five years as the director of institutional effectiveness at Indiana University Southeast. She brings more than 13 years of institutional effectiveness and research experience from a career she began as a graduate assistant in EKU’s Office of Institutional Research.

“EKU is where my love of institutional research started almost 15 years ago,” Wasson said. “I have had amazing opportunities to learn, grow and lead at other institutions. Those experiences have prepared me well to return home to help EKU achieve its mission of service to the students and communities of this region.”

In her new role Wasson will lead both the Office of Institutional Effectiveness and the Office of Institutional Research. “Our goal is to serve the campus by providing quality, accurate and relevant research and data to guide decisions that impact all facets of the university,” she said.

Currently Wasson’s office is focused on improving the accessibility of the data and research it produces. Wasson said the campus can expect to see several communications this year regarding the ability to access data more efficiently and frequently.

Wasson also said she is learning as much as she can about the campus and her colleagues, while contributing to several important ongoing or upcoming initiatives, including strategic planning, SACS accreditation and academic program review.

A native of Stanton, Wasson understands the important role EKU plays in providing access to quality education for the growth of individuals and communities. She earned her master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from the University in 2002.

“Without this institution and the education I received, I would have missed out on so many wonderful and valuable experiences in my life, and I would be less able to serve the communities in which I live and work,” she said. “This job allows me to contribute to the process of making sure those growing up in communities like mine have the opportunity to seek those same or even better experiences.”

Prior to attending EKU, Wasson earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Berea College. In 2008, she earned a doctoral degree in applied organizational psychology from Hofstra University.

As both a player and an assistant coach at EKU, Austin Newton played a key role on some of the most successful men’s basketball teams in the history of the University.

Now, in a new role focused on the EKU Athletics Annual Fund and the Colonel Club, Newton will take on the challenge of securing private support to help the University’s entire athletics program reach new heights of excellence.

“Eastern Kentucky University Athletics is very excited about Austin Newton joining the Colonel Club as director of annual giving,” said EKU Director of Athletics Steve Lochmueller. “Austin brings a long history of playing, coaching and mentoring young men while at EKU. This will certainly be an asset as he starts his new position, increasing donations in support of moving Colonel Athletics to the next level. We need all the Colonel Nation to join us in this effort.”

Newton said he was “excited” to begin his new role.

“Eastern Kentucky University is a special place to me and my family,” Newton said. “This university and community have allowed me so many wonderful opportunities over the years. I've been fortunate enough to see many EKU athletic programs have success and win multiple championships. My new position will allow me the chance to help our current student athletes and coaches get the resources that are necessary to win and represent our University at a high level.

“As a former student athlete and coach, I understand and very much appreciate the importance of the people who support the Colonel Club. The contributions and commitment from these loyal Colonels are crucial to our success. I promise to bring a ton of energy and work diligently to develop new ideas and strategies to make the Colonel Club the best it's ever been. I look forward to being a part of the Colonel family for many years to come.”

After an outstanding prep career at Campbellsville High School, Newton played at EKU 2001-05 and was a senior captain on the 2004-05 squad that earned a spot in that season’s NCAA Tournament and won what was at that time a school-record 22 games. He excelled in the classroom as well: the three-year Colonel Scholar-Athlete graduated cum laude in August 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

He then began his coaching career at the University of Massachusetts, where he served under former EKU Head Coach Travis Ford. After two seasons in Amherst, he re-joined the EKU basketball family as a Basketball Operations Assistant 2008-10 and has served as Assistant Coach since 2010. The 2012-13 team won 25 games, followed by seasons of 24 wins and 21 victories. The latter was tied for the fourth most in program history.

In 2011-12, Newton was one of approximately 85 NCAA Division I coaches from across the nation to volunteer to keep a running journal on CollegeChalkTalk.com, discussing life as a college basketball coach and addressing some of the hot-button issues related to today’s game.

Nick Perlick, vice president for development and alumni relations at EKU, said: “We’re very pleased to welcome Austin to the EKU Development staff. This is an extremely exciting time in Colonel Athletics, and we see tremendous fundraising potential for our athletics program. Austin’s unique experience as a student athlete and coach, his passion for EKU, and the relationships he holds with many EKU fans and supporters make him an ideal candidate to lead our new Colonel Club efforts. I’m confident that with his leadership, our athletic donors will quickly notice some new and dynamic components to their Colonel Club experience.”

Ian Mooers, director of the Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET) at EKU, has been appointed to the East Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board (EKWIB).

“These are critical and transformational times for the region, and workforce development is incredibly important to economic diversification and the success of initiatives like Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), the East Kentucky Promise Zone, and many other community-based efforts,” said Jeff Whitehead, executive director of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Inc. (EKCEP). “Mr. Mooers’ experience in economic development, entrepreneurial growth strategies, planning and leadership will bring great value and expertise to the Board. Perhaps more important is his proven ability to link resources to the needs of businesses and industry.”

Mooers, a resident of Irvine, joined the EKU staff in 2009. He had previously served as director of entrepreneurial programs at George Mason University in Virginia.

“Eastern Kentucky is embracing its own future by adapting and facing the challenges all rural communities are dealing with in terms of population decrease, lagging unemployment rates, and the loss of a major industry,” Mooers said. “The Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (www.ekcep.org) and the East Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board are important players in that future, and constantly seek out innovative solutions to the most pressing needs of the employers and communities in their 23-county service area to create jobs and opportunities for its citizens. In my role as a member of the EKWIB, and as director of CEDET at EKU, I will be looking at how the resources at EKU along with our many partners in the region can help the EKWIB discover new workforce solutions to meet employer needs in the region. I am very honored to be selected to serve on the EKWIB for EKCEP, and I look forward to working with the board.”

The 24-member Board, established in response to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, will provide strategic planning, oversight and leadership to workforce development funds in the Eastern Kentucky CEP’s 23-county region. The Board will hold its first meeting in Hazard on Sept. 17.

CEDET, housed in EKU’s Business and Technology Center, provides assistance to businesses, organizations, industries and communities to aid in their development. It includes offices of the Small Business Development Center and the Kentucky Innovation Network, as well as a business accelerator, an export training program and Coal Country Beeworks. For more information, visit cedet.eku.edu.

Melinda Wilder, director of the Division of Natural Areas, and Billy Bennett, director of the EKU Center for Environmental Education were certified as master environmental educators at a ceremony in Frankfort on May 14.

A total of 20 environmental educators from across the Commonwealth were recognized. All master environmental educators have completed the state’s rigorous Professional Environmental Educator Certification (PEEC) course and at least six subsequent years of continuing education. The course is offered by the Kentucky Environmental Education Council (KEEC), an agency of the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet.

“I was a relative newcomer to Kentucky when I joined the 2005 PEEC course, and the networking opportunities provided to me were immeasurably beneficial,” said Elizabeth Schmitz, executive director of KEEC. “In addition to numerous resources and contacts, I gained a much better understanding of environmental education best practices – most importantly, the role of the environmental educator in illuminating the complexity of environmental issues without advocating for a particular viewpoint.”

The PEEC course, with over 150 graduates since the program was launched in 2004, is based on national guidelines designed to professionalize the field of environmental education by standardizing best practices. The Guidelines for Excellence in Environmental Education are produced by the North American Association for Environmental Education.

Since completing the certification course, Wilder and Bennett have become PEEC course instructors.

“Participation in KEEC’s Professional Environmental Education Certification program has allowed me to connect with other environmental educators throughout the Commonwealth who are committed to increasing the environmental literacy of all Kentuckians,” said Wilder.

Participants in the program are interested in educating others about the environment in both formal and nonformal settings such as nonprofit organizations, schools, parks, nature centers, extension offices, libraries and zoos.

“The Professional Environmental Educator Certification course is a worthwhile endeavor for both formal and informal environmental educators. The ability to share ideas between the professional communities of the various agencies and institutions represented at the training sessions is invaluable,” Bennett said.

The EKU Board of Regents, meeting in regular session on June 22, approved a new Strategic Plan for the University.

The plan, entitled “Make No Little Plans: A Vision for 2020,” focuses on six strategic goals: academic excellence, commitment to student success, institutional distinction, financial stability, campus revitalization and service to communities and region. Each goal is supported by several strategic initiatives.

Matt Roan, co-chair of the Strategic Planning Committee, said the plan is the “result of the collaborative efforts of many individuals. It represents shared governance at its finest.”

In other business, the Board:

  • approved a 2015-16 budget of approximately $348 million, up a little less than 2 percent from the University’s 2014-15 budget of approximately $342 million.
  • approved a new master’s degree program in Athletic Training, pending final approval by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.
  • approved faculty emeritus status for Foundation Professors Dr. Hal Blythe and Dr. Charlie Sweet.
  • heard a presentation by Bullhorn Creative, the Lexington firm engaged by the University to provide expert guidance in the development of a new brand strategy.
  • heard a presentation by EKU Athletics. Director of the Athletics Steve Lochmueller, two coaches and several student-athletes addressed the Board.

The honors keep coming for Model Laboratory High School.

According to the research site Niche, Model Lab is the third best public high school in Kentucky, behind only DuPont Manual High School in Louisville and Highlands High School in Fort Thomas. Last fall, Newsweek magazine ranked Model, located on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University, among the top 1 percent of the nation’s public high schools.

Model, with 225 students in grades 9-12, scored particularly high in academics, educational outcomes, faculty, administration/policies and health/safety. For a complete list of the top Kentucky schools, visit k12.niche.com/rankings/public-high-schools/best-overall/s/kentucky.

Ninety-five percent of Model’s 2015 graduates are college bound, with the remainder career bound, including one entering the Marines. The school’s most recent graduating class has received approximately $1.1 million in scholarships.

According to the site, 75 percent of the Model Lab students are, based on state standards, considered proficient in math and/or reading, well above the state average.

Model Lab Interim Director Ann Burns cited academic rigor and collaboration with EKU to meet the needs of students among the school’s biggest strengths. “That relationship with the University gives students the freedom of choice to explore multiple academic tracks. Students value the freedom they receive as a part of the University setting.”

Established more than a century ago on the Eastern campus, Model Laboratory School educates students from Pre-K through 12th grade while providing field experiences for EKU students and demonstrating evidence-based strategies. It is the Commonwealth’s only remaining laboratory school.

“We continue to work to make Model the finest school possible for our students, faculty and community,” Burns said.

To arrive at its rankings, Niche blends student and parent reviews with hard data to compare more than 100,000 public and private schools and districts.

“A high ranking indicates that the school is an exceptional academic institution with a diverse set of high-achieving students who rate their experience very highly,” according to Niche.

The evening started with a rainbow that arced perfectly behind the commencement stage.

And it ended with a fireworks display in the night skies above Richmond.

In between, Eastern’s Spring 2015 graduating class was exhorted by Lt. Gov. “Crit” Luallen on May 15, to help build “a new Kentucky.”

Luallen, who has held a variety of elected and appointed positions in a career in public service spanning 41 years, came with a “special message” for those with roots in eastern Kentucky.

“Eastern Kentucky, more than any region,” she said, “has a special spirit, a deep sense of pride in your culture and a strong sense of place. And that love of place will be the key to eastern Kentucky’s future.

“There is so much to be proud of and so many reasons to build a new future for the region that will provide opportunities for anyone who wants to stay to be able to,” said Luallen, who noted her own ancestors came through the Cumberland Gap and up the Wilderness Road. “Today we are working to build a new Kentucky for this new century so that you and your children will have opportunities to stay near your roots if that is your choice.”

Luallen, who also received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, said the Commonwealth is “moving in the right direction” in job creation, economic development, education and health care. “But that progress is clearly not reaching every corner of Kentucky, and we need your generation to be the leaders who will take us successfully into the future.

“Much of the past of eastern Kentucky was built on the hard work, the sweat, and the sacrifice of those who labored in coal mines so you could celebrate this milestone tonight,” Luallen continued. “And now you are armed with the tools to participate in the new economy, carrying with you that legacy of hard work and personal responsibility. There is a critical need for your leadership, in Kentucky and in this region. Your families have sacrificed for your accomplishments here tonight and we are now calling on you to give back to society, to help us build a better future. And if your future is not here, help to build a better future wherever your journey takes you.”

Stephanie Smith, Barbourville, who earned a master’s degree in public health, delivered the student commencement address. She urged her fellow graduates to approach life with an optimistic attitude of “Why not?”

Alexandria Ryan Sowers, of Lexington, who graduated with bachelor’s degrees in history and comparative humanities, was presented the President’s Outstanding Senior Award for 2015.

This spring, Eastern recognized 2,068 candidates for bachelor’s degrees, 551 candidates for master’s degrees, 106 candidates for associate degrees, 22 candidates for specialist degrees and 17 candidates for doctoral degrees for a total of 2,764.

EKU exceeds similar benchmark institutions and other comparison groups on several measures related to student engagement.

According to the 2014 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), EKU seniors ranked the University especially high on effective teaching practices, quality of interactions, and two areas related to level of academic challenge: higher-order learning and quantitative reasoning. In fact, Eastern scored ahead of its benchmarks, national norms and southeast public universities in all those categories except quantitative reasoning, where it eclipsed its benchmarks and national average. Seniors also ranked EKU ahead of its benchmarks in supportive environment.

First-year students also rated Eastern higher than its benchmark institutions in higher-order learning and collaborative learning and ahead of the national norm in learning strategies.

In most other areas, EKU’s scores, among both seniors and first-time students, were roughly identical to the University’s benchmarks and comparison groups.

The NSSE survey, launched in 2000 and updated in 2013, assesses the extent to which students engage in educational practices associated with high levels of learning and development. The questionnaire collects information in five categories: 1) participation in dozens of educationally purposeful activities, 2) institutional requirements and the challenging nature of coursework, 3) perceptions of the college environment, 4) estimates of educational and personal growth since starting college, and 5) background and demographic information.

The survey also showed that the percentage of EKU first-year students and seniors who rated their experience as “excellent” or “good” and who said they would “definitely” or “probably” choose to attend the institution again given the opportunity exceeded the average for benchmarks, southeast public institutions and the nation. In each case, 87-89 percent of the first-year students and seniors responded affirmatively.

Higher-order learning (for which EKU rated “significantly” ahead of its benchmarks) refers to how much coursework emphasizes applying facts, theories, or methods to practical problems or solutions; analyzing an idea, experience or line of reasoning in depth by examining its parts; evaluating a point of view, decision or information source; and forming a new idea or understanding from various pieces of information. The high rank reflects EKU’s Quality Enhancement Plan, dating to 2006, which calls for the University to develop “informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively.”

Effective teaching practices, according to NSSE, include clearly explained course goals and requirements, courses taught in organized fashion, the use of examples and illustrations to explain difficult points, feedback on works in progress, and prompt and detailed feedback on tests or completed assignments.

Quality of interactions, in the Campus Environment category, encompasses interactions with fellow students, academic advisers, faculty, and student services and other administrative staff.

Learning strategies refers to students being able to identify key information from reading assignments, review notes after class and summarize what they learn in class or from course materials.

Quantitative reasoning refers to students learning to reach conclusions based on their own analysis of numerical information, use that numerical information to examine real-world problems and issues, and evaluate what others have concluded from numerical information.

NSSE Director Dr. Alexander McCormick said institutions that prioritize student success are marked by a “positive restlessness” and the mindset that “success is everyone’s job and continuous improvement is informed by data. The NSSE survey … continues to accumulate important evidence about activities and practices that foster learning and development.”

In a foreword to NSSE’s 2014 report, Dr. Muriel Howard, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, noted: “In the top-performing institutions, there was a commitment to student success, and responsibility for that success was placed on the institution and its staff. This institutional commitment engaged the entire campus community. Student success is built on a student-centered culture.”

The NSSE survey is sponsored by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. To view the complete EKU results, visit oie.eku.edu/university-level-assessment.

Because EKU CARES:
  • Students in Perry County will be taught where their food comes from and encouraged to begin a healthy lifestyle at a young age.
  • High school students in Wayne and Pulaski counties will be educated about mental illness and mental health.
  • Estill County Emergency Medical Services will develop a coordinated multi-tiered safety plan for preventing school violence and disruption and for responding to school violence and disruption when it occurs.
  • Students in four school districts in Whitley and Knox counties will be exposed to the arts through a variety of course options and opportunities.
  • Local community members from Harlan, Letcher and surrounding counties will engage in citizen science projects, such as monitoring lichens as a bio indicator of air quality, creating a sense of ownership and empowerment.

Each of these five community-based projects recently received a $10,000 grant from EKU’s Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship (CARES). By design, all the initiatives include partners at EKU and focus on one or more of the five following areas: economic and workforce development, education, environment, collaborative government, and health, wellness and safety. None of the grant funds can be used to cover construction costs.

“EKU is dedicated to our people, places and programs on our campuses and all across our region,” EKU President Michael Benson said. “These grants represent a great community partnership that is designed to address very specific opportunities in our communities and help those dedicated community servants carry out their good work.”

Eighteen proposals from across the EKU service region were submitted for possible funding. “We appreciate the hard work that went into preparing each one,” said Ian Mooers, director of EKU’s Center for Economic Development, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CEDET). “I want to thank our internal and external grant reviewers who gave valuable time to carefully consider each application.”

A synopsis of each grant-awarded community project follows:

Agriculture Literacy Project – A partnership between the EKU Department of Anthropology/Sociology/Social Work (Dr. Jennifer Wies) and Perry County Farm to School aims to make students aware of where their food comes from through farm field days, school gardens, and in-class food and nutrition education. The goal of the project is to instill healthy habits at an early age, teach environmental stewardship, and introduce hands-on learning that works in conjunction with Common Core standards.

“Ending the Silence” – A partnership between the EKU Department of Psychology (Dr. Robert Brubaker and Dr. Melinda Moore) and NAMI Kentucky will bring much needed education to high school students in Wayne and Pulaski counties about mental health/mental illness. Students will develop awareness and gain specific knowledge about mental health/mental illness conditions that they would not have otherwise had. They will be able to access mental health information, treatment resources, support, advocacy and/or early treatment should they, their friends, or family members need mental health services. The project is expected to help decrease the stigma and fear attached to getting treatment.

Engineers to Preparedness: School Safety and Community Preparedness Project – The partnership between EKU’s School of Justice Studies (Dr. Preston Elrod) and Estill County Emergency Medical Services (ECEMS) will develop and evaluate a plan that will initially target Estill County High School and provide a more comprehensive approach to school violence and disruption by directing more attention at the prevention of violence and disruption while also improving the ability of the school and first responders to effectively respond to and recover from a range of threatening and/or harmful events.

Southeastern Kentucky Fine Arts Academy – The partnership between the EKU Department of Exercise and Sport Science (Dr. Marianne McAdam) and Corbin Independent Schools will create a series of four collaborative fine arts workshops for middle and/or high school students meeting Kentucky’s requirement for formal identification as gifted and talented or who demonstrate high potential in dance, drama, music, or visual arts. The workshops will increase student exposure to various forms of expression in the respective fields. The collaboration between EKU and Corbin Independent Schools as well as surrounding school systems will also help build community capacity to plan, implement and sustain a fine arts academy.

Taking a “Lichen” to Air Quality: A Citizen Science Project – The partnership between EKU’s Division of Natural Areas (Dr. Melinda Wilder) and Pine Mountain Settlement School will develop and pilot a citizen science program using lichens as bio-indicators of air quality within EKU’s service region. This project will also provide the region with an ecological research database and an educational resource.

The community grant programs function on a reimbursement basis, with cost-share required. Grantees must first spend their own funds, in line with an approved budget, and then submit documentation of expenses to CARES to receive reimbursement.

Activities within the following counties were eligible for the grants: Bell, Boyle, Casey, Clay, Estill, Garrard, Harlan, Jackson, Knox, Laurel, Lee, Leslie, Lincoln, McCreary, Madison, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Wayne and Whitley.

The EKU Center for Appalachian Regional Engagement and Stewardship was established to provide a unified, comprehensive approach to stewardship and engagement that focuses on the five areas identified by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education: economic and workforce development, education, environment, collaborative government, and health, wellness and safety.

For more information about how CARES can assist with community needs, contact Justina Keathley at justina.keathley@eku.edu or 859-622-6168 or visit regionalstewardship.eku.edu/eku-cares.

(Erika Khair/C&M)
(Erika Khair/C&M)
Approximately 20 EKU representatives, including President Benson and other top administrators, fanned out along the West Main Street corridor of Richmond the morning of July 7.

Bags and pick-up tools in hand and bedecked in brightly colored vests, the crew spent the morning picking up litter from I-75 back to campus. Tuesday’s “service day” was part of an effort to make an important gateway to the EKU campus as visually appealing as possible.

“We take pride in our campus and community,” Benson said. “We want to do everything we can to help keep it clean and to showcase one of the main entry points into campus.”

Benson indicated that more such exercises will be scheduled in the future and involve students as well. “We intend this to be just the first of many efforts.”

The initiative stemmed from a discussion at a recent meeting of the President’s Council, Benson noted. “If we’re going to spell out what the University wants to do (as he did at a recent “town and gown” forum), we need to show that we are also committed to being good citizens and responsible community partners.”

Twenty members of the EKU faculty were selected as 2014-15 Critical Thinking Teachers of the Year.

They are: Faridah Awang, Management, Marketing & International Business; April Ballard, University Programs; Laura Barthel, Management, Marketing & International Business; Teena Blackburn, Philosophy & Religion; Martin Brock, Chemistry; Lindsay Calderon, Biological Sciences; Michael Collier, Safety, Security & Emergency Management; Jon C. Endonino, Anthropology, Sociology & Social Work; Benjamin Freed, Anthropology, Sociology & Social Work; Malcolm P. Frisbie, Biological Sciences; Gill Hunter, English & Theater; Frank Kubala, College of Justice & Safety; Fred May, Safety, Security & Emergency Management; Kristina Petrey, Sciences Nursing: Associate Degree; Matthew Pianalto, Philosophy & Religion; Beth Polin, Management, Marketing & International Business; Mike Roberson, Management, Marketing & International Business; Karen Rudick, Communication; Bill Staddon, Biological Sciences; and Matthew P. Winslow, Psychology.

This year, 277 instructors were nominated by students for their efforts to help students think critically and creatively about their educational, professional and/or personal lives. Selections were based on students’ comments regarding the instructors’ teaching techniques and interactions with students that promote critical thinking.

“The student comments are yet another indication of the emphasis Eastern Kentucky University instructors place on helping students think critically and creatively in the classroom and beyond,” said Rose Perrine, associate dean of university programs. “All the nominees are to be commended for their commitment to student success. Excellent teachers help make our EKU community so special and help to define the Essential Eastern.”

The honorees were recognized at an awards ceremony on April 30.

EKU won the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner's Cup for the 2014-15 school year the league office announced on May 26.

It marks the second-straight and third overall Cup title in the last four years for the Colonels under the new format which began seven years ago (they also won in 2011-12). The award, which is a symbol of overall athletic excellence in Conference-sponsored championships, will be presented to university officials on May 29 at the league's annual Honors Brunch in Nashville.

"I am so proud of all the student-athletes and coaches that are responsible for this prestigious award,” EKU Director of Athletics Steve Lochmueller said. "Their commitment and hard work has paid off again and on behalf of the entire Eastern Kentucky University family, I congratulate them!"

Eastern finished the year with 124.5 points, 16.5 points more than second-place Eastern Illinois; that marked the largest margin of victory under the seven-year old scoring system. EKU was bolstered by first-place finishes in men's and women's cross country, men’s and women’s golf and first-place ties in each men’s and women’s tennis.

Prior to the Commissioner's Cup being instituted in 2008-09, the Colonels won an OVC record 15 Men's All-Sport Championships and seven Women's All-Sport Championships.

Eastern Illinois finished with 108 points while Murray State (105.6), Jacksonville State (103.5), SIUE (102.5) and Belmont (100.5) each eclipsed the 100-point mark. The standings were rounded out by Southeast Missouri (99.25), Morehead State (89), Tennessee Tech (84), Austin Peay (76.5), UT Martin (74.7) and Tennessee State (62.25).

The award (which started in 1962-63 for men's sports and 1980-81 for women's sports) was previously divided into a Men's All-Sport Champion and a Women's All-Sport Champion. Points were awarded for each of the 18 sponsored sports and each school was required to count its totals from each sport in its grand total.

Under the latest scoring system, schools are required to count point totals for four main sports (football, volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball) along with their next eight highest point totals from the remaining sports, regardless of gender. Belmont, Morehead State and SIUE, which do not compete in OVC football, count baseball as one of its four required sports.

The points system for scoring is as follows. For all sports (except rifle, men's indoor and men's outdoor track - which have fewer participating teams), the first place team earns 12 points, the second place team earns 11 points, etc. For rifle, men's indoor and men's outdoor track and field, the first-place team earns 12 points and subsequent point increments are calculated by dividing the total number of OVC member institutions by the number of institutions sponsoring the sport (for rifle that number is 2.4 less, for men's indoor track that number is 2.0 less and for men's outdoor track that number is 1.75 less). The scoring system also includes a bonus point for the winner of OVC Tournaments (soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball and baseball).

The EKU Adult Education Program recognized 75 graduates from Clay, Garrard and Madison counties in a ceremony on May 12 at the Perkins Building featuring State Rep. Rita Smart as the keynote speaker. During the past year, 34 students completed their GED and 30 students successfully completed the Kentucky Paraeducator Certification. Eleven students from Madison County also earned a National Career Ready Certification (NCRC) from the EKU Adult Education Program.

“This was a very special evening for all of our students and their families,” said Dr. Paula Jones, director of the EKU Adult Education Program. “We are very proud for all of our students and for their accomplishments over the past few months. It has been a privilege to partner with each of them. We are honored to be able to serve them to help each of them to achieve the goals they have set for themselves.”

Students Sheri Windburn and Weronika Front each gave presentations about the impact the EKU Adult Education Program has had on them. Both shared personal stories of challenges they have faced and what it means to achieve their academic goals. Floyd Wayne Moore was the recipient of the Berea Rotary Club Scholarship. More than 240 guests were on hand to congratulate the graduates.

“We truly appreciate all of the support we have received from both EKU and our local community leaders,” Jones said. “It means a great deal to have so many members from our community attend the graduation ceremony. We especially want to thank the Berea Rotary Club for their support. In addition, we want to thank Representative Rita Smart, Debbie Kidd and the Treble Clef Youth Choir. Each helped to make this evening a great success.”

The EKU Adult Education Programs are supported by the Kentucky Adult Education Program (KYAE) in Frankfort, Kentucky through the College of Education at Eastern Kentucky University. The EKU Adult Education Program offers many services, including GED preparation, the National Career Ready Certification (NCRC), ACT prep, computer literacy classes, career skills classes and the Kentucky Para-educator Assessment. All services/classes are offered at no cost to adult residents of Clay, Garrard and/or Madison counties.

For more information, call 859-622-8065. For more information on the resources and free courses offered, visit adulteducation.eku.edu.

The “wow” is back at Eastern’s Hummel Planetarium.

Recent equipment upgrades have made the 27-year-old facility an even more attractive option for campus uses, for school groups from around the region, and to the public. Grand re-opening ceremonies were held at the planetarium May 21. Featured speakers were State Rep. Rita Smart, Kentucky Commissioner of Tourism Mike Mangeot and Dr. Anthony Blose, chair of EKU's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

“With the capabilities of the current system, the wow factor will probably be even greater than it would have before,” said Blose. "That is the first step toward getting a student interested in astronomy and science in general.”

In addition to the featured programs, especially of interest to children, the upgrades provide a "sky" for the planetarium. At the conclusion of public shows and some showings for schools, Planetarium Manager James Hughes can now project that evening’s night sky, outline and label major constellations and planets, show orbit lines and even take guests on virtual trips to any destination with the click of a computer mouse.

“This allows astronomy classes at EKU as well as school groups and public groups to learn the constellations and better understand the motions we see in the sky, such as day/night and seasons,” Blose said. "There are all kinds of effects that the system will provide such as 'fly-ins’ to places in the solar system and beyond. This would be possible only with the high caliber professional system that we had installed."

Blose said a "reliable" planetarium sky is an "essential" component of any planetarium, whether a professor is conducting a university class or a K-12 teacher is hoping that certain science standards are covered. "This new system makes it possible to carry out that instruction more effectively.”

In fact, Blose argued, the planetarium can be employed in a variety of academic contexts. For example, the Department of Geosciences "would likely be able to use the sky function for planetary geology purposes as well as other things. Outdoor education programs often use the planetarium sky to get an understanding of what they will see on their next field trip.”

Hummel Planetarium’s new Definiti system utilizes a high-tech array of projectors and computers. Projectors, lenses, Definiti graphics computers, and DigitalSky software work in tandem to maximize image quality and performance, stitching high-resolution video streams into one seamless picture to immerse audiences in a 360-degree environment. "This makes it possible to see the sky as it would appear from any planet or moon within our solar system, or any point in between," Hughes said. "The full-dome video makes you feel like you’re right there.”

Additional seating has raised the planetarium's capacity to 194, including more handicapped seating. Outside the viewing room, other improvements have added to the facility’s appeal.

The result is an even more valuable resource for the region, said David McFaddin, executive director for government relations and regional stewardship, who welcomed guests to the grand re-opening.

“The new and improved Hummel Planetarium continues to be a major asset for Eastern Kentucky University in helping us reach out to our regional communities and bring educational and recreational experiences to students, teachers and others who take the opportunity to enjoy this exceptional facility and the outstanding programming that is being delivered,” McFaddin said. "Our planetarium is one of the best in the country and we look forward to sharing it with everyone we can.”

In addition to its shows for schools and other groups, the planetarium recently resumed public programs on Saturdays.

The EKU Center for the Arts will host another Kentucky gubernatorial debate this fall.

The Oct. 25 debate, to be broadcast statewide, is being organized by WKYT (Lexington), WLKY (Louisville), WYMT (Hazard), WSAZ (Huntington, W.Va.), WBKO (Bowling Green), WLWT (Cincinnati) and WPSD (Paducah). The stations are partnering with the Kentucky League of Women Voters. The event, from 6 to 7 p.m., will be moderated by WKYT’s Bill Bryant and WLKY’s Vicki Dortch.

Democrat Jack Conway and Republican Matt Bevin have agreed to appear at a series of debates and forums prior to the November general election.

EKU’s 2,014-seat Center for the Arts hosted a gubernatorial debate in 2011 as well as a Sixth District congressional debate in 2014.

“We are thrilled to play a role in bringing this gubernatorial debate to EKU,” said Joel Aalberts, executive director of the EKU Center for the Arts. “The EKU Center for the Arts is a community resource, and participating in this process is good for the Commonwealth, our region, and our campus community.

“The Center has built a strong relationship with WKYT over the years and we look forward to working with them, their broadcast partners and the League of Women Voters to stage an event that is professionally done and valuable to Kentucky voters. We are proud of our track record in hosting debates at the EKU Center and look forward to being the site for more events like this at Eastern Kentucky University in the future.”

EKU is among 16 applicants across the nation, and the only site in Kentucky, vying to host a U.S. presidential or vice presidential debate in 2016. The Center for the Arts would serve as the debate hall. The selection of the 2016 host sites will be announced this fall.

Ticket information for the gubernatorial debate will be announced at a later date.

Last winter, he shoveled nearly a foot of snow off a student’s driveway in Berea after that student challenged him on Twitter to make it possible for him to attend class the next morning.

On May 17, President Benson took time to preside at a one-person commencement ceremony, again due to a Twitter request from a student.

It’s hard to say who was more exhausted after the whirlwind of May 15-16: Una Britton, who had just competed in the OVC track and field championships, where she topped all competitors in the 10,000-meter final; or Benson, who had presided over or participated in five commencement ceremonies the previous two days.

But, thanks to the thoughtfulness of two of Britton’s teammates, both stood on the stage of the Van Peursem Amphitheatre in the University’s Ravine at noon on Sunday, May 17, for a makeshift private commencement ceremony for Britton, who was unable to be on campus Friday to receive her master’s degree in Exercise and Sport Science.

“Una missed graduation due to OVC,” Julie Mathisen tweeted Benson on Saturday afternoon, “so we are hosting a graduation for her tomorrow, and we need an official speaker.”

After a few more details were exchanged, Benson assured Mathisen he would be there to confer Britton’s degree. With a dozen or so proud teammates and coaches looking on, Benson conferred the degree on the student-athlete from Wicklow, Ireland, who had excelled in track and cross country the past two years at Eastern. He even gave a speech that was “just the right length.”

Britton said she was “really surprised, and appreciative, that President Benson took time to come to my ‘graduation ceremony.’ I thought (the snow-shoveling event) was probably a once-off. I presume President Benson was almost ‘graduated-out’ by Sunday, so for him to come to our impromptu ceremony was extremely nice of him.

“The fact that a president of a university would interact with the students in such a way shows that he is in touch with the student population and really cares about the students and the EKU community,” Britton added. “I was also surprised, and extremely grateful, to the track coaches for coming on a Sunday morning after a hectic OVC weekend.”

Another teammate, Shannon Rutherford, joined Mathisen in arranging the ceremony.

“I had told them how much I missed my undergraduate degree in Ireland because I was starting college here at EKU, and that I would now miss my second graduation,” Britton said. “They decided that they would give me a graduation, and tweeted President Benson, asking would he do the honors. Despite a tiring weekend at OVC, and a late-night return to EKU, the two girls and the rest of the EKU distance team showed up to the Ravine for the celebration.”

Britton was a highly successful competitor in both track and cross country during her two years at Eastern. This past cross country season, she earned first-team all-OVC honors after placing fourth in the OVC championships, helping her EKU team win its eighth conference title in the last nine years. She went on to finish 43rd overall out of 257 runners in the NCAA Southeast Regional. In track, she broke the EKU record in the 10,000 meters with a 35:07.68 at the Drake Relays.

“I have made some of my best friends here at EKU, which makes it really hard to leave,” Britton said. “My teammates might have received a lot of attention this weekend for arranging the graduation ceremony, but they have also been that supportive and brilliant for the whole two years I’ve been here.”

It might take the entire stage at the EKU Center for the Arts just to hold all the awards won by the performers who’ll grace it in the Center’s fifth season.

How about a Tony Award, a Screen Actors Guild award, a Golden Globe and three Emmys. And that’s just veteran actor Hal Holbrook, who brings his acclaimed Mark Twain tribute to the Center’s stage. Add to that a combined haul of 71 Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement; a MacArthur Fellow; and the dance troupe behind two different Kennedy Center honors.

In “The Illusionists,” the Center presents the hottest special event from Broadway’s past season. Also, star Cary Elwes will take guests on a behind-the-scenes tour of one of this era’s most beloved movies, “The Princess Bride.” The Canadian Brass will even welcome local high school musicians to the stage for a once-in-a-lifetime performance opportunity.

Little wonder the theme for the Center’s coming season is “You’ll Love What You See.”

“Our 2015-16 season will lift your spirit, fill you with laughter, introduce you to some of the world’s most interesting young artists and, indeed, bring the world to your back door,” said Joel Aalberts, executive director of the Center. “We look forward to seeing you at the show.”

Some of this season’s performers are household names: The Beach Boys, Ron White, Mannheim Steamroller, Mummenschanz, The Chieftains, Blue Man Group, Canadian Brass, Kathleen Battle and Vince Gill.

The season also includes a performance of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” an award-winning concert event that features symphonic arrangements of music from the most popular video games of all time, a theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters,” a concert by Southern Gospel favorites Ernie Haase and Signature Sound and the Booth Brothers, even a week-long magic camp for children, and much more.

For a complete season schedule, with performance times, costs and much more information, visit ekucenter.com.

Last season, the Center welcomed more than 77,000 guests from 35 states, contributing almost $4 million to the local economy, according to Aalberts. It also enriched the lives of more than 13,000 area students through the Center’s K-12 school matinee program and outreach activities that brought touring artists to Corbin, Manchester, Berea and into classrooms across the EKU campus. This coming season, five school matinees are scheduled: Ailey II, Doktor Kaboom, Seussical, Henry and Mudge and Aesop: The Untold Stories of Aesop’s Fables.

The more performances they attend, the more Center guests save: those who buy tickets to 15 or more events receive a 20 percent discount; to 10 or more events, a 15 percent discount; and to five or more events, a 10 percent discount. Regular discounts are offered seniors, military, youth and students. In addition, membership in the Center’s Friends group means even more benefits, such as special receptions, artist meet-and-greets and more.

Subscription tickets (for orders of five shows or more) must be ordered by phone (859-622-7469) or in person. Individual event tickets are also available. In addition, ekucenter.com, the Center’s box office is open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays and can also be reached toll free at 1-855-EKU-SHOW (358-7469).

The complete list of performances and events:

  • July 20-24, Magic Camp with Kevin Spencer, morning session for ages 7-10, afternoon session for ages 11-17.
  • Sept. 12, Vince Gill, whose 2012 performance “endures as one of the most talked-about events in the EKU Center’s five-year history,” said Aalberts. Gill has won 20 Grammy Awards.
  • Sept. 13, “The Princess Bride: An Inconceivable Evening with Cary Elwes.” Patrons will enjoy a screening of the film, a moderated discussion with star Elwes and a Q-and-A.
  • Sept. 25, Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack, “a tribute show re-creating one of the famous “Summit at the Sands” hotel shows when the Rat Pack was king. Hackett is the son of legendary comedian Buddy Hackett.
  • Oct. 1, Chick Corea and Bela Fleck. The pianist and banjo player, respectively, have earned a combined 30 Grammy Awards.
  • Oct. 4, Imagination Movers, which have delighted Disney audiences for years. For an additional cost, fans can attend a special meet-and-greet party.
  • Oct. 7, “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the family musical and first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
  • Oct. 14, “The Screwtape Letters,” a “smart, provocative and wickedly funny” theatrical adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ novel about spiritual warfare from a demon’s point of view. Ticket discounts are available for groups of more than 10 people. The evening will conclude with a discussion with the actors.
  • Oct. 16, The Beach Boys, American icons whose good-time music has thrilled audiences for more than half a century.
  • Oct. 22, Good Lovelies, a Toronto-based group that won a Juno Award (Canadian Grammy) for Roots Album of the Year. Performances by Good Lovelies, Raul Midon and Mountain Stage constitute the Center’s Mainstage Lounge series, with special pricing.
  • Oct. 29, Ailey II, a mix of contemporary and classic dance pieces.
  • Nov. 5, Ron White, the salty story-telling comedian who rose to fame on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. Mature content and language.
  • Nov. 7, The Illusionists – Live from Broadway, the world’s best-selling touring magic show.
  • Nov. 13, Canadian Brass, featuring brass standards of classical works as well as a vast repertoire of original arrangements. The evening features a pre-show discussion and a joint performance with young musicians from Madison County.
  • Nov. 19, Mannheim Steamroller Christmas, back by popular demand, beloved music combined with dazzling multimedia effects.
  • Nov. 21, “The Brotherhood Tour,” an evening of southern gospel featuring Ernie Haase and Signature Sound and the Booth Brothers.
  • Dec. 5, An Irish Christmas, a journey through the holiday season in Irish music and dance.
  • Jan. 28, Raul Midon, blind singer-songwriter and guitarist, part of Mainstage Lounge series.
  • Feb. 4, Shaping Sound, founded by Emmy-nominated choreographer Travis Wall, a collaboration of visual musicians whose explosive choreography, dynamic rhythm, speed and physical strength give shape and form to sound.
  • Feb. 11, Here Come the Mummies, “Love Fest Tour,” the world’s greatest mystery band performing funk and R & B jams.
  • Feb. 13, Mummenschanz, a famous Swiss performance troupe that has enchanted audiences for more than 40 years with its surreal, comic universe.
  • Feb. 25, Jimmy Webb: The Glen Campbell Years, the song-writer behind some of Campbell’s greatest hits, sharing the music and personal stories of their friendship.
  • March 2, globalFEST, one of the most dynamic global music platforms in North America, featuring music from Haiti, Brazil and Jamaica.
  • March 9, Paddy Maloney, The Chieftains and special guests. The Chieftains have won an Oscar and six Grammys, released 58 albums, performed everywhere from Carnegie Hall to the Great Wall of China, and with everyone from Pavarotti to the Rolling Stones, to Madonna.
  • March 10, Video Games Live, symphonic arrangements of music from popular video games, featuring a 65-piece orchestra and a spectacular multimedia experience.
  • April 7, Mountain Heart, award-winning bluegrass band that has appeared at the Grand Ole Opry more than 125 times, part of Mainstage Lounge series.
  • April 16, Kathleen Battle: The Underground Railroad, with special guests Cyrus Chestnut and the American Spiritual Ensemble, a song cycle of freedom, suffering and salvation with unique renditions of traditional music.
  • April 22, Jad Abumrad, “Gut Churn,” a discussion by the host of WNYC’s Radiolab about the radical uncertainty he feels at the very core of the creative process.
  • April 30, Hal Holbrook in “Mark Twain Tonight,” featuring topical passages from Twain’s works relevant to current events. Holbrook first presented his Twain tribute 50 years ago.
  • May 3-4, Blue Man Group, a global sensation that combines music, technology and comedy.

Also, many campus groups will perform at the Center throughout the coming academic year.

(Terrence  Humphrey/C&M)
(Terrence Humphrey/C&M)
Eastern honored this year's retirees at a campus banquet in May. The honorees, pictured with President Benson, included: front row, from left, Regina Fultz, Mary Swelnis, Vicki Rowe, Joy Renfro, Dolores Marken, Mary Brown-Davis, Judy Short; back row, from left, Clemms Snider, Ted Lloyd, Marlow Marchant, Allen Ault, Stacey Street, Rose Pennington and Peggy Tudor.
Employees celebrating 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 45 years of employment were recognized during a May 7 luncheon on the Blanton House Lawn.

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30-, 35-, 40- and 45-YEAR EKU EMPLOYEES – From left are Carroll Hale (45), Susan Kipp (30), Betty Parke (30) and Carol Thomas (35). Others 30 years and up not present for photo: Bob Brubaker, Stu Johnson, Homer Strong, Linda Wimberly, 30; William Davis, Rick Erdmann, Gary Ritchison, 35; and William Nixon, 40.
25-YEAR EKU EMPLOYEES – Front row, from left, are Shirley Lowe, Debra Simpson, Brenda Howard and Marianne McAdam. Second row, from left, Kenna Middleton, Edna Renfro and David Dailey. Third row: David Williams, Pat Woods and Pamela Blackburn. Fourth row, from left, Tom Schneid, Sonia Smith and Barbara Howard. Back row, William Way, left, and Donald Alexander.
20-YEAR EKU EMPLOYEES – Front row, from left, Beverly Hisel, Stephanie King, Madonna Cain and Jennifer Evans. Second row, from left, Colleen Schneck, Ann Cotton and Anita Foster. Third row, from left, Cathy Robertson, Michalle Rice, Amy Eades and Robin Sparks. Back row, from left, Theresa Jackson, Greg Moberly, James Clark, Elmer Beckler and Adrian Nix.
15-YEAR EKU EMPLOYEES – Front row, from left, Jean Arthur, Christina Wilburn, Glen Adams and Shelia Adams. Second row, from left, Vicki Rowe, Donna Ricketts, Stacia Cook-McCoy and Michelle Mouyeos. Third row, from left, Robin Wicker, Debra Walter, Josephine Martin and Laura Hollingsworth. Fourth row, from left, Beverly Dyehouse, Glenda Poynter, Kim Tate, Sue Keeton, Kristine Smith and Billy Martin. Back row, from left, Timothy Wiseman, Richard Tussey, William Staddon, Kyle McQueen, Ryan Baggett, William Beam and Anthony Adams.
10-YEAR EKU EMPLOYEES – Front row, from left, Brenda Gray, Kathy Mounts and Debbie Zabawa. Second row, from left, Jamie Haddix, Brigitte Causey, Belinda Begley, Jessica Gernert and Michael McGaffey. Third row, from left, Patrick Begley, Debra Sparks, Amy Coates, Janet Alexander and Debbie Sowers. Fourth row, from left, Shon White, Ronnie Nolan, Gary Folckemer and Kelly Smith. Back row, from left, Brian Mullins, Mark Howard, Brad Early and Thomas Britz.
5-YEAR EKU EMPLOYEES – Front row, from left, Elizabeth Keith, Teresa Pasley, Walter Davis, Patti Matthews and Marcus Walker. Second row, from left, Angela Madden, Karen Maloley, Krista Rhodus, Heather Beirne, Kathy Willis and Rella Evans. Third row, from left, William Gulley, Sheila Lippman, Tara Hart-Burhoop and Barsha Rogers. Fourth row, from left, Elizabeth Potter, Christoper Duckworth, Mary Lamar, Jerome May and Constance Sumner. Fifth row, from left, Jennifer Strauel, Patty Sallee, Thomas Parker and Mary Sheets. Back row, from left, Derek Krunchyk, George Gallien and Brett Morris.