Dr. David McFaddin is Eastern Kentucky University’s 14th president after a special meeting of the Board of Regents today. The board voted unanimously to remove the interim from his title and will work out a contract with the president before December. McFaddin is currently paid $300,000 per year.
“Today is truly the culmination of everything that is good about this institution. My job is to serve. Yes, I’m expected to lead. Yes, I’m expected to be accountable, but more importantly, I’m here to support and provide for our students, for our faculty, staff and for every one of my cabinet members. I have the most amazing group of people who are dedicated to this institution in a way that I wouldn’t want to serve with anyone else,” McFaddin said. “I think you will see the best of us will come next. The best for this institution is ahead of us and EKU is in good hands because they are absolutely amazing people who will fight day and night to make sure that opportunity is not just here today, but for generations to come.”
McFaddin was hired on an interim basis in December after Eastern’s 13th president, Dr. Michael T. Benson, stepped down from his post. He becomes the third Eastern graduate to ascend to the presidency, after Dr. Doug Whitlock and Dr. Robert Martin.
“When you think of the ideal leader for an institution and you measure David McFaddin up against that leader, and you try and overlap the two, you’ll find that Dr. McFaddin covers all the essentials of what you’re looking for in a leader, and then some,” said Board of Regents chair Lewis Diaz. “He is everything that we hope our students can become. He comes to us with experience from a Fortune 10 company and has the expertise and experience in higher education to lead EKU in an increasingly competitive market place. Just looking at the total package, it is clear to me that Dr. McFaddin gives Eastern the best shot right now to be all that it is capable of being. He also has that ‘mountain swagger’ that is representative of our traditional service region.”
A native son of Kentucky, President McFaddin holds a doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from EKU. He also holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky and a B.A. summa cum laude from EKU with a major in public relations. Before becoming president, he served as EKU’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Strategic Initiatives, Executive Director of Government Relations, and was a part-time faculty member in the Department of Communication and the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies. Since 2013, McFaddin has been an active member of the President's Council and has overseen many areas of the University. Prior to joining the University, McFaddin held regional and statewide leadership posts with AT&T, a Fortune 10 company and the largest telecommunications provider in the U.S., for nearly 15 years. His tenure there included major legislative, regulatory and strategic initiatives that paved the way for billions of dollars of capital investments in Kentucky.
Last week the EKU Presidential Search Committee, appointed by the board of regents to find EKU’s next president, voted unanimously to endorse McFaddin. The committee was formed in December, but its activities were suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You will not get a tougher job interview than what Dr. McFaddin has been through,” said regent Nancy Collins. “He has literally been through a baptism by fire. We have seen how he has reacted and acted and the team he has put together, and the miraculous job he has done in guiding EKU through this very difficult time. Very difficult. He has my full support.”
“His success is our institution’s success and all of our people’s success. I will acknowledge our search process was significantly hampered by the current public health events that are upon us,” said presidential search committee co-chair Dr. Jason Marion. “I know he cares immensely about this institution. Given all of the circumstances and knowing the team he has around him, I am comfortable making this decision on my end and lending the support of our faculty to making sure he can have success in this role because, as he says so eloquently, we are One Eastern.”
Since taking the interim post in December, Dr. McFaddin has addressed a series of issues that had the potential to substantially and adversely affect the University. A budget shortfall that required a keen eye on spending was quickly followed by a pandemic that forced a rapid transition to remote instruction.
“I don’t think we could have possibly been in better hands since this pandemic began than Dr. McFaddin’s. I’ve never seen someone pull together a team so quickly and so well as he has,” said regent Lynn Taylor Tye. “They always put the students first. I’m so impressed with the way he’s brought everyone together on this campus because when we get through the current pandemic, we’re going to be better than ever and stronger than ever.”
McFaddin’s appointment is effective immediately. Discussions for a new contract will be concluded on or before the December board meeting, Diaz said.