Pogatshnik Announces Retirement, Zeigler Tapped for Provost in Eventful Board Meeting

Published on December 11, 2020

Eastern Kentucky University announced today at its regular December board of regents meeting that its provost, longtime Eastern Kentucky University leader Dr. Jerry Pogatshnik, has announced his intention to retire on June 30, 2021. President Dr. David McFaddin said Pogatshnik will be succeeded by the current dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, Dr. Sara Zeigler. 

“After serving nearly 33 years in higher education in various capacities, I’ve come to the point that I want to spend more time on family and other things,” Pogatshnik said. “I am so incredibly grateful to the many exceptional faculty and staff that I have had the privilege to work with during my time at EKU, and there will be other opportunities for me to express my appreciation to them. I owe so much to so many of you.” 

“I’m honored by your confidence in me and your willingness to entrust academic affairs and the welfare of our faculty, our programs and our students to me,” Zeigler said. “Working with our faculty and staff to weather the pandemic has been hard work, but I consider it a privilege. They have demonstrated resilience, determination and dedication. We have a strong community with a deep commitment to our mission and our students,” Zeigler said. Both Zeigler and Pogatshnik said they were eager to work together in the coming months to ensure a smooth transition. 

McFaddin proposed, and the board unanimously supported, a one-time “thank you” payment of $1,000 to roughly 1,650 full-time employees under the umbrella of a University COVID-19 plan to support students, faculty and staff titled Colonels Care. The employee appreciation payment is to be administered concurrent with employees’ next pay period on Dec. 15. “I just want to say thank you Mr. President and to the finance team for finding a way to reward employees. It has been such a hard year, people have been through so much,” said EKU Board of Regents chairman Lewis Diaz. 

“I think this is one of the most important investments we have made to this university in the last several years,” McFaddin said. “From the dynamic and swift shift to a virtual instruction delivery model in the spring, to the incredible work that everyone has done in order for us to have a successful on-campus Fall 2020 semester, you’ve earned this recognition of a job well done. We not only have had a successful semester, but we have thoughtfully and diligently worked toward cost savings this year as a University that allows this payment to be possible.”

President McFaddin’s comprehensive report to the board covered the University’s remarkable progress during unprecedented times. 

Topics of note included: 

  • EKU will soon partner with Radial Inc., to provide educational opportunities to its 6,700 employees, many of which are based in the Commonwealth, in its first corporate partnership for EKU in this capacity. Radial CEO Ilias Simpson joined the Board of Regents meeting to express his excitement about the upcoming partnership with EKU.“We are very excited to partner with your great university,” said Simpson. “Education is a big deal for us at Radial. In terms of corporate social responsibility, it is our focus. We believe very much in developing talent from within our organization. We look forward to a long and thriving partnership.” Radial Inc., is a global, integrated e-commerce logistics and omnichannel technology firm with five Kentucky-based locations. 
  • President McFaddin provided an update about the successful completion of the 2020 football season and the bright future ahead for EKU Athletics. A legislative report was highlighted focusing on pension issues and performance funding updates. The President also commented on many areas of the University that have provided outstanding service to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The University’s Executive Director of Public Safety and Risk Management Dr. Bryan Makinen reported today the Colonel Comeback Plan, which allowed for a full, on-campus experience for thousands of students for Fall 2020, worked well enough that the University missed no instruction days due to COVID-19 during the entire Fall 2020 semester. “We made it,” said Makinen. “Our plan was impactful in curbing the spread of the disease within the community.” Makinen thanked Eastern’s strategic partners for making the Colonel Comeback Plan a success. 

Of note, from Aug. 25 - Dec. 9, contact tracers processed nearly 1,700 reports and 288 COVID-19 tests were administered on-site. “Because of the exceptional planning and execution of strategies, we had zero transmissions within our classrooms, zero transmissions at University-structured activities, and zero transmissions at University-sanctioned events. That is a powerful story to tell and a testament to the great work that was done last semester,” Makinen said. 

Zeigler added that the success of the Fall semester will allow the Spring 2021 semester to go on as planned, with hopes for an in-person graduation in May and a return to normality by Fall 2021. 

“We had a great plan, but no one had done anything like it in 100 years. I’m looking at the spring semester with optimism,” Diaz commented. 

News and Notes

  • EKU President Dr. David McFaddin received a new contract offer from the board of regents 
  • Sr. Vice President of Student Success Dr. Tanlee Wasson gave an enrollment update that included Freshman retention rates of 74.3 percent (up five percent) and freshman cohort rates of 79.5 percent (up four percent) were all-time highs for the University 
  • Sr. Vice President of Finance and Administration Barry Poynter gave a financial update that included news of an innovative partnership with Morgan Stanley concerning bond option transactions

The board’s next scheduled meeting will be March 4, 2021.