EKU Vice President for University Development and Alumni Engagement Announces Retirement

Published on January 17, 2023

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Vice President for Development and Alumni Engagement Betina Gardner announced today her plans of retiring after a 28-year career at EKU. 

“Throughout her career, Betina continually filled crucial roles across the university where her unique skill set and deep love for our Eastern Kentucky service region served our university well. Most recently, she stepped up to lead our Alumni and Development team in the midst of a comprehensive campaign. Thanks to her steadfast and innovative leadership, the university broke records in fundraising—even during a global pandemic,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “Betina will be greatly missed by her EKU family,  as well as our amazing alumni, donors, friends and students with whom she has developed such deep relationships.”

Since 2019, Gardner led the philanthropic efforts of the university, focusing primarily on closing the largest comprehensive fundraising campaign in University history. She also serves as the executive director of the EKU Foundation Board. Under her leadership an outstanding team of professionals in the Office of Development and Alumni Engagement set many records, experienced record endowment growth and the largest Giving Day in EKU history. Gardner helped usher in the completion of the Make No Little Plans campaign, exceeding the $50-million goal by more than $11 million.

“Betina has provided stable leadership for the EKU Foundation Board and the Office of Development and Alumni Engagement,” said Foundation Board Chair Jeri Isbell. “Betina keeps mission top of mind—guiding everything she does. That mission is our students. Her commitment to this place and the students that make up EKU is unwavering.”

Prior to serving in her current role, Gardner was dean of Libraries where she worked extensively with the Friends of EKU Libraries to generate support for the Libraries' strategic initiatives. Through private support, Gardner transformed the Libraries into a choice destination and critical resource for students and faculty. She also served as part of the creative team that developed the vision for the nationally renowned Ron and Sherrie Lou Noel Studio for Academic Creativity, a project funded with one of the largest private gifts ever given to the university.

In addition to these positions, Gardner previously served as chief information officer at EKU, overseeing all aspects of IT from student support and business processes to data support services. Her leadership in IT brought focus to the user experience and to the critical importance of technology throughout the university. 

“What a privilege it has been to serve at a place with such special people so dedicated to enhancing and enriching the lives of our students, their communities, and the world.  I may not have graduated from EKU, but I will forever be an Eternal Colonel.”  

A West Liberty native, Gardner is a graduate of Berea College and holds a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. 

Gardner will serve in her current capacity until June 30, 2023 and will co-chair the search committee for her replacement along with Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Barry Poynter. A search for her replacement will begin immediately. Candidates interested in being considered for the search should apply at careers.eku.edu.