The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents, meeting in regular session on Monday, Oct. 19, applauded a report from the Division of Student Success that indicated record enrollment numbers, continuing improvements in graduation rates and new highs for the preparedness level of this fall’s incoming freshman class.
It also heard a construction update and about plans to create a life-size statue and wall to honor Hall of Fame Football Coach Roy Kidd at the stadium that bears his name.
Dr. Laurie Carter, executive vice president and University counsel, shared that:
· EKU this fall welcomed its largest freshman class in 35 years. The 2,906 freshmen are part of the University’s largest-ever enrollment of 16,959.
· Thirty-nine percent of the freshmen were awarded merit scholarships, up from 28 percent a year ago. The average ACT score (22.2) and average high school GPA (3.28) are also the highest in University history. The number of Governor’s Scholars is up from 29 a year ago to 50.
· The percentage of students with developmental needs is down from 31 percent to 21 percent.
· Seventy-six percent of all students in this fall’s freshman class listed EKU as their first choice on their FAFSA forms. In particular, Carter noted, more high-quality students from the University’s primary service region are choosing Eastern. A recently revamped merit scholarship model and associated increase in funding are “having a direct impact in our service region.”
· Four- , five- and six-year graduation rates are all up and ahead of goal.
· Two new facilities are being created: one that will make a positive, first impression on visitors and another aimed at further improving retention and graduation rates, especially among first-generation and under-represented students. A new welcome center, to be created on the first floor of the Whitlock Building, will seat 92 and contain a projection system for displaying video. A Student Success Center in John Grant Crabbe Main Library is intended to “make good on the promise that ‘dreams can come true at EKU,’” Carter said.
The Board meeting also included a video presentation profiling the Division of Student Success as well as powerful testimonies from two students about how the University’s commitment to their success had impacted their lives.
Paul Gannoe, director of capital construction and project administration, updated the Regents on several recently completed, ongoing and planned construction projects. He noted that:
· Phase Two of the New Science Building, to house the departments of Biological Sciences and Geosciences, is expected to be complete by June 2017.
· The Ashland Building Addition, housing a seven-room test burn facility for the University’s fire and safety program, is expected to be complete by late November of this year.
· Renovations of the 15th-19th floors of Commonwealth Hall, to re-locate the eCampus administrative offices, are expected to be finished by mid-December of this year.
· The newly completed Noel Reading Porch on the south side of Crabbe Library now overlooks a newly fashioned pedestrian mall, replacing what had been a lackluster industrial space.
· Work has begun on a pedestrian gateway near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Barnes Mill Road.
· Athletic facilities renovations will continue for the football, baseball and softball complexes.
A drive is underway to raise the funds needed to construct a bronze statue of Kidd and granite wall that will bear the names of all those who coached with him and played for him. Ernie House, vice chair of the Board of Regents and a standout player under Kidd, said the goal is to eventually raise $150,000, adding that it would take approximately $30,000 immediately to commission the work. He hopes for an unveiling in Fall 2016. Kidd’s teams won 315 games and two national I-AA national titles during his 39-year career at EKU. For more information or to make an online donation, visit http://ekusports.com/sports/2015/9/19/GEN_0919153442.aspx.