It appears serendipitous that Dr. Bob Davies is a finalist for Murray State’s Presidency. Davies says his teenage daughter, who has a desire to be the Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park, earnestly told him that for her to achieve that goal she’d need to attend Murray State University for its pre-vet program and equine science program.
Just two weeks after that conversation, Davies says, representatives from the search firm Witt/Kieffer, called him to say he had been nominated to apply for the MSU presidency. George Pernsteiner, the President of the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, nominated Davies.
Davies has been the president of Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande, OR since 2009. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business at the University of Nevada, Reno, and his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and his MBA from the University of Oregon.
In campus-wide forum Monday joined by his wife Cindy, Davies discussed his background and his hopes that Murray State could be his “capstone” presidency. Davies answered questions ranging from his views on diversity to online education to the value of university athletics.
Davies ‘s overarching themes throughout the forum revolved around transparent communication, his personal accessibility and strategic planning.
At Eastern Oregon University (Eastern) Davies reports to a state board and doesn’t have the oversight of a local board of Regents, like MSU's.
“The board members are really appointed from the western portion of the state and they don’t really know Eastern Oregon University,” he said. “So I have to redouble my efforts to educate them on the university, to redouble my efforts to ensure that they understand the challenges we face that are unique to our university… Not being afraid to pick up the phone and say here’s what’s going on.”
Regarding working with a local board Davies says relationships are a key. “It’s about communication, it’s about trust, it’s about being a spokesperson to the board for the university and being the spokesperson for the board back to the community,” said Davies.
Davies, 47, says that if hired, he would make no major decisions in the first six months of his presidency. Following that time, he said he would begin a strategic planning process.
The final step in the interview process occurs tomorrow morning for Davies in a closed session with the Board of Regents. The second candidate, Dr. James Smith interviews at noon and will participate in a similar campus-wide forum at 4:00 p.m.
The Board of Regents are likely to make a decision regarding the MSU Presidency on Wednesday.