MSU President Bob Davies Talks Leadership Changes and New Construction at Murray State University
With classes already underway, Murray State University President Bob Davies stopped by the WKMS studios to give an update on leadership staffing changes that occurred over the summer as well as a look forward at future and current construction projects.
Among the changes is the appointment of Dr. Tim Todd to the position of interim pro-vost/vice-president for academic affairs. The MSU board of regents approved his interim appointment in June. Todd served as dean of the College of Business since 2006 and replaces former provost Jay Morgan, who is leaving for an appointment at the Kentucky Council for Post-Secondary Education.
Davies says Todd's involvement in the university's strategic planning process helped demonstrate his qualifications for provost.
"He has provided phenomenal leadership for the Baurenfield College of Business," said Davies. "He's been very attuned to changes in higher education, great strategic thinking, and really putting those all together, it was a natural choice to select him as provost."
Dr. Jerry Muuka now serves as acting dean of the College of Business.
"[Muuka] being able to step up and be interim dean and with the experiences he brings, leading the graduate program, being very involved in various curricular decisions and leading the college...it was not just a conversation about Tim's appointment but about the domino effect."
A national search for a permanent provost is expected to begin this fall.
"We will use a search firm which, to me, brings an extra element of credibility to the process and a very strong layer of transparency on many fronts to ensure that we get the right person," said Davies. "I know that we’ll have candidates from this university community, and that’s a good thing, and by using a search firm that allows for them to have that process to have their candidacy be properly vetted in a very confidential manner.
"My goal will be to have applications in hand, narrowed down to a finalist grouping in January/February, have finalists on campus in February and have a selection so that the new full-time provost will start July 1st."
Along with the shifting of current staff, the university created a new administrative position in the Vice-President of Marketing and Outreach. That role will be filled by Dr. Adrienne King formerly of Idaho State University.
"The key element right now for this institution is that someone has a very strong marketing background and can come in and develop an integrated marketing plan to really help our university move forward on many fronts, including enrollment, and our reputation and standards. Dr. King is a true professional and we’re looking forward to having her onboard, she will be here for the board meeting to give a brief report and then her first day on campus will be September 7th."
And another change was the appointment of Ashley Ireland as dean of libraries.
"Dean Adam Murray did a very wonderful job of really working with the library and having a transformational effect of it," said Davies. "Not just having a library to hold books and journals, but really having a place where knowledge and information is shared and developing tools and aspects that will further that. Ashley really follows that same vein, and I think with her temperament and strategic mindset and her ability to work and plan is really going to continue to move the library forward."
The university is currently committed to approximately $100 million in new construction activity including two new buildings on the main campus, a physics complex and a residential dorm, as well as upgrades to the Breathitt Veterinarian Center in Hopkinsville. Davies says the projects are already on schedule and under budget.
"We watched [the new physics building] very, very closely," said Davies. "That building will not be finished in time for fall semester next year; opening sometime in the November timeframe and bringing classes in for the spring semester of 2017. The residential hall is on schedule and will be open for fall of next year. Part of it will be home to the honors college students who chose to live with the other honors students. That to me is a very exciting opportunity in development as well."
Davies also addressed possible changes to 16th street, a heavily traveled roadway running through the east side of campus.
"[Murray Mayor Jack Rose] and I have talked about this, and to be very clear, this is a city road that goes through the property of Murray State," said Davies. "We’ve talked about some of the possibilities. The city did receive a $800,000 planning grant to determine what is the best way to begin a process of addressing the issue along 16th street. We need to face some brutal facts with this: there’s about 7,000 cars that go up and down 16th street during a normal day during the semester and at the same time we have about 11,000-12,000 pedestrians going back and forth and there’s been estimates of between 70 and 80 vehicular and pedestrian incidents a year.
"I think we’re very fortunate that the number incidents haven't been catastrophic, but first and foremost is the safety of our students, faculty and staff. We have to put that at the forefront. The second item that we’ll need to take a very strong look at, is what can be done immediately, what can be done long term and what are the steps in-between. The third aspect is cost. The last estimate I saw was in the neighborhood of about $9 million. I also don’t know if that is in the best interest for Murray State or in the future. It will take a long time for that to be implemented. Students are going to find ways to be creative to find where they need to go the path of least resistance."
The city of Murray is expected to complete the analysis of 16th street modifications by November.