Murray State University President Bob Davies is leaving to take a job in Michigan. Central Michigan University announced today Davies will be their 15th president. CMU trustess introduced Davies this morning in a meeting. He will begin his duties September 1.
CMU’s main campus is in Mount Pleasant. The public research university has more than 23,000 students. The Central Michigan Chippewas compete in the Division One Mid-American Conference. The university’s 14th president George Ross announced in January that he’d step down on July 31. The Board of Trustees began planning a search soon after Ross’ announcement. Executive Vice President and Provost Michael Gealt is serving as interim president.
The Board of Trustees of the University of Central Michigan praised Davies for his ability to form external relationships, commitment to rigor and excellence, and his history with university advancement and development efforts for fundraising, in their meeting this morning. CMU Board Vice Chair Tricia Keith said "Dr. Davies talks about rigor, relevance and excellence. He wants to ensure we have rigor in evaluating what we're doing, relevance in the education we deliver, and excellence in the outcomes we achieve for our students and community and business partners."
Davies said in a campus letter, "While I was not actively pursuing other opportunities, my family and I have been presented with an extraordinary opportunity, to lead Central Michigan University, which is a national research caliber university. As these opportunities are rare in the offering, this is something that I could not decline."
“On behalf of the Board of Regents, I want to thank President Davies for his leadership, service and commitment to our student-centered vision at Murray State University over the past four years,” said Susan Guess, board chairwoman. “Together, we have celebrated many accomplishments and faced challenges head on. We wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors.”
"We will move quickly to name an interim President to ensure a seamless transition and will begin the process of a national search in the near future," said Guess.
Davies has served as Murray State’s 13th president since 2014. Prior to MSU, he served as President of Eastern Oregon University.
He joined Murray State amidst several rounds of budget cuts and saw little relief during his tenure due to periods of declining enrollment and state appropriations coupled with rising pension obligations. Davies warned in April that Murray State and higher education are becoming privatized, meaning increasingly reliant on enrollment and tuition revenue.
Davies’ departure follows other high-level university officials: Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Fred Dietz left last spring for Midwestern State University in Texas and Director of Athletics Allen Ward left last month for Abilene Christian University in Texas.
During Davies’ time at Murray State, the university implemented new academic admission standards, completed new buildings including the Breathitt Veterinary Center and the Engineering and Physics Building and navigated through ongoing financial challenges.
In June, then-MSU Regent Board Chair Stephen Williams read Davies’ four-year review, which WKMS later independently obtained. He credited Davies for the recruitment of a new provost, his engagement with students and the completion of facilities on campus. The board also commended Davies on his campus engagement, defining and communicating a more distinctive identity for Murray State.
The board tasked Davies to find ways to increase revenue in the wake of a decline in enrollment. The board also tasked Davies with enhancing transparency with internal constituencies, reallocating his time to focus on enrollment and “address perceptions of his administrative and/or personal style including broadening his inner circle of advisers, use of social media, presidential demeanor, decisiveness and clarity of messaging.”
As a result, Davies formed a Special Commission on Enrollment Management to complete an analysis of admissions policies, process and procedures. This committee is expected to present their report at the August BOR retreat. Davies was also tasked with finding a new Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services. That search ultimately ended without Davies making a permanent selection.
Murray State’s former Interim Chief Facilities Officer David Burdette, who died last January, had served as Central Michigan University’s former Vice President of Finance Administration before joining MSU shortly after Davies began.
This post has been updated to include Davies' start date, comments from CMU Board Vice Chair Tricia Keith, a quote from Davies' letter to the MSU campus community and from Board of Regents chair Susan Guess.