The Murray State Board of Regents has approved interim president Bob Jackson as the university’s 14th president. Regents voted on Friday nine to two.
Jackson’s contract is effective Friday for four years with a salary of $325,000. He was appointed interim president in August following the departure of Bob Davies, who took a position at Central Michigan University. Jackson previously served as president of the Murray State University Foundation.
Student Regent J.T. Payne put forward the motion to approve Jackson’s contract as president. He previously had been the lone dissenter in appointing Jackson as interim. In Payne’s motion on Friday, he said he learned “a significant amount” serving on the board and working with Jackson.
Regents Lisa Rudolph and Sharon Green cast the dissenting votes on Friday. They took issue with the board allowing Jackson to bypass the traditional search process and said their ‘no’ votes were not due to the individual. Rudolph was chair of the presidential search committee. She said there were 32 candidates and several ranked as “tier one.” She said she didn’t feel the board acted responsibly in “jumping the process” abandoning the search. Green criticized a previous board vote that allowed Jackson to bypass the search process and be made a finalist.
In support for Jackson, Regent Jerry Rhoads said it’s “rare and unprecedented” to have an individual who can demonstrate their abilities and potential in the seven months serving as interim. He said there has never been a president in the history of the university who has had such an outpouring of support. Among notable endorsements, Jackson was publicly supported by the Foundation, which he previously served; former regent chairs Stephen Williams, Harry Lee Waterfield and Alan Stout; the West KY Educational Cooperative and Community Financial Services Bank (CFSB). Regent Dan Kemp said he believes Jackson’s appointment is in the best interest of the university. Kemp said he’s been ‘interviewing’ for the job over the past seven months “and I think he has passed that test with flying colors.”
Jackson said he’s “honored” to serve and hopes differences can be set aside to move the university forward. He said work includes recruitment, deferred maintenance and spreading Murray State’s image. He has said increasing enrollment and “right sizing” the university are top priorities.
Murray State faculty and staff have expressed a desire for a president with roots at the university and who understands the region. Students outlined high expectations for the next president, expressing concern for the quality of student life and various improvements they say are needed.