EKU President Outlines Priorities During Convocation

Aug 18, 2015

Credit John Hingsbergen / WEKU News

Eastern Kentucky University President Michael Benson Tuesday spelled out academic, facility, and campus lifestyle priorities for the Richmond school.  Benson’s thoughts came during the annual convocation at the EKU Center for the Arts.

While there is sizable interest in upgrading campus facilities, money is also being set aside to help EKU professors through faculty scholarships.  The last question of the 90 minute session focused on faculty salaries.   Alice Jones, a professor of geoscience, says in her 18 years at Eastern, there’s been a suppression of faculty pay.  “We need to be aware that if we want to be an institution of distinction, that we need to be competitive with other institutions in the United States,” said Jones.

President Benson says there are different pots of money set aside for facility upgrades and employee pay.  “We have to be good stewards of our budget and see if we have enough to make that increase whether it’s a cost of living increase or a third phase of IPEP,” said Benson.

Benson was referring to the Internal Pay Equity Program. Beginning this year, Benson says he plans to hold ‘fireside chats’ with faculty.  Some 25 such sessions have been scheduled this year.

Some $200,000 are being set aside to support a faculty scholarship program at Eastern Kentucky University.  Eastern Associate Vice President for Research Jerry Pogatshnik says the university has been somewhat limited in the types of resources offered to assist faculty.  Pogatshnik says EKU has offered scholarships for travel to conference and professional meetings. He says EKU would like to help faculty "get time to develop ideas into grant proposals that could benefit the university and students in other ways, and bring in additional revenue and additional funds to the university.” .

The Richmond school is moving forward with plans to upgrade housing, student union, and athletic facilities.  Benson says next on the agenda is building a new Model Lab School and College of Education building.  The president will be in Frankfort Wednesday making a pitch for funding to state lawmakers. ​