Despite $25 million in recent budget cuts, and rollbacks in staff employment and program offerings, Eastern Kentucky University remains committed to its service region and is the No. 1 choice for students in eastern Kentucky.
That was the message Monday from David McFaddin, Vice President of Engagement, Regional Stewardship and Government Relations at Eastern Kentucky University. He spoke Tuesday in Corbin at the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce monthly membership luncheon.
McFaddin said that while budgetary realities did mean elimination of some jobs, programs and learning sites — most notably the university’s center in Danville — EKU is deeply rooted in the tri-county area and plans to maintain its Corbin campus.
“We are glad we are still here in this community,” McFaddin said. “We are committed to this community and southeast Kentucky. This is one of our strongest enrollment areas.”
Indeed, McFaddin noted that EKU has 1,217 students from the tri-county area, and around 17,000 students overall.
EKU is heavily geared toward in-state students. About 91 percent of the university’s student population is from Kentucky.
Forty percent of students who attend EKU are the first in their family to go to college.
“That is an amazing statistic for 2018,” McFaddin said. “It is the trajectory of change for not only them, but their families and children, and children to come after that.”
He added that obtaining a post-secondary degree typically makes people more involved in their communities, better citizens, more likely to volunteer, healthier and enable them to earn more money.
“It’s really heartwarming to go to graduation and see those students stand up and be recognized,” McFaddin said.
The school’s four-year graduation rate has doubled since 2006, up to 30 percent from just 15 percent.
EKU works with about 6,000 employers annually to place its students in valuable internships and practicums.
McFaddin noted that EKU is proud that it is the No. 1 school of choice in Kentucky for veterans and has over 1,500 military veterans attending as students.
He also spoke about EKU’s popular, and recognized, criminal justice program and aviation program — the only FAA certified university aviation program in Kentucky.
McFaddin said EKU is constantly looking for ways to meet the needs of today’s employers and students, and has steadily been building its online classes to go along with the university’s satellite campuses spread across the region.
“We are committed to your region because it is the right thing to do,” he said.
“We stand ready to be a good partner.”
At the end of the luncheon, chamber President Mike Sharpe recognized new chamber members. Door prizes were also given.