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Contributors EKU Magazine is a collaborative effort between EKU Alumni Engagement and EKU Communications and Brand Management.


EKU President David T. McFaddin, ’99 ’15 Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement Betina Gardner

Check out the Alumni Spotlight Series

Assistant Vice President, Communications and Brand Management Doug Cornett

by visiting alumni.eku.edu/spotlight to hear the great stories of fellow Eternal Colonels!

Staff Photographer Carsen Bryant, ’19 Photography Amanda J. Cain Kevin Huver Chris Radcliffe, ’04 Staff Writers Katie Adkins Lanny Brannock, ’99 Kevin Britton, ’00 ’11 Madison Caplinger, ’19 Steven Fohl, ’07 ’12 Elise G. Russell, ’06 Jerry Wallace Margaret Muncy Willingham, ’80 Editorial Director, Brand Management; Managing Editor Brandon Moore, ’14 Design and Layout Art Director/ Senior Graphic Designer Mickey Thomas Graphic Designer Ashley Reaves, ’19 Design Management Jessica Holly

Eastern Kentucky University


521 Lancaster Ave. Richmond, KY 40475-3102

Alumni Engagement Staff Associate Vice President of Development and Alumni Engagement Dan McBride, ’89 Senior Director for Engagement and Communications Steve Greenwell, ’06 Assistant Director of Engagement and Communications Alex Hanavan, ’15 ’17 Coordinator of Alumni Programming and Student Philanthropy Ashley Turner, ’19 Administrative Assistant II, Alumni Engagement Jessica Duerson International Alumni Association Board President Amy Jo Smith Gabel, ’05 ’08 Vice President Ray Arnold, ’09 ’13 Secretary; Chair, Development Allison Allgier, ’92 Board Members: Joe Bentley, ’82 ’88; Rodney Bussell, ’95; Tichaedza Chikuni, ’05 ’11; Mikayla Courtney, ’19; Chris Eden, ’09; Kelvin Ford, ’93; Doug Hampton, ’71; Roger Hardin, ’75; Allison Helsinger, ’07; Kenna Middleton, ’79 ’81; Alvin Miller, ’81; Lori Murphy-Tatum, ’99; Iddah Otieno, ’01; Chris Radcliffe, ’04 ’12; Tom Reeves, ’99 ’02; Lucy Riffle, ’77; Liz Ross, ’86; Laura Rudolph, ’08; Ashley Shofner, ’21; Gracie Staude, ’22; Bob Sullivan, ’72; Lelani Turrentine, ’71; Randy White, ’90

Visit us online:

eku.edu campaign.eku.edu stories.eku.edu alumni.eku.edu development.eku.edu

Eastern Kentucky University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer and educational institution and does not discriminate on the basis of age (40 and over), race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, ethnicity, disability, national origin, veteran status, or genetic information in the admission to, or participation in, any educational program or activity (e.g., athletics, academics and housing) which it conducts, or in any employment policy or practice. Any complaint arising by reason of alleged discrimination should be directed to the Office of Equity and Inclusion, Eastern Kentucky University, Jones Building 416, Richmond, Kentucky 40475, (859) 622-8020, or the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202, 1 (800) 421-3481 (V), 1 (800) 877-8339 (TTY).

SP 2021 –—— CONT E N T S ——––


A Letter from President David T. McFaddin



EKU Stories



A Wild and Purposeful Endeavor Veronica Seawall, ’16, Lives Out her Passion and Dream as a Zookeeper



Close-Knit Community and Fiber Connectivity High-Speed Internet Provides Educational Access and Economic Opportunity in Rural Kentucky Town



The Art of Collaboration The Institute for Creative and Collaborative Arts Offers a New Approach for Fine Arts and Communication Education



Good and Noble Work Alumnus McFaddin Turns Opportunity into Presidency



From Postcards to Hashtags


Unpacking the Oppression of Black Lives through Conversations on Racism, Resistance and Reconciliation



The New Campus Beautiful Uniting Colonels — Together, Apart



EKU Athletics




Alumni News

–———––­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­–—— On our Cover : Dr. David T. McFaddin, Kentucky native and EKU graduate, was appointed 14th president of Eastern Kentucky University in August. Read more about President McFaddin’s background and vision for EKU on page 22. (Photo by Chris Radcliffe, ’04)






Throughout my life I’ve heard it said time and time again that “hard work is the good work that gets the job done.” This simple adage has been a guidepost for me on a journey to the pinnacle of my career as president of my alma mater. I believe it continues to hold true for me and for all of us as we innovate and create more opportunities for students at Eastern Kentucky University. This pandemic has proven challenging to navigate and has brought much uncertainty. I’m proud to say that through it all, we have found opportunities and innovations we might otherwise have not embraced. Overcoming adversity will only lead to greater rewards for Eastern Kentucky University and our students as we move forward together. As the institution that leads all others in powering our Kentucky communities with outstanding graduates, we are no strangers to hard work, perseverance and determination. I will always be grounded in my life experiences from growing up in far-eastern Kentucky. In the foothills of Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains is where I began to embrace these values and where my leadership skills began to take shape. From those beginnings, I feel incredibly blessed and honored to serve as Eastern’s 14th president. I came to EKU as an eager 18-year-old freshman in the 90s — the first in my family to pursue a college degree. Years later, I returned to EKU as a doctoral student, adjunct faculty member and administrator. I set out with goals and worked hard to achieve them. But my resolve doesn’t stop here. My commitment to helping students advance themselves and to the Commonwealth remains deeply rooted. As I’ve witnessed in my own life, education lays the foundation for change and progress. And just as important, our graduates fill critical roles as teachers, healthcare workers, business professionals and many other influential roles in communities across the Commonwealth and beyond. The foundational pillar of EKU’s mission as a School of Opportunity has directed us toward the development of bold and innovative initiatives designed to keep education accessible

2 SPRING 2021

and affordable for all those who seek it. In the face of several societal challenges over the past year, our role in offering educational opportunity has never been more significant. We’re exploring every possible avenue to eliminate barriers on a student’s path to a college degree. Our new EKU BookSmart program, a first for a Kentucky public university, will provide free textbooks for all undergraduate students in Fall 2021. This initiative is part of what we call the EKU Advantage, and it includes several other incentives, such as new scholarships, waived application fees and expanded online course offerings. My EKU experience has given me so much, a sentiment most alumni share. As an alum, talking about my beloved alma mater comes natural. It’s our engagement and those positive testimonies that continue to offer the most effective recruitment strategy. I ask you to join me in sharing the good news about EKU and our commitment to students, the Commonwealth and the world. You’ll read more about my background in a feature on page 22. While the pandemic has prevented face-to-face communication, I look forward to engaging and connecting with you, my fellow alumni. As One Eastern, we will continue the hard work together, to do good for the future of our world and our EKU. After all, that’s what Colonels do! One Eastern,

David T. McFaddin President, Eastern Kentucky University



EKU LAUNCHES NEW ENROLLMENT INITIATIVES CALLED THE EKU ADVANTAGE In a bold effort to keep higher education affordable and accessible, Eastern Kentucky University implemented the EKU Advantage – a series of enrollment-focused incentives. Initial components of the EKU Advantage

EKU Launches New Enrollment Initiatives Called The EKU Advantage ———— • ————

Divine Nine Plaza to Locate in Carloftis Gardens ———— • ————

Mekonnen Breaks Barriers in SGA ———— • ————

Record EKU Foundation Scholarships Power Opportunity ———— • ————

New Solar Farm to Power EKU ———— • ————

EKU’s COVID -19 Response, by the Numbers ———— • ————

Memorial Bench Honors Alumnus ———— • ————

Student-Conducted Veteran Interviews Available through Berge Oral History Center CORRECTIONS: For the Fall 2020 issue, Dr. Robert R. Martin was EKU’s seventh president, not the eighth as was listed; and on page 20 in the first photo, Suzanne Fawbush is pictured on the right, not center as was stated in the caption.

Stock photography and illustrations used in “From Postcards to Hashtags,” this issue: PEXELS.COM: Vlad Chețan, Santiago Manuel de la Colina, Eva Elijas, JackQ, ksushsh, Mihir Koral, Pixabay, Rodion, Kutsaev, Romeo Mike, Romka, Tim Mossholder. iSTOCKPHOTO.COM: Kirkchai Benjarusameeros, Diversity Studio, illionaire, Issaurinko, Peeterv, Irfan Quader, Sohadiszno, subinpumsom, wayne10810. UNSPLASH.COM: JonTyson-Ziuo.

4 SPRING 2021

included waiving the application fee, waiving the standardized test score requirement for admissions and expanding online course offerings. Additionally, the University froze tuition, fees and room and board rates for the 2020-21 academic year. Recent additions to the EKU Advantage include a new scholarship model and rewarding incoming Kentucky students for their high school achievements. Scholarships range from $1,000 up to the full in-state tuition amount. EKU BookSmart will also provide free textbooks for all EKU undergraduate students, either on campus or online. Beginning in Fall 2021, this is a program unique among state universities in Kentucky. “With the addition of free textbooks to the EKU Advantage, a college degree from EKU is now more accessible and affordable than it has been in many years,” EKU President Dr. David McFaddin said. “We are investing in our students so they will be prepared to succeed when their classes begin.” Learn more about the EKU Advantage at advantage.eku.edu.

Andrew “Champ” Page, ’92

MEKONNEN BREAKS BARRIERS IN SGA Eastern Kentucky University’s student body president, Eyouel Mekonnen came to Kentucky from Ethiopia in 2016 and is the first international student ever elected to the position. He is also the first Black student body president EKU has seen in more than 40 years. “It reminds me every single day that we can’t wait another 40 years. We have to set up systems of excellence and programs that help our underpopulated students to succeed,” he said. Mekonnen said he has dreamed of becoming president since his first year at EKU when the Student Government Association (SGA) booth captured his interest. He ran for and won a seat as a student senator and worked his way up from there. During his sophomore and junior years, he served as SGA’s director of diversity. Mekonnen is a senior English and political science major and plans to graduate in May. Read more about Mekonnen’s experience at EKU on page 28.

DIVINE NINE PLAZA TO LOCATE IN CARLOFTIS GARDENS Groundbreaking ceremonies were held recently for the NPHC Divine Nine Plaza in EKU’s Carloftis Gardens. The Plaza recognizes the nine historically African American Greeklettered, service-based fraternities and sororities under the umbrella of the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC). “The National Pan-Hellenic Council truly plays a valuable role in creating a sense of belonging for marginalized students,” said Dr. Dannie Moore, vice president for strategic initiatives and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at EKU. “These monuments will represent the organization’s presence on campus and will serve as a gathering place for alumni and current students to come together, celebrate and reflect on their NPHC experiences at EKU.” Alumni and current students worked with campus leadership to plan the Plaza. “This idea was in the works prior to my arrival at EKU,” Moore said, “(but) as a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, I was excited to assist with moving this project to completion.” NPHC sororities at EKU are Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta, while NPHC fraternities at Eastern are Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi and Phi Beta Sigma.


RECORD EKU FOUNDATION SCHOLARSHIPS POWER OPPORTUNITY Eastern Kentucky University is delivering on its promise as a School of Opportunity, with a record number of its students utilizing EKU Foundation scholarships to pursue their educational dreams. This past fiscal year, at a time when many students and families have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University awarded 1,797 Foundation scholarships valued at $1,303,360 and eclipsing the previous records, both of which were set the previous year. Betina Gardner, vice president for university development and alumni engagement and executive director of the EKU Foundation, attributed this achievement to “enrollment growth, an easier application process, a collaborative effort from our partners from all over campus to deliver on our promise as a School of Opportunity, and the performance of the endowment and the dedicated staff who oversee the awarding of the scholarships. Foundation scholarships are unique, and there is much care and attention that goes into matching deserving students with a donor’s intent.” For more information about supporting student scholarships at EKU, please visit development.eku.edu.

Junior accounting major Holly Carter, a recipient of the Jeri L. Isbell Non-Endowed Scholarship.

NEW SOLAR FARM TO POWER EKU Starshine Energy has partnered with the University to build a solar farm on campus. It will provide energy for the EKU electrical grid and research opportunities for EKU students. “I think it’s important that universities lead in learning how to use alternative energy — that’s the reason for the solar farm at EKU,” said alumnus Gary Booth, ’62, owner of Starshine Energy. “In addition to the research opportunities for students, this array is expected to generate more than 450,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually — enough to power 40 houses — and will reduce EKU’s greenhouse gas emissions by over 300 metric tons each year,” said Dr. Judy Jenkins, associate professor of chemistry at EKU, who helped lead this and other solar projects on campus. “Plus, this is the largest solar panel array at any public college or university in Kentucky, demonstrating Eastern’s ongoing leadership in renewable energy.” The solar farm is adjacent to Kit Carson Commons, a housing complex that is currently under construction. Located near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Kit Carson Drive, it will house single-parent families.

6 SPRING 2021

EKU’S COVID-19 RESPONSE, BY THE NUMBERS Eastern Kentucky University responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with

distancing. More than 19 contact tracers diligently reached out to

planning, communication, adaptation and lots of hand sanitizer —

students, faculty and staff. EKU Housing dedicated more than 104 rooms

1,535 bottles to be exact! Last spring, a task force comprised of more

for quarantine, and in partnership with Aramark Dining, provided and

than 75 members was assembled to develop a plan to safely open campus

delivered more than 9,000 meals to students in quarantine.

to students in the 2020-21 academic year.

“Because of the exceptional planning and successful execution of

In preparation for the Fall 2020 semester, EKU procured 105,000

strategies, we had zero reports of transmission within our classrooms,

disposable face coverings and 15,582 cloth face coverings for

university structured activities and university events,” for the Fall semester

distribution. Facilities Management posted 9,150 signs, installed 509

reported Bryan Makinen, chair of EKU’s COVID-19 Task Force.

Plexiglass shields, and placed hand sanitizer and wipes around campus.

In addition to the development and implementation of protocols for fall,

When classes started in August, 91 Colonel Care coordinators around

EKU offered free COVID-19 testing for students prior to the beginning

campus reminded students to wear face coverings and practice social

of the Spring semester.


STUDENT-CONDUCTED VETERAN INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE THROUGH BERGE ORAL HISTORY CENTER More than 300 veteran interviews are now available to the public through EKU’s William H. Berge Oral History Center. This collection will continue to grow as hundreds of students facilitate audio-recorded interviews with veterans each year in EKU’s Introduction to Veterans Studies course (VTS 200). EKU’s Veterans Studies (VTS) program is the nation’s first academic program designed to teach students about the unique identities, cultures and experiences of members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Students taking VTS 200, either on campus or online, go out in their communities and interview veterans. Through the interviews, students have the opportunity to engage with and document the unique stories and perspectives of these veterans.


“Each veteran is unique,” said Dr. Travis Martin, creator of the Veterans Studies program. “And the consensus seems to be – among researchers and veterans alike – that the best way to learn about veterans is to listen to what they have to say.” To explore the collection of veteran interviews, visit oralhistory.eku.edu. Search

One of EKU’s most distinguished military alumni

“veterans’’ in the search bar at the top of the page, then select “Veterans Studies Project’’

was honored with a memorial bench at EKU’s

to view the full collection.

Veterans Memorial, located in the Powell Plaza, on Nov. 7. Col. (Ret.) Ralph E. Newman, ROTC Class of 1962, began his military career in the Kentucky National Guard in 1956. In 1962, he was commissioned as an infantry officer through the Army ROTC Program at EKU. Col. Newman retired from military service in 1992. Following his retirement, Col. Newman’s second career was to educate, mold and inspire many young men and women in the Grayson West Carter and East Carter Junior ROTC, which he established. He was a charter member of the EKU ROTC Alumni Chapter and served as chapter president for three years. In 2000, Col. Newman was selected as the ROTC Distinguished Alum, and in 2013 he was inducted into EKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni. As the University’s most prestigious honor, it is reserved for those who maintain excellence in their chosen fields and in their service to society. Col. Newman passed in 2019. The unveiling of the bench by his wife, Sandra, and his granddaughter Randa McGuire, was preceded by a ceremony in the Meditation Chapel and attended by many of his classmates and friends.

8 SPRING 2021

One Day. One Goal. Join us on April 14 for EKU Giving Day! Will you join Eastern’s alumni and friends from all around the country and help us reach the goal of 1,000 donors in 24 hours? Every dollar makes a difference for Eastern’s students. Your support will help fund scholarships that

make education more affordable, meet basic needs through the Student Assistance Fund for Eastern (SAFE), feed students through the Colonel’s Cupboard, provide important educational opportunities through college greatest needs funds, and so much more.

go.eku.edu/givingday @EKUAlums l 859-622-GIVE l #GiveBigE

wild and purposeful VERONICA SEAWALL, ’16, LIVES OUT HER PASSION AND DREAM AS A ZOOKEEPER A day for Veronica Seawall, ’16, consists of training Poppy, a porcupine, preparing him for interactive educational programming; caring for an “extremely intelligent and very observant” parrot named Bailey; and encouraging natural behaviors from Turnip, an “incredibly rambunctious and curious” skunk; among other constantly changing and unpredictable responsibilities. With an animal studies degree from EKU, Seawall is a zookeeper

actually want to encourage from them at the zoo.” As an example,

at John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She serves as a bird

she mentioned Turnip, the skunk. Seawall provides enrichment

keeper, caring for various parrot species, toucans, flamingos, birds

opportunities by figuring out “how we can hide her food to

of prey and more. She’s also the keeper for ambassador animals,

increase foraging or what we can give her in her environment

“basically any animal that is trained specifically to come out and

that she can manipulate and work on throughout the day.”

spend time with people, so that people can learn a little more about the species as a whole,” she explained.

From an early age, Seawall knew she wanted a career involving animals and nature. Her mom, a career coach, and her dad

While a zookeeper position generally involves lots of cleaning,

always encouraged and supported her in pursuing opportunities

she most enjoys the aspects of animal training and behavioral

and activities appealing to her interests. In high school, Seawall

enrichment. “Animals at the zoo have a large number of natural

spent her summers volunteering at Brookfield Zoo in Chicago —

behaviors that they would be doing in the wild, and that we

an experience solidifying her desire to become a zookeeper.


With her career goals in mind, she came from Chicago to Kentucky

Ohio. Her education again took her around the world to new places,

for EKU’s new animal studies program in 2012.

including Belize, Brazil and Borneo, this time studying rainforest


ecology and palm oil sustainability.


Having a degree program that actively encouraged

this passion for conservation and for animals was refreshing to me,” Seawall said. “It communicated to me ‘it’s OK to follow your dreams.’



At EKU, her studies took her to Florida for field research at the Lemur Conservation Foundation as well as a mini field course studying elephants at Busch Gardens, to the Bahamas to participate in dolphin research, and across the globe to Australia for an internship at the Cairns Tropical Zoo.

For Seawall, her dedication to animals and conservation extend beyond the work day and represent a way of life. She comes home from the zoo each day to care for five animals of her own — a cat, dog, frog, lizard and bird. Seawall also continues to advocate for palm oil sustainability, encouraging consumers to purchase products from companies committed to producing palm oil in a sustainable manner. She recently spoke about the issue on a podcast and published an article in “Wild Hope” magazine. As a young professional, she says, “I still have a lot more to learn.” Seawall embraces opportunities to learn from more experienced professionals, but also wants to be a resource for interns and volunteers exploring the career field. “I’m now in a place, where looking back 10 years ago, I

After graduation, she landed her first permanent zookeeping position

don’t think it would have been possible had I not taken that opportunity

at Cosley Zoo in Wheaton, Illinois. Simultaneously, she went after a

to go to EKU,” she said. “It provided so many opportunities and opened

master’s degree in conservation biology through Miami University in

so many doors for me. I’m pretty lucky to say I’m doing what I love.” n

12 SPRING 2021

THE EKU ADVANTAGE Known as the School of Opportunity for more than a century, EKU’s commitment to keeping education affordable remains strong. Now with the EKU Advantage, students have even more opportunities to help them on their path to achieving a college degree.

— FREE Textbooks —

With EKU BookSmart, coming Fall 2021, textbooks are free for all undergraduate students at EKU.

— New Scholarships —

Ranging from $1,000 to the full in-state tuition amount, EKU’s merit scholarships reward students for high school achievement.

— No Application Fee —

Forget the application fee – both undergraduate and graduate application fees are now automatically waived.

See more of the EKU Advantage at advantage.eku.edu



When the COVID-19 pandemic reached the United States just over one year ago, millions of children stayed home for virtual school. The sudden change presented many new challenges for families, one of the most widespread and significant being reliable internet access. Across rural America, families continue to struggle to get

extracurricular activities. Although Roark’s kids miss their friends

quality and affordable internet access, but not in McKee,

and the interaction of in-person school, the internet access

Kentucky, a town of less than 1,000 people. Located in Jackson

provided by PRTC made the transition to virtual learning more

County and just over 30 miles southeast of Richmond, McKee

manageable for the family.

proudly boasts high-speed internet, available at every dwelling in the county.

Roark’s youngest, Anna Grace, competes on the academic team virtually and interacts with her friends daily using FaceTime.

“I’m a native here, and I’ve heard all my life about all the things we

Roark also said her family still participates in church services

don’t have in Jackson and Owsley counties,” said Keith Gabbard,

through live streaming since they’ve not been able to attend in

’76, CEO of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative (PRTC) in

person during the pandemic.

McKee. “We don’t have a college, or a four-lane highway, or a hospital, or a McDonald’s or a Wal-Mart. But we’ve got this awesome broadband.”

“We are truly blessed to have had this internet access during this time, not only for my children’s education but we have another special reason right now,” Roark said. Her nephew was

A local resident, Misty Roark, works as a deputy clerk at the Jackson

diagnosed with cancer in August, and his twin brother has been

County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office and has three children —

staying with them. “So we have had four kids in this house on

two high schoolers and a middle schooler. Pre-pandemic, Roark

virtual learning. And because of the internet, 10-year-old twins

said her family “was used to being on the go” with school and

have got to FaceTime and play games with each other daily.”

OPPOSITE: Keith Gabbard, ‘76, CEO of Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative








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High-speed internet has brought more to McKee’s local community than just educational access during the pandemic. It has impacted

a network as anybody in the country.” Under Gabbard’s leadership, PRTC

economic development, allowing for remote employment opportunities

installed fiber optic cable for gigabit-capable internet access to every

and improved healthcare availability. In another first-of-its-kind

home and business in Jackson and Owsley counties — ­­ a first-of-its-kind

initiative, PRTC partnered with the local library and the Lexington

initiative for rural Kentucky and one of the first in rural America.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center to provide telemedicine to veterans

A mule named Old Bub pulled some of the cable through the mountainous

through the Virtual Living Room project.

regions of the counties during the height of the upgrade project about

“There are things we’d like to have that we don’t, but having this great broadband levels the playing field for a lot of folks,” Gabbard said. “This is one way we can help.”

is among the construction crews continuing to build out the network as

Connected with fiber cable, the close-knit community of McKee,

PRTC works to expand the fiber network to more counties throughout

Kentucky, is changing the standard for rural living. Many of the local

Eastern Kentucky.

families wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. n

16 SPRING 2021



infrastructure and wanted the people in his community “to have as good

by musician and Appalachia-native Brett Ratliff. Now a local Amish family



Johnson City

More than a decade ago, Gabbard saw the need to upgrade PRTC’s

national attention for his labor — a song was even written about him



CLOCKWISE, FROM ABOVE: The old Jackson County Courthouse in McKee, Kentucky. Misty Roark and her three children, in high school and middle school, rely on the high-speed internet from PRTC for virtual learning.

10 years ago. Old Bub covered two to three miles per day and received


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Mount Carmel


Morristown Jefferson City

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70 Hawkins




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Honor those who came before. Lessen the financial hardship of those who come afterward.

Establishing A Legacy Motivated by the influence of his parents and brothers to “accomplish something through the channels of education,” Dr. Stuart Tobin, dermatologist, Army veteran and author, established a scholarship at EKU to honor his family’s memory — the Louis, Eleanor, Edward and Morris Tobin Memorial Scholarship. Tobin acknowledges education as the key to unlocking many doors in his own life. With a planned gift in support of his family scholarship, Tobin ensures that a legacy of encouraging educational pursuits will continue to aid future generations of students. A legacy, Tobin explained, is “what you leave behind that leaves some sort of history or mark, maybe in the most minor way, but nonetheless, that you did something in your community, your country and in the world that made a positive difference for other people.”


A planned or estate gift allows you to create your legacy, or honor those who impacted your life, through the perpetuity of education for EKU students. Planned gifts provide financial flexibility, tax benefits, and use for funds that might otherwise be lost to estate, capital gains or income taxes.

Ways to Give


Bequests from Wills • Charitable Gift Annuities • Qualified Retirement Plans Life Insurance and Annuity Contracts • Charitable Remainder Trusts Retained Life Estates • Stocks and Securities


Learn More: eku.giftplans.org Or contact Melinda A. Murphy, director of gift and estate planning melinda.murphy@eku.edu | 859-622-8090

Kara Holbrook, public relations major OPPOSITE: Alejandra Emmanuelli, art major

THE ART OF THE INSTITUTE FOR CREATIVE AND COLLABORATIVE ARTS OFFERS A NEW APPROACH FOR FINE ARTS AND COMMUNICATION EDUCATION Art majors design face masks for the marching band during the COVID-19 pandemic. Broadcasting and electronic media students produce promotional videos about art, communication, design and music programs at EKU. For music performances, public relations students provide publicity, and graphic design students create the promotional materials. These examples only begin to touch on the opportunities and possibilities

We’re bringing together the fine and performing arts, but also integrating

emerging from EKU’s new Institute for Creative and Collaborative Arts.

the communication-based disciplines.”

In a creative yet practical strategy, art, communication, design and music

The idea for the Institute sparked from the Music Department’s PRISM

are integrated together as The Institute for Creative and Collaborative Arts.

concert during Homecoming a few years ago. The concert featured a series

Although the academic programs, curricula and their respective faculty

of three- to five-minute performances produced by students of music and

haven’t changed, the new Institute facilitates a synchronistic relationship

theater in a collaborative effort. Additionally, English students conducted

among students and faculty in art, communication, design and music.

poetry readings, and art students showcased exhibitions. The collaborative

It also affords more efficient, streamlined administrative functions.

effort for the concert went so well, Zeigler said, “We started talking about,

“We’ve been able to take areas of strength that we already had and combine

what can we do to build on this?”

them into one larger unit that I think will be greater than the sum of its

In the process of developing a new master’s program in instructional

parts,” said Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences Dr. Sara

design, slated for Fall 2021, Zeigler clearly saw an opportunity for

Zeigler. “As others may be cutting arts, we want to build in that area.

bringing together the arts and communications disciplines and how

18 SPRING 2021

, We ve been able to ta ke areas of strength that we already had and combine them into one larger unit that I think will be greater than the sum of its parts, said Dean of the College of Letters, Arts,and Social Sciences Dr. Sara Zeigler. “As others may be cutting arts,we want to build in that area. we,re bringing together the fine and performing arts,but also integrating the communication

thanks to the Institute,students will graduate with experience collaborating with artists, communicators, designers a nd musicians,and have relevant projects in their portfolios to showcase those experiences. As a resu lt of the inclusive lea rning environment, students a re also discovering new interests and taking courses in a reas , they hadn t thoug ht to take before,further strengthening their skill sets and marketability. 20 SPRING 2021

such a move would only enhance the overall educational experience for students. The vision for a collaborative model to benefit students and faculty alike took shape as a unit within the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences. The Institute for Creative and Collaborative Arts launched last summer, with Art and Design Professor Ida Kumoji-Ankrah as its executive director. Collaboration lies at the heart of the Institute — even its name was conceived and chosen by faculty and students from art, communication, design and music. With the structure of the Institute in place, Kumoji-Ankrah said they’re now working on developing a brand and facilitating new opportunities for faculty to work together. Naturally, collaborative programs have fallen into place as faculty communicate with each other more often. Already, she’s seen students and faculty take advantage of the resources available within the Institute, as demonstrated by the marching band masks project and promotional video examples previously mentioned. She expects more of these types of projects to take place as faculty and students learn about each other’s areas of expertise. “When everyone comes together, we see our strength in the different media forms that we do,” Kumoji-Ankrah said. Furthermore, the unique model provides a reflection of what the workplace often looks like for graduates and offers valuable experience for students. “We have an opportunity to let our students know that when they’re out in the real world, they’re going to be working in an environment where all these units play a role,” Kumoji-Ankrah said. As an example, she said if a student wants to pursue a career in animation, they’ll need more than just the design education – they’ll need to collaborate as part of a team with art, sound, broadcasting and communication. While they wouldn’t necessarily need high levels of expertise in each of these areas, having a well-rounded background in working across disciplines makes students more marketable to employers and helps them to be successful in their careers. Thanks to the Institute, students will graduate with experience collaborating with artists, communicators, designers and musicians, and have relevant projects in their portfolios to showcase those experiences. As a result of the inclusive learning environment, students are also discovering new interests and taking courses in areas they hadn’t thought to take before, further strengthening their skill sets and marketability. In the future, Kumoji-Ankrah would like to pursue grant funding opportunities to grow the Institute, increase its enrollment, develop additional academic programs and create projects to showcase the Institute both on and off campus. Additionally, Zeigler envisions more engagement and outreach to high schools within EKU’s service region for the Institute moving forward. “The purpose of this Institute is to support, cultivate and promote collaboration across disciplines,” Kumoji-Ankrah said. “By providing the space for opportunities and programming for students, faculty and staff to engage, this will be a place to create, and learn, and problem solve, and build lifelong relationships.” n

Caroline Geyer, music major BELOW: Aric Young, art major OPPOSITE: Andria Banker, art major


It’s a cold January afternoon and Eastern Kentucky University’s President Dr. David McFaddin is walking down memory lane in the halls of Johnson Central High School as a photographer sets up lighting for a photo. What was supposed to be a quick photo shoot is now an unofficial tour that ends in front of the Johnson Central High School Hall of Fame plaque wall, where McFaddin learns casually from head principal Noel Crum that he is soon to be the newest member. “That’s amazing!” McFaddin, smiling, says upon hearing the news. He means it. He knows that he could just have easily not been enshrined on that wall with other alumni, administrators, some close friends and the occasional hometown heroes. It was a step of faith for him to leave his hometown and establish new roots in Richmond, the town of his alma mater, as it is for anyone who leaves the comfort of home. There is a palpable pride that beams like the first peek of sun over a mountaintop in the smiles of the eastern Kentucky residents when they talk about the “good ones,” the ones who have done something big — those who have committed themselves to something this community believes to be honorable. Something important. It’s reverence. It shouts “they came from where I came from. They played on the same railroad tracks, went to the same events, fished the same fishing holes and walked the same hallways I did.” It is McFaddin and those like him who inspire hope in people who come from a place where hope hasn’t been in big supply since the coal trains that ran past McFaddin’s childhood home mostly stopped. “I had the river on one side and the train track on the other, and train after train of coal was taken out of here,” McFaddin said of his upbringing

22 SPRING 2021

McFaddin at the Old Swinging Bridge in his hometown of Paintsville, Kentucky.

McFaddin in his high school’s gymnasium at Johnson Central High School. BELOW: McFaddin and his wife, Melissa, at the Jenny Wiley Amphitheatre in Prestonsburg, Kentucky, where they first met in 1997.

in his parents’ modest home in Thelma. “He (Dad) was a second generation ‘bellhead’ (working for Bell Telephone, which later became AT&T), and I was the third when I joined,” McFaddin said. His parents were in their early 20s when McFaddin was born. “A couple of kids raising kids,” he laughed. Even as young as they were, McFaddin’s parents instilled in him one specific trait that anyone who knows him, when asked about him, repeats, verbatim. Work. Ethic. “He comes from a family with a strong work ethic and a great appreciation for education. His mom and dad believed in discipline,” said John Williamson, Model Lab Superintendent and McFaddin’s high school English teacher. McFaddin credits Williamson with pushing him to venture outside his comfort zone, going so far as to take the stage in a musical production with classmate and friend Chris Stapleton. “David isn’t a great singer. Yet, he shared the stage with Chris Stapleton in their senior year, in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Williamson said. Johnson County is the kind of place that its people will always call home. McFaddin is no different, but even as a youth, he dreamed of bigger things. “I was still in high school and filling up with gas one day and a friend of my cousin who was older than me was working at the gas station. And I remember thinking to myself, that is not for me. I’m not going to do that. Education was the ticket to ride for me,” McFaddin recalled.

McFaddin’s parents instilled in him one specific trait that anyone who knows him, when asked about him, repeats, verbatim. Work. Ethic. Opportunity is more than just a slogan or a catchphrase for McFaddin. It means the difference between working at McDonald’s and owning McDonald’s. He found his opportunity in education. “My parents talked about education. They talked about college. The one thing that I really excelled at was school,” McFaddin said. He excelled to the point that he hid his report card from his parents until Sunday nights so that his friends could remain ungrounded for the weekend, knowing that McFaddin’s report card would set off a chain of phone calls announcing that report cards had, in fact, been sent home to parents. “It was a place I felt comfortable and where I excelled.” A group of McFaddin’s high school friends made education competitive at Johnson Central. “We were really competitive, and that pushed me,” McFaddin said. A merit scholarship was the tiebreaker over offers to go to Transylvania and the University of Kentucky. He arrived at EKU without a car in Fall 1996. “I lived in Keene 904 with my best friend from high school.” In 1997, just a year into college, McFaddin met Melissa Dye while working as a carpenter at Jenny Wiley Theater. She was a high school senior taking part in a production. “Our first date was to see Men in Black,” McFaddin said. They have been together since, and now have three children: Isabel, 7; Sophia, 5; and Connor, 2. An internship at BellSouth, which would soon become AT&T, led him to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. “I had my career planned out. I was going to go into the family business. I was going to go into management — public policy and community and public relations work. And it was an amazing experience,” McFaddin said.

At the time, he heralded BellSouth for mapping out a professional growth path. And that’s what he did for the next 13 years. “I made a conscious choice in 2008 ... that I wanted to give back (to EKU) in some way.” When an opportunity to teach sports writing at EKU came up, McFaddin took it. “I truly fell in love with being back on campus in that way.” Then President Dr. Doug Whitlock called and said he wanted to bring him on full time. But the 2008 recession put the move on hold for four years. “We had looked for some way to bring him on board at EKU. That opportunity presented itself when my executive director for government relations retired from that position,” Whitlock said. “We put it on pause until 2012,” McFaddin chuckled. As his leadership role grew at AT&T, so did the likelihood he would have to move out of state. Knowing he and his Kentucky native wife wanted to raise their family in Kentucky, he took the job at the end of 2012. McFaddin is not shy. Working in the Capitol for years teaches you how to handle people from all walks of life. He has an ease about him. He smiles. He has a laugh or a story or a greeting for everyone. He remembers names. He lets you know he “knows” you in a way that is both charming and reassuring. He’s also not shy about stepping into leadership roles and setting goals. He told close colleagues when he was leaving

Being the president of this institution is not

something I do for me. It is not for my ego. It is for this institution. It is for our service region. It is

for our communities ... It is work that needs to be

done and it has and will continue to change lives.

AT&T, working as a senior lobbyist, that he intended to be president at Eastern someday. “I said that,” when the question was repeated back to him. “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably never get there,” he said. Sitting in the biggest chair on campus is different from being “the guy behind the person in that chair,” which is the role McFaddin says he has played for nearly 20 years. The seven years he spent supporting his predecessor helped him establish relationships across campus, building a foundation for what was to come next. “President (Michael) Benson made sure I had all the tools and experience I needed to become president if the opportunity presented itself.” When Benson stepped aside, McFaddin was not only ready — he was the clear and logical choice.

McFaddin revisits The Old Store, just walking distance from his childhood home and a place he often visited growing up in Johnson County, Kentucky.

“Being the president of this institution is not something I do for me. It is not for my ego. It is for this institution. It is for our service region. It is for our communities. It is for my team who give all of themselves to this important work every day. It is for our faculty and our staff and our students. Because this is good and noble work. It living, breathing example of what this institution can do for someone. I am only the third alum to be president of this institution and I am the first to come from its service region. That is impactful,” McFaddin said. n

26 SPRING 2021


is work that needs to be done and it has and will continue to change lives. I am a



HASHTAGS UNPACKING THE OPPRESSION OF BLACK LIVES THROUGH CONVERSATIONS ON RACISM, RESISTANCE, AND RECONCILIATION Just as their backgrounds and paths varied widely, generations of Black students at Eastern have experienced both the painful sting of racism and the uplifting kindness of certain administrators, faculty, staff and peers. From a trail-blazing pioneer in the 1960s to the current student body president, two common threads emerge: that of steely determination to succeed as student and professional, whatever the obstacles, and of how doors of opportunity opened to new vistas of endless possibilities. As part of Homecoming Week festivities, four EKU alumni and one current student gathered for a virtual panel discussion titled “From Postcards to Hashtags”: Dr. Eric Abercrumbie, ’70 ’71; Dr. Elaine Farris, ’77 ’81 ’12; Tia Stokes, ’04; Deverin Muff, ’14 ’15; and Eyouel Mekonnen, senior from Ethiopia and EKU’s first international student body president. Just as surely as their lives have been uniquely shaped by their campus experiences, the panelists continue to make Eastern proud by setting high personal standards, living out their ideals and selflessly serving others. Here are some excerpts from that conversation:


and racial oppression. I had never seen a Confederate flag

What was the Black experience like for you as a student at EKU?

live, but, at the football and basketball games, they were

ABERCRUMBIE: “I was afraid … apprehensive. I had

FARRIS: “The College of Education just kind of took me

already been conditioned for 18 years to stay in my place

under their wings. I remember Dr. Martha Mullins so

because of the color of my skin. When I got (to Eastern) …

vividly, how kind she was to me. I remember Dr. Richard

I was introduced to more segregation and more cultural

Gentry (and) how he mentored me.”

flown over top of us.”

( Tia Stokes, ’04, pictured opposite.)

28 SPRING 2021

30 SPRING 2021

STOKES: About overhearing someone at her residence hall desk call her a “little colored girl” … “I said nicely to her, ‘I’m not little, I’m not colored, and I’m not a girl. My name is Tia.’ She’s like, ‘Well, honey, I didn’t mean anything by it.’ And I said, ‘I understand. I just want you to know my name is Tia.’ I don’t think she meant it disrespectfully, but … I’ve never felt that rise up in me. But my overall experience at Eastern was OK.” MUFF: “When I was in school (on a basketball scholarship), Obama was president (but) Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin also happened … so you get reminded real quick that, yeah, we’ve made progress but we still have a lot of work to do. That was kind of my experience.” MEKONNEN: “I gave up on my dream until I learned about Robert Warfield (who in 1969 became the first Black student in Kentucky to assume a seat on a public university’s board of regents) and I saw that someone before me had done it before. (Racism) is more of a hidden, more subliminal thing now (but) I’d be lying if I said … it is absolutely gone. The highlight of my experience is the friendships I’ve been able to have, most of which are with my white peers.” ABERCRUMBIE: “Out of our experience – you’re right, Dr. Farris – we find people.” Referencing the provision of two buses so the newly-formed predominantly Black University Ensemble could travel widely, “You have to show you can be an asset in oppression, no matter your circumstance.”


How have you been involved in civil rights and social justice movements? FARRIS: “The biggest thing I think we can do is stand up for what’s right even when other people are silent. I tell people all the time that you don’t have to invite me to the table. If I think I need to be there, I’m going to invite myself. I don’t have a problem pushing in, especially when I know it’s going to help other people. If people say that they want to do something and they believe in social justice, watch their practices and review their policies. If they’re serious about it, they change their policies … and practices.”

( Dr. Eric Abercrumbie, ’70 ’71, opposite. Eyouel Mekonnen, pictured right. )


What kept you going?

MUFF: “Dr. (Eugene) Palka (then vice president for student success) taught me about college education and walked me through those steps, step by step, to graduate. And Dr. Aaron Thompson (EKU grad and former professor/ administrator, now president of Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education) keeps inspiring me and pushing me to keep going forward. It’s important to have a mentor that can challenge you and push you to that next level where you didn’t think you could go.” STOKES: “Delta Sigma Theta helped me find that culture that I needed at Eastern. We always came together (and) we always found each other. Brandy Johnson was very supportive. Anything we needed we could always go to her, and she would help and support us.” ABERCRUMBIE: “The first thing that really helped us through, I think of Black student organizations (such as the University Ensemble, Omega Psi Phi fraternity and Black Student Union). When we talk about people, had it not been for Dr. William (long-time history professor) and Marion Berge, I would not have been able to accomplish the things I have. (And) if it hadn’t been for (then financial aid director) Herb Vescio, a whole lot of Black students … would never have graduated.”


What does advocacy mean to you?

FARRIS: “I have to be a voice or an influencer that provides access and opportunity to those who may not have it at this time. It has nothing to do with gender or color. I open doors for people who may not know how to open the door and, once the door is open, I support that person to go where they need to go.” MEKONNEN: “If I don’t have a platform, I still have a voice. If I don’t have my voice, I still have a pen and a pad, and if I don’t have a pen and pad, I have my phone, Twitter and social media. What I have, I only have because it was given to me, so I can dispense it as freely as it was given to me.” n

( Dr. Elaine Farris, ’77 ’81 ’12, left. Deverin Muff, ’14 ’15, opposite.)

32 SPRING 2021

Over the past decade, Eastern Kentucky University’s campus has undergone a gradual yet dramatic facelift. The Campus Beautiful gained several new residence halls, parking structures, a new dining hall, a state-of-the-art science building, and more. Most recently, in January 2020, Eastern unveiled a brand new recreation center and completely renovated Powell Student Center on Hall Drive.

Both new spaces, in conjunction with other recently completed projects, are part of an effort to centralize student life and improve access to vital campus services. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected usage of the spaces since shortly after they opened. However, Justin Raymer, director of Campus Recreation, and Loni Yost, director of Student Life, have already seen the impact of the new facilities. They are hopeful both areas will realize their full potential in the years to come.

VITAL UPGRADES For generations of alumni, the Powell Student Center is an iconic landmark defining life as a Colonel. It once housed offices and meeting rooms on its ground floor, a cafeteria above, and the Fountain Food Court below. After many years of use and the introduction of Case Dining Hall in 2018, Powell found itself in need of new purpose and a major remodel. The new facility contains food options like Starbucks; the new campus bookstore; additional meeting spaces and a game room for students; the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs; the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, including the new Veterans Education and Transition Support (VETS) Center; and the Office of Student Life. The inclusion of meeting and event rooms on the top floor has also allowed students and staff to meet while practicing social distancing. In addition, the Office of Student Life is now completely housed in one building and centrally located to the students it serves. “It’s nice to be in a space with close proximity to the other campus groups that we work with, and also to be back in a space where students are coming in and out of the building,” said Yost. “We’ve been able to have that in some capacity this semester even with COV ID.”

34 SPRING 2021

A stained-glass window, gifted by the Gamma Theta chapter of Chi Omega at EKU, serves as the glass wall of a conference room in the newly renovated Powell Building. ABOVE LEFT: EKU’s new campus recreation center




Just across the street from the refreshed Powell Building sits Eastern’s brand new campus recreation center. The facility includes a new aquatic center with a zero-entry pool, the largest ADA-accessible climbing wall on a college campus in the state, racquetball courts and three group exercise studios. In the future, Raymer and his staff hope these spaces will become a community as well as a campus asset, enabling the creation of new workshops and recreation programs. For now, though, the expanded space has allowed the center to spread out equipment and avoid closures due to COVID-19. “We wouldn’t have been able to do this in the previous facility,” said Raymer. “The new facility enables us to serve more of the student population. That was true pre-COVID, but it’s especially true now that we’re in this situation.” The new recreation center also includes an esports lounge, featuring 24 Alienware CPU’s and a golf simulator. Esports — video game sports competition — is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, especially among teens and young adults. “We really hope that this is a recruitment tool, as well as a space that would bring in an atypical participant into our facility,” said Raymer. “Then they may be exposed to other programs that they may not have originally sought out.”

BRINGING COLONELS TOGETHER Both Student Life and Campus Recreation migrated to their new homes from less-centralized campus locations. Campus recreation’s previous facility on Roy and Sue Kidd Way sat on the perimeter of campus, and Student Life offices moved through several locations in recent years. Now, both offices are just footsteps away from Case Dining Hall and most residence halls. This is no accident. Rather, it is part of a strategy to centralize student life on campus by placing vital services where students naturally congregate. “We’ve created this space on campus to be conducive to the traffic of students,” said Yost. “When that flows naturally to your space, it helps with promotion and engagement.” THIS PAGE: New Powell spaces include Starbucks, the campus bookstore, student meeting spaces and game room, and the Offices of Student Life, Multicultural Student Affairs, and Military and Veterans Affairs. OPPOSITE: The new campus recreation center is equipped with an aquatic center, ADA accessible climbing wall, group exercise studios, an esports lounge, and more.

Both Raymer and Yost have already seen a marked improvement in student involvement since the move. In its first two weeks, the new campus recreation facility garnered 8,000 student visits per week, compared to an average of 5,000 weekly visits in the previous facility. “We have kept the students at the forefront in all of our planning,” said Yost. “Even amidst the pandemic, we’ve tried to provide them with opportunities to make their student experience special.”

REALIZING THE VISION Though the traffic Raymer and Yost witnessed between January and March 2020 was promising, they agree the best is yet to come. “We’ve got a glimpse of the vision of what this will be for students,” said Raymer. “It may be a year or two before we fully realize the impact of these new spaces on the campus community. But we’re preparing now for that to come to fruition.” n

36 SPRING 2021


EKUATHLETICS COLONELS TRIUMPH IN DIFFICULT YEAR Despite the many obstacles caused by COVID-19, and facing one of the toughest schedules in program history, the Colonels found success in 2020. New Head Coach Walt Wells led EKU to a road win at The Citadel, a near upset of FBS Troy, a victory over No. 11 Central Arkansas and a 49-17 win against Western Carolina in the 2020 Opportunity Bowl. The Colonels suffered two heartbreaking last-minute losses. The win over 11th ranked Central Arkansas was the program’s first victory over a ranked team since 2013 and the first win over a non-conference ranked team since 2003 when Eastern Kentucky beat No. 11 Appalachian State. EKU was recognized as the national team of the week three times during the 2020 season. Quarterback Parker McKinney, wide receiver Keyion Dixon and running back Alonzo Booth each earned national player of the week honors as well.

PROTHRO NAMED NEW BASEBALL HEAD COACH Chris Prothro, who helped the University of South Alabama capture two conference championships and make two NCAA Regional appearances in five seasons as an assistant coach, was chosen as the new EKU baseball head coach in September. As the recruiting coordinator at South Alabama, Prothro led the efforts that resulted in the 2018 recruiting class being ranked 25th in the nation. The 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020 classes also garnered recognition. “Words can’t even express how excited I am to lead the EKU baseball program,” said Prothro. “The pieces are in place for a championship level of success.” Prothro coached five players who were drafted over a three-year span, including the No. 10 overall pick in 2018. South Alabama won two games in the Tallahassee Regional in 2016. USA beat No. 2 seed Mississippi State in the first round of the Hattiesburg Regional in 2017. The Jaguars finished the 2017 season ranked 26th nationally.

38 SPRING 2021

MEN’S BASKETBALL TEAM SET FOR HISTORIC SEASON Through the first of February, the men’s basketball team was on pace for a historic season. EKU, riding a nine-game winning streak, was off to its best start since the 1946-47 season and its best conference start since the 1964-65 campaign. The strong start had Eastern in the top 15 of the CollegeInsider.com Mid Major Top 25®. On Jan. 21, the Colonels tied the Ohio Valley Conference record with 20 three-pointers in a win over UT Martin. EKU started the month of February ranked seventh in the country in scoring. Junior Tre King was voted as the OVC Player of the Week three times and freshman Wendell Green Jr. was voted OVC Freshman of the Week three times. King scored a career-best 29 points in a win over Tennessee Tech on Jan. 9. Green finished with a season-high 30 points in a road victory at Austin Peay on Jan. 2.

EKU TO JOIN ASUN CONFERENCE IN JULY Eastern Kentucky University and all 16 of its athletics teams will join the ASUN Conference on July 1, 2021. During its last full year of competition (2018-19), the ASUN enjoyed its most successful postseason with 19 wins. In addition, ASUN student-athletes have excelled academically. More than 70 percent of ASUN studentathletes earned a year-long 3.0 GPA each of the past three years. “Joining the ASUN Conference provides Eastern Kentucky University the opportunity to share our story with a rapidly growing, more geographically diverse audience,” President Dr. David T. McFaddin said. “It is an opportunity to expand our reach and make an impact in areas where we have not traditionally shared EKU’s story.” In talks with the ASUN, EKU recognized that the conference lives by its Beams of STUDENTS FIRST, RISE, CONNECT and IMPACT. These values drive conference decision-making and Eastern Kentucky shares that commitment to the ASUN Beams.


#ColonelsCare Fall 2020 has been a semester unlike any other. Social distancing and face masks have become the norm on the

#CampusBeautiful as Colonels do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. They follow guidelines to protect their family, friends and campus community. In short, #ColonelsCare.

02 01

I wear a mask for my EKU community. I love this campus so much, and I know that with the right precautions, EKU can be a safe home to all students. It is my responsibility as a Colonel to contribute to the safety and success of my community by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing.


- Lindsay Volpenhein, Class of 2021

Stay Connected @easternkentuckyu 40 SPRING 2021


Eastern Kentucky University




I wear a mask to ensure the well-being of my friends, family, and quality of education on campus. 07

- Jon Phillips, Class of 2021



10 11




01. Enock Kipchumba studies hard in the New Science Building. 02. Lindsay Volpenhein studies while keeping Colonels safe. 03. @sara__walters and @jake.wever wear masks while on the #CampusBeautiful. 04. Megan Kurtz works in science lab while keeping others safe. 05. @eku.danceteam shares their #ColonelPride with facemasks. 06. Danika Riddle showcasing #EKUPride by wearing facemask. 07. Sam Wireman studies in the New Martin Lobby. 08. Nick Koenig works on pottery in ceramics studio. 09. @eku.sga president Eyouel McKonnen shares his #EKUPride during Homecoming events. 10. Emily Goodman being mentored in the @ekusuccesscenter. 11. Jon Phillips sits outside on the #CampusBeautiful wearing his mask. 12. @liviwoodssss and friend prepare for a day of classes. 13. Mariah Barko shares her #EKU spirit outside of Keen Johnson. 14. Melvin Diggs works on homework while keeping others safe.




——––———— • —————––—

PROFILES Russell Crawford, ’05 ’07 —— • ——

Josh Burns, ’13 Dr. Wilma “Willi” Walker —— • ——

Christi Malec, ’91 ——––———— • ———––———

IN MEMORIAM ——–——–—— • —————––—

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT EKU Announces 2020 Athletics Hall of Fame

From Nashville. With love. This is it, Colonels. The last letter I will write to you as the president of the EKU International Alumni Association. It has been an extraordinary four years, and I am grateful to have served in this role. My fellow board members and our dedicated alumni staff made my experience remarkable as we worked our best on your behalf for the betterment of our institution. While I will miss working with them regularly, I am excited to continue cheering for their progress. Over the past four years, I have enjoyed sharing personal experiences with you through these letters, and the common thread through them all is that Eastern is special. As with any treasured relationship, there are ups and downs throughout. My relationship with Eastern is no exception — I have not always appreciated the lessons; I have not always understood the changes I was seeing; and at times, I have felt like I was being left behind. But, dear friends, I never stayed in those feelings for long. My commitment to Eastern is stronger than any of that. Mainly because, this is not about me. I had my time at EKU. I made my memories. I earned my degrees. And I feel EKU was amazing in the years I was on campus. But, if it stayed exactly as I remember it in the early 2000s, it would not be right for the students of today and tomorrow.

For a comprehensive list of Class Notes or to share your good news with fellow alums, visit

alumni.eku.edu/ Class-Notes.

Therefore, my duties as an alumna of this institution are to continue to love it fiercely, to hope for its continuous success, to show my appreciation and support through annual donations, and to tell others about the outstanding opportunities it can provide. We are all called upon to act in these ways, and I believe we can do so with exceptional pride. I hope you think of Eastern often with fondness in your heart. I hope you smile when you remember a favorite teacher. I hope you still keep in touch with a friend you made here. I hope you have memories rush back when a familiar song comes on the radio. I have many more hopes, especially in light of this past year, and especially for you, fellow Colonel. Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay in touch. I cannot wait to see you again on the Campus Beautiful very soon. With love and thanks,

We want to hear from you! Amy Jo

42 SPRING 2021

Class Notes Col. Ralph E. Newman, ’62, was honored with a memorial bench at EKU’s Veterans Memorial, located in the Powell Plaza, on Nov. 7, 2020. J. Dudley Goodlette, ’70, has been appointed to the Naples Ethics Commission by Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. Goodlette was also named chairman of the commission. Dr. Larry Barnhardt, ’71 ’73, published the book “Knowing the Deepest Happiness” on Sept. 25, 2020. Ken Wright, ’74, and several colleagues published the textbook “Basic Athletic Training, 7th edition” in Fall 2020. Susan Hunt, ’78, has retired from her position as executive director of Community Hospice in Ashland, Kentucky after 31 years. Lori Stewart Gonzalez, ’81, has been selected as provost for the University of Louisville. Marc C. Whitt’s, ’82 ’85, book “PR Lessons Learned Along the Way” was named No. 1 in the “24 Best New PR Books to Read in 2020”, No. 13 in the “100 Best PR Books of All Time”, and No. 4 in the “18 Best Influence Books for Beginners” by BookAuthority. Ben Childers, ’83, leader of Riverside Plastic Surgery in Riverside, California, was named among the Best Plastic Surgeons of Inland Empire for 2020 by the Press Enterprise. Dr. Michele Dickens, ’84, has been named as the dean of Campbellsville University’s School of Nursing. Kathy Dieringer, ’85, has been elected president of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA). Dieringer is also a recent winner of the Distinguished Alumni Award. Ron Hart, ‘86, was appointed Cumberland Valley National Bank’s executive vice president and chief financial officer on Oct. 1, 2020. Robert Stack, ’86 ‘01, has been named 9-1-1 Director of the Year by the Kentucky Emergency Number Association and the Kentucky Chapter of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials. Tommy Hurt, ’89 ’97, became assistant principal at Bondurant Middle School in Frankfort, Kentucky in August 2020. Ed Meece, ’89, was appointed city manager of Polson, Montana in Sept. 2020. Meece served as city manager for Livingston, Montana for nearly 10 years. Brad Smither, ’90, has been named market president at Frankfort’s Limestone Bank branch.

Russell Crawford,’05 ’07

Alumnus Recipient of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation’s 2020 Advanced Practice Provider of the Year Russell Crawford, ’05 ’07, advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), was recognized as the 2020 Advanced Practice Provider of the Year by the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. Crawford is a cardiology specialist at Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington. With a family history of coronary artery disease and cancer, becoming an APRN was personal for Crawford. Originally from Manchester, Kentucky, he received a bachelor’s degree from EKU and a master’s from the University of Cincinnati. Colleagues said Crawford’s patients appreciate his bedside manner and the time he takes to listen and address patient concerns. Crawford was nominated for this honor by Bobbye Moore, practice manager with CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group Cardiology in Lexington. Moore commended Crawford for providing quality care to patients, his positivity, helping patients to understand their health care, and for putting patient care first. n


Josh Burns, ’13

EKU Alum Educates Through YouTube, Online Courses Josh Burns, 2013 computer information systems graduate, has achieved considerable success as a freelance programmer, earning more than $600,000 in just over four years. Now he uses YouTube, Patreon and online courses to teach others how to do the same. After graduation, Burns looked to freelancing as a way to earn extra income and pay off debt. He offers his services as a web developer on Upwork, an online freelancing platform where enterprises and individuals connect to conduct business. Burns is now one of the platform’s top freelancers for total earnings, job ratings and client feedback. This success inspired him to start a YouTube channel, Josh Burns Tech, featuring content on freelancing best practices, personal finance tips and reviews of technology products. As a partnered YouTube creator, Burns’ channel boasts over 43,000 subscribers. He also teaches freelance skills through online course platform Skillshare and offers coaching and mentoring through Patreon, a membership platform providing business tools for content creators to run a subscription service. n

Cathy Sammons, ‘94, a teacher at Tates Creek High School, is among 30 educators nationwide chosen for the 2020-23 HHMI BioInteractive Ambassador Academy. Shannon Hutchinson, ’95, joined the Sports team at the Commonwealth Journal in Wayne County, Kentucky in Sept. 2020. Dr. Kathy Burkhardt, ’97, assumed the role of senior director of NaviGo College and Career Prep, a division of Learning Grove, Nov. 2020. Tina Hamm, ’97, has been appointed to the Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority Board of Directors. Marianna A. Perry, ’97, has been appointed secretary/treasurer of the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO)’s Board of Directors. Perry is a safety and security consultant and owns AEDs & Safety Services, LLC. Susan Johnson, ’98 ’07, has retired from Hazard Community and Technical College after 29 years. She served as cosmetology program coordinator and led the opening of the Cosmetology Department at the Lees College Campus downtown location in 2016. Brian Collins, ’00, was recently promoted from battalion chief to deputy chief at Brentwood Fire and Rescue. Tina Terry, ’00, has been appointed to serve on the Christian Appalachian Project’s Board of Directors. Lisa Farmer, ’01 ’04, was named Lexington’s director of community corrections by Mayor Linda Gorton in Oct. 2020. Farmer is the first female leader of Lexington’s Detention Center. Josh Rayburn, ’01 ’12 ’15, was honored with the 2020 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Arts and Technology Network Creativity Award. Priscilla Keller, ’03, has been selected by the Kentucky Center for Mathematics as a Kentucky Math Teacher Leader. Mindy Rogers, ’05, was appointed director of the Kentucky Cancer Program - East at The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center. Wes Alexander, ’06, has been named director of transportation for Henderson County Schools. Justin Carroll, ’07, has been named branch manager and assistant vice president at Community Trust Bank’s Versailles Woodford Plaza branch office. Lora M. King, ’07 ’17, has been named the director of Behavioral Health Services at Baptist Health Richmond. Ryan Miranda, ’08, was named one of Louisville Business First’s Forty Under 40 for 2020. He is the president and CEO of Miranda Construction. Jessica Roberts Stigall, ’09, has been promoted to Member of the firm, Sturgill, Turner, Barker & Moloney, PLLC, January 1, 2021. Aaron Acree, ’11, was appointed Trigg County Sheriff in Sept. 2020.

44 SPRING 2021

Cody Buell, ’12, appeared on the CBS’s “The Amazing Race” on Oct. 14, 2020. Brittney Black, ’13, was named the new athletics director for Robert D. Campbell Junior High School in Winchester, Kentucky. Katelyn Arvin, ’14 ’16, has been named behavioral health manager at Baptist Health Richmond. She was most recently the lead clinical navigator for behavioral health. Jonathon Barefoot, ’14, was named vice president for public safety and emergency preparedness at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, Indiana. Autumn Costelle, ’15, was admitted to the Global Field Program at Miami University in summer 2020. She participated in the Earth Expeditions: Connected Conservation course. Kayla Lasure, ’15, was promoted to editor of the Watagua Democrat and All About Women Magazine on Nov. 30, 2020. Lindsey Aguilar, ’16, Pulaski County teacher, has been selected by the Kentucky Center for Mathematics (KCM) as a Kentucky Math Teacher Leader (KyMTL). Martin Krippenstapel, ’16, has been promoted to the position of project manager at Padgett Construction. Dr. Noriko Okura, ’16, joined the University of Mount Union Department of World Languages and Cultures and its Japanese program as a visiting assistant professor. Diane Goetz, ’17, nurse practitioner, opened Diane Goetz Family Practice, PLLC in Owensboro, Kentucky on Nov. 9, 2020. Brian Judge, ’17 ’19, has been named director of graduate medical education administration at Southeast Health in Dothan, Alabama. Travis Mills, ’17 ‘19, became founder, president of the board, and principal of the new Central Christian Academy in Gray, Kentucky in Aug. 2020. Taylor Hamlin, ’18, married Joshua Baker on Oct. 10, 2020 at Grace Christian Fellowship in Williamsburg, Kentucky. Taylor Six, ’18, organized a mental health and suicide awareness walk at Lake Reba on Oct. 17, 2020. All proceeds benefited the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Kristen Bennett, ’19, was named executive vice president of advancement at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 1, 2020. Larissa Heslop, ’20, Colonel soccer defender, has been named a nominee for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Woman of the Year Award. Kelsey Johnson, ’20, joined Baldwin CPAs full-time as an accountant in May 2020. A. J. Lewis, ’20, catcher for the Colonels baseball team, signed a free agent contract to play for the Colorado Rockies in July 2020. Steven Nash, ’21, has been named senior superintendent of operations for Kentucky American Water’s Central and Southern divisions.

Dr. Wilma “Willi” Walker Named to the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame The Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame is honoring Dr. Wilma “Willi” Walker for her efforts in creating and developing EKU’s aviation program — the only four-year aviation degree program in Kentucky. With an enthusiasm for flight and while teaching geography full-time at EKU, Walker built the aviation academic program from scratch. Walker’s efforts of establishing a budget, finding facilities, setting the curriculum and recruiting faculty and students to the program resulted in the first aviation course being offered in 1983. By 1984, students could pursue an aviation minor, and in 1991, EKU was able to offer Kentucky’s first bachelor’s degree in aviation. Walker’s leadership of the aviation program from 1983-2000 remains evident today. Aviation is one of EKU’s most highly sought-after programs, boasting a current enrollment of 320 aviation majors representing 21 states. Part of the 25th Enshrinement class into the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame, Walker will be honored at a formal induction ceremony in Fall 2021 at the Aviation Museum of Kentucky in Lexington. The Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame recognizes inductees for contributions and achievements in aviation and aerospace. n


TIM LESTER, ’91 1 9 6 8 - 2 0 2 1

Colonel football Hall of Famer, Tim Lester, passed away in January. From Miami, Florida, Lester played four seasons (1988-91) for Coach Roy Kidd at the fullback and tailback positions. He finished his career at EKU with 3,640 yards rushing, sixth all-time on the Eastern history list, and 37 touchdowns. While at Eastern, the Colonels compiled a 42-8 record, won three conference titles and advanced twice to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs. After graduating, Lester was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams and later joined the Pittsburgh Steelers, competing in Super Bowl XXX. After closing his pro career with the Cowboys, he founded a non-profit organization helping at-risk athletes to be successful on and off the field.


1 9 3 4 - 2 0 2 0 Political philosopher, activist and

GRANT BALES, ’59 1 9 3 2 - 2 0 1 9

Grant Heverlo Bales died Aug. 9, 2019 at 87 after battling cancer. A Model High School and EKU graduate, Bales met his wife, Mary

intelligence researcher, Dr. James R. Flynn, passed away in December at age 86. Flynn is known for his discovery of the successive generational increases in IQ scores worldwide, a phenomenon now known as the Flynn effect. He gave a TED Talk on the topic, titled “Why our IQ levels are higher than

Ruth Childers, ’55, while at EKU. He stayed

our grandparents’.”

active in the alumni community, serving as

While a professor at EKU, Flynn helped

EKU’s Class of 1959 50th Reunion chair.

organize against Richmond’s segregated

Bales was an airplane mechanic in the

downtown businesses during the civil

U.S. Air Force from 1952-54, and upon graduating from EKU, worked at Retail Credit Corporation, Hartford Insurance, then Amerisure Insurance. With a lifelong love for aviation, Bales took flight lessons beginning at age 14 and served as a flight instructor up until his final days. He was recognized for more than 50 years of safe flying with the Wright Brothers’ Master Pilot Award in 2004.

46 SPRING 2021

rights movement. He later moved to New Zealand and taught political studies at the University of Otago in Dunedin. Flynn authored books about liberalism, world history and political censorship. He advised Australia’s prime minister on foreign policy, organized against the war in Vietnam, and founded two left-wing political parties in the 1990s.

JACK RONALD HISSOM, ’58 ’59 1 9 3 3 - 2 0 2 0


1 9 4 4 - 2 0 2 0

Former Eastern Kentucky University basketball and

Dr. Fred Ballou, retired Richmond dentist, passed away on

baseball coach Jack Hissom

Nov. 24 after a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He

passed away on Nov. 25.

was preceded in death by his parents and son, Fred L. “Trae”

Selected as a member of

Ballou III. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane “Janie” Ballou,

the 2020 EKU Athletics Hall

daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Ballou, and grandchildren, Claire

of Fame class, Hissom was

and Michael Ballou.

involved in Eastern athletics for 12 seasons in two

A Model High School graduate, Dr. Ballou played for the

different sports.

combined Model and Madison High football team under then up-and-coming football coach, Roy Kidd. Ballou’s football

He started his EKU career

performance led to his induction into the Kentucky High

in 1967, serving the men’s

School Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2016. Dr. Ballou

basketball team as assistant

was also a graduate of EKU and stayed involved within the

coach while also serving as the team’s freshman coach. During his tenure as freshman team coach, Hissom compiled a six-year record of 67-41. In 1972, Hissom switched sports and was named EKU’s head baseball coach. In eight

Richmond community, serving as a city commissioner for three terms and member of the Richmond Independent School Board for two terms.

seasons, the Colonel baseball teams went 122-116-8 and won two conference division titles.

DR. CAROLYN HESTER HARVEY 1 9 4 5 - 2 0 2 0

Beloved professor of environmental health, Dr. Carolyn Hester Harvey, CIH, CHMM, RS, DAAS, passed away on Oct. 3, 2020. A pioneer and leader, Dr. Harvey’s career in environmental health, industrial hygiene and public health endured over 50 years.

Bill Eggen Steven Frazier David Harkelroad

Melvin Kerr David Mardon Lew Smither Jr.

Jeremy Caldwell, ’11 David Charles DeCuir, ’81 Marcia Watkins Evans, ’05 Hugh Eugene Gabbard, ’59 ’69

Chris Issac, ’83 James Wesley Jackson, ’86 ’87 Harold Kittrell, ’52 ’55 Karen Marie Powell, ’03

Her 17 years of service to Eastern Kentucky University included roles as chair of the Department of Environmental Health Science and Medical Laboratory Science, director of the Master of Public Health program and professor of environmental health. She was the 2020 recipient of the National Environmental Health Association’s (NEHA) Walter S. Mangold Award and served as president of the National Environmental Health Association from 2014-15.


EKU Announces 2020 Athletics Hall Of Fame Class

The Eastern Kentucky University Athletics Hall of Fame 2020 induction class features nine distinguished individuals. Inductees are presented above in order from top left. Mike Cadore (football, 1984-88) holds the EKU record for his 30.3 yards per kickoff return career average. The NFL’s New Orleans Saints drafted Cadore, and he finished his professional career in Montreal, Canada with the Montreal Machine. Jeff Cruse (baseball, 1984-87) holds Eastern’s record for most victories on the mound with 30. He was a first-team, All-OVC pitcher in 1986 and 1987 and was a member of Eastern’s All-Century Baseball Team, announced in 2009.

Arlando Johnson (men’s basketball, 1991-95) ranks sixth on EKU’s all-time scoring list with 1,617 points and led the team in scoring his senior year with an average of 18.2 points per game. Alvin Miller (football, 1977-80) was a major contributor in Eastern’s semifinal and national championship contests, being named Chevrolet Most Valuable Player. He was also named second-team, All-OVC his senior year. Charles Mitchell (men’s basketball, 1970-73) currently stands as Eastern’s 11th all-time leading scorer and 17th all-time leading rebounder.

Felecia (Hawkins) Hardy (women’s track, 1994-98) is ranked No. 3 on Eastern’s outdoor record chart having established a time of 23.94 in the 200 meters in 1997.

Chanze Patterson (softball, 2005-08) finished her career with a .310 batting average and 70 stolen bases which ranks second on the all-time Eastern list.

Jack Hissom (baseball/men’s basketball assistant coach, 1967-79) compiled a six-year record of 67-41 during his tenure as Eastern’s freshman basketball team coach. His 1978 baseball squad finished 13th in the nation with a .328 team batting average.

Pat Stephens (men’s golf player/coach, 1981-2018) earned the medalist title at the 1982 OVC tournament as a golf player. During his coaching tenure, the Colonels ranked as high as No. 28 in the Bushnell Golfweek Coaches Poll.

Learn more about the Athletics Hall of Fame at go.eku.edu/hall-of-fame.

48 SPRING 2021

Christi Malec, ’91

Alumna Appointed First Female Deputy Fire Chief of City in Georgia Christi Malec, ’91, has been appointed the first woman to serve as the deputy fire chief for the City of Marietta in Georgia. Having joined the Marietta Fire Department as a firefighter in 1999, Malec was promoted to firefighter engineer in 2004. Since then she has come up through the ranks to serve as lieutenant, commander, deputy fire marshal, and in March 2019 as assistant chief. Additionally, she’s a paramedic, HAZMAT technician and fire inspector. Malec earned a bachelor’s in exercise physiology from EKU and a master’s in public administration from the University of Phoenix. “I’m honored to serve the city of Marietta and citizens in my new role,” Malec said in a news release. “Through my experience and dedication to the Marietta Fire Department, I am humbled by the opportunity I have been given to lead such an outstanding group of men and women.” n


Nonprofit Organization U.S. POSTAGE


Office of Alumni Engagement

Lexington Ky Permit #879

Alumni Center at Blanton House Eastern Kentucky University 521 Lancaster Avenue Richmond, KY 40475-3102 EKU.EDU

At Arlington, Good Times are Par for the Course Alumni residing outside of Madison and surrounding counties are welcome to enjoy days of fun and relaxation at EKU with an alumni membership! Golf, swim, catch a game, enjoy a meal and more at the University Club at Arlington. Your membership package will provide an experience that is like your own personal homecoming celebration.

Visit go.eku.edu/arlington to learn more about alumni memberships starting at just $49 annually. NOTE: These packages are only available to alumni who do not live in Madison County or a contiguous county, or own a business in Madison County.

Profile for Eastern Kentucky University

EKU Magazine Spring 2021  

EKU Magazine Spring 2021  

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