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Part One



In 1906 a group of public-minded citizens, concerned with the provision of public higher education in the Commonwealth, convinced the Kentucky General Assembly to create Eastern Kentucky State Normal School.

Historic Richmond, where the Bluegrass region meets the foothills of the Cumberland, was chosen as the site of the new, two-year school. Higher education had begun in the community some 32 years earlier with the founding in 1874 of Central University. The Central University campus, which had served from 1901 to 1906 as the grounds for Walters Collegiate Institute, became the physical plant for the normal school.

An urban college community of about 25,000, Richmond is in a rich farming area. Inter- and intra-state highway systems enhance Richmond’s accessibility. Interstate 75 (north-south) passes within a mile of the campus, and I-64 (east-west) is only 30 minutes away. The Blue Grass and Mountain Parkways are also less than an hour’s drive from Richmond.

Places of historic and scenic interest surround the University. Richmond, 20 miles south of Lexington on I-75, is within easy driving distance of Boonesborough State Park, Kentucky Horse Park, Herrington Lake, Cumberland Falls, the State Capitol at Frankfort, Natural Bridge State Park, and My Old Kentucky Home in Bardstown.

The normal school at Richmond soon began the development that culminated in the granting of university status in 1966. Eastern became a four-year institution in 1922, and its name was changed to Eastern Kentucky State Normal School and Teachers College.

Eight years later the words “Normal School” were dropped, and in 1935 Eastern offered its first graduate-level degrees. The first nonprofessional degrees were offered in 1948, when the General Assembly removed “Teachers” from Eastern’s name.

On February 26, 1966, a state law was signed renaming the institution Eastern Kentucky University. With university status came the approval of graduate degrees in fields other than education.

Today, Eastern Kentucky University stands as a testimonial to its founders, a multi-purpose institution with a history of service to its students, the Commonwealth, and the nation. Its role expanded beyond the original mission of teacher preparation. Eastern now seeks to fulfill higher education’s threefold purpose: teaching, research, and public service.

Eastern Kentucky University’s interest in teaching is twofold. Besides the preparation of teachers for elementary, secondary, and college classrooms, the University is deeply concerned with the quality of instruction that takes place within its own halls.

It is difficult to find a program at Eastern Kentucky University that cannot be construed as public service. The University’s existence can be justified only in terms of the benefits reaped by the society that created it. However, certain functions can be described as public service in nature. These include extended campus courses, the University radio stations, and workshops and institutes for professional, in-service personnel.

As a regional university, Eastern Kentucky University is charged with the responsibility of providing services to the people of the region. As an example, Eastern specializes in areas such as local government; law enforcement, recreation, public health, business administration, and ecology provide consultative services to the communities of the Commonwealth.

Many Eastern professors engage in scholarly research in their disciplines. In the early years, research was predominantly education oriented. However, since the institution gained university status, the research activities of individual faculty have become much more diverse as well as more numerous.


Eastern Kentucky University
Strategic Plan 2016-2020

Mission Statement: As a school of opportunity, Eastern Kentucky University fosters personal growth and prepares students to contribute to the success and vitality of their communities, the Commonwealth, and the world.

Eastern Kentucky University is committed to access, equal opportunity, dignity, respect, and inclusion for all people, as integral to a learning environment in which intellectual creativity and diversity thrives.

Values: Eastern Kentucky University’s values shall permeate the mission and will be the fiber of the institution for it to achieve its vision.

  • intellectual vitality, which is characterized by knowledge, scholarly inquiry, creativity, critical thinking, and curiosity, all with a global perspective;
  • sense of community, which is characterized by a supportive environment with strong relationships and a commitment to service, shared governance, collaboration, and unity of purpose;
  • cultural competency, which is characterized by equitable opportunities and treatment, mutual respect, and the inclusion and celebration of diverse peoples and ideas;
  • stewardship of place, by which the University enhances the intellectual capacity, economic vitality, environmental sustainability, and quality of life of the communities it serves;
  • accountability, which is characterized by fiscal responsibility, operational transparency, and responsiveness to the needs of internal and external stakeholders; and
  • excellence, which is achieved through integrity, continuous quality improvement, and a focused emphasis on the personal and professional growth of students, faculty, and staff. 

Vision: Eastern Kentucky University will be a premier university dedicated to innovative student engagement and success, advancing Kentucky, and impacting the world.

Ongoing Commitments:
Current projects, services, activities, obligations, and policies to which we remain committed:

  • Competitive and Equitable Pay: achieving faculty and staff internal pay equity and competitive salaries;
  • Critical/Creative Thinking & Communication Skills: maintaining and enhancing critical and creative thinking and communication skills initiatives;
  • Diversity: increasing the number of diverse and international faculty, staff, and students;
  • Efficiency & Transparency: improving financial efficiency and transparency;
  • Global Impact: solidifying our local, regional, state, national, and global impact;
  • Liberal Arts Core:  providing a strong liberal arts core through the general education curriculum for all students;
  • Multicultural Experiences: enhancing multicultural and international experiences;
  • Safety: ensuring a safe and secure environment for our students;
  • Scholarship: improving the lives of others through discovery, application, and integration of knowledge
  • Service: valuing faculty service internal and external to the University;
  • Strong Government Relations:  advocating for increased state support for higher education;
  •  Student Learning: continually improving student learning through Assurance of Learning efforts;
  • Sustainability: improving our environmental impact; and
  • Teaching & Advising:  improving teaching and advising effectiveness.

Strategic Goal #1: Academic Excellence
Academic excellence, the cornerstone of the university’s mission, begins with the faculty.  Eastern Kentucky University seeks to build on its strong foundations as a school of opportunity by enhancing opportunities for professional development and by strategically developing and growing programs to meet the needs of our students.  We are committed to achieving academic excellence by promoting innovative pedagogy and by investing in our faculty and our academic programs.

We will achieve academic excellence through recruiting, retaining, and supporting innovative faculty and through continuous assessment and strengthening of academic programs.

We will enhance our dynamic, diverse academic environment and ensure outstanding student learning outcomes by focusing on:  promoting innovative teaching and learning practices; engaging students with an increasing emphasis on active and service learning and research opportunities; supporting faculty growth and excellence; and strategically strengthening academic program expansion and development while emphasizing program excellence.

Strategic Initiatives

Invest in Our Faculty (1.1)


  • Enhance faculty professional development opportunities with a focus on developing skills and engaging students through high-impact learning strategies, including metacognition skills, teaching techniques, curriculum design, and providing customer-focused service to all. (1.1.1)
  • Update promotion and tenure policies to reflect increased importance of engaging students, innovative teaching, advising, scholarship of teaching and learning, and support of our Region. (1.1.2)
  • Increase opportunities for faculty scholarship, research and creative endeavors, and faculty-student collaborations. (1.1.3)
  • Build academic leadership capacity among faculty. (1.1.4)
  • Recruit and retain faculty who are highly qualified in their discipline and demonstrate excellence in teaching. (1.1.5)
  • Design and implement a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan for diverse faculty. (1.1.6)

Promote Innovative Instruction and Programming (1.2)


  • Embed and support high-impact teaching strategies and best practices for student engagement to promote learning and increase retention. (1.2.1)
  • Focus on involving students in decision-making, research, and creative activities with faculty, scholarship, service learning, international education, co-op, and internships. (1.2.2)
  • Provide students the opportunity and support to participate in and receive recognition for research, creative, and academic endeavors. (1.2.3)
  • Increase the quality and capacity of pedagogical and technological support. (1.2.4)

Strengthen Academic Programs (1.3)


  • Ensure relevance of all academic programs through ongoing curriculum development and program review. (1.3.1)
  • Financially invest in and promote nationally recognized programs that attract students to EKU. (1.3.2)
  • Identify, pursue, and promote opportunities for new high-quality, distinct, and compelling programs with capacity to grow enrollments. (1.3.3)
  • Support and invest in opportunities for high-achieving students University-wide. (1.3.4)
  • Increase capacity in existing programs identified as having high demand. (1.3.5)
  • Invest in state-of-the-art, cutting-edge technology across all programs. (1.3.6)

Strategic Goal #2: Commitment to Student Success
Student Success is the core of Eastern Kentucky University’s past, present, and future.  It is the success of our students that fuels our passion to serve in the profession of higher education.  Students succeed when we devote our energies to continuously improving their experiences in and out of the classroom.  We will make data-informed decisions in our ongoing effort to fuel new opportunities for our students.

We will demonstrate our commitment to the success of our students through innovative engagement efforts that begin before arrival and continue after graduation.

We will enrich the lives of our students by intensely focusing on: growing, diversifying, and shaping our student body; building skills for success after graduation; enhancing the quality of student life; and promoting programs and policies that facilitate student success.

Strategic Initiatives

Invest in Our Students (2.1)


  • Promote and emphasize the use of student learning outcomes, academic support, and retention in co-curricular programming. (2.1.1)
  • Create new and support existing programs, activities, and services designed to assist students to adjust to and succeed in a university learning environment and to develop their full potential. (2.1.2)
  • Develop and integrate career preparation opportunities to include co-op, internships, international education, civic engagement, and other activities that build the skills necessary to secure gainful employment in a globally competitive marketplace. (2.1.3)
  • Develop and implement programming and services to enhance student well-being, health and wellness, civic engagement, and personal growth. (2.1.4)

Focus on Strategic Enrollment (2.2)


  • Develop a University-wide, inclusive strategic enrollment process ensuring partnership between Enrollment Management and Academic Affairs. (2.2.1)
  • Create a strategic enrollment plan with specific, but not exclusive, focus on enhancing our commitment to our Region, increasing educational opportunities for under-represented student populations, and serving students with diverse academic needs. (2.2.2)
  • Recruit a prepared, intellectually curious, diversified student body. (2.2.3)
  • Recruit increased numbers of international students. (2.2.4)
  • Ensure University resources, including student financial aid, are sufficient to support the enrollment management plan. (2.2.5)

Increase Efforts to Retain and Graduate Students (2.3)


  • Develop and promote University-wide best practices that provide collaborative and innovative student engagement in and out of the classroom. (2.3.1)
  • Employ coordinated, data-driven advising that uses intentional intervention milestones for designated populations and strengthens academic advising. (2.3.2)
  • Provide increased support for programs that address student preparedness challenges. (2.3.3)
  • Enhance student experiences University-wide by enhancing academic learning environments and increasing participation in living/learning communities, student organizations, and student-life programs. (2.3.4)
  • Create and upgrade existing facilities, including student recreation and intercollegiate athletics facilities. (2.3.5)
  • Review policies, processes, and operations to enhance responsiveness to student needs. (2.3.6)

Strategic Goal #3: Institutional Distinction
In a higher education marketplace rich with options, Eastern Kentucky University must define itself or others will define us. We seek to advance the value of the EKU experience and unite our communities around powerful expressions of our core values, an expansion of the personal and strategic relationships we forge, and by the strategic positioning of the compelling distinctions that make the EKU experience exceptional.

We will demonstrate our commitment to the advancement our university by investing in the people, places, and programs that make us distinct.

We seek to create a groundswell of enthusiasm and engagement for our University through the implementation of a powerful new EKU brand strategy. Our successes will be measured by the extent to which we demonstrate that we are thoughtful stewards of our resources, by the quality of the personal and strategic relationships we forge with the people we touch and inspire, and by the extent to which the people of EKU embrace and live our brand promise every day.

Strategic Initiatives

Invest in Our Staff (3.1)


  • Enhance staff professional development opportunities with focuses on leadership development, student support and engagement, and providing customer-focused service to all. (3.1.1)
  • Develop employee best practices for collaborative support programs and co-curricular instruction. (3.1.2)
  • Delineate and promote career pathways for all employees. (3.1.3)
  • Recruit, promote, and retain staff who are highly qualified and high performing in their area of expertise. (3.1.4)
  • Design and implement a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan for diverse staff and University administrators. (3.1.5)
  • Ensure all employees receive detailed, comprehensive performance evaluations and feedback. (3.1.6)

Advance the EKU Brand (3.2)


  • Craft a compelling brand identity and communication strategy. (3.2.1)
  • Design and implement a five-year, integrated marketing campaign that leverages our brand identity to advance our institution, aligns with our strategic plan, fuels our capital campaign, positions EKU intercollegiate athletics, and increases the number of students for whom EKU is their 1st Choice. (3.2.2)
  • Assess and share the impact of the University’s brand initiative. (3.2.3)
  • Promote the value of higher education. (3.2.4)

Create a Dynamic, Diverse, and Inclusive University Culture (3.3)


  • Foster pride in EKU by developing a distinctive University experience for all students, faculty, staff, and visitors. (3.3.1)
  • Create and support learning, work, and living environments that fully welcome and support diversity, inclusion, and equity. (3.3.2)
  • Build can-do spirit among faculty, staff, and students with an emphasis on superior customer-focused service and adaptability. (3.3.3)
  • Reward, recognize, and celebrate faculty, staff, and student achievements. (3.3.4)
  • Promote opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to participate in significant and conscientious shared governance. (3.3.5)
  • Ensure transparency in operations in order to unite the University communities. (3.3.6)
  • Promote positive relationships between the University and the local community. (3.3.7)
  • Create an institutional diversity plan that develops and implements comprehensive initiatives to promote access, diversity, intercultural competence, equity, inclusiveness and mutual respect for all members of the campus community. (3.3.8)

Strategic Goal #4: Financial Strength
Financial strength and stability is the bedrock upon which any successful strategic plan rests.  At Eastern Kentucky University, it undergirds our commitment to academic excellence; without it, the University’s ability to launch, sustain, grow, and evaluate quality academic programs is severely compromised. Financial strength and stability also buttresses our commitment to student success, whether we’re attracting more of the best and brightest students, bridging the gap for those students with developmental needs, or developing programs that grow our enrollment and improve our retention and graduation rates.

We will operate from a position of financial strength by becoming as efficient as possible in our spending and maximizing resource generation.

Whatever the case, financial resources are needed to help all our students reach their full potential. Finally, as the share of our revenue from state appropriations continues to decline and as we continue to invest in our strategic goals, while striving to keep the Eastern Experience affordable, greater private support is an acute need. 

Strategic Initiatives

Optimize Campus Resources (4.1)


  • Ensure quality and efficiency in all University operations by implementing baseline budgeting focused on strategic initiatives and strengthening programs. (4.1.1)
  • Include an evaluation of funding levels in the academic and administrative program reviews conducted on a rotating basis. (4.1.2)
  • Conduct an annual departmental faculty workload analysis to ensure responsible stewardship of resources. (4.1.3)

Increase External Support (4.2)


  • Build an expansive network of advocates, partners and champions for EKU by communicating effectively with external stakeholders and involving them meaningfully in the life of the University. (4.2.1)
  • Increase revenue from private sources by engaging alumni, friends, and corporate partners to expand support for the people, places, and programs of EKU, including a comprehensive capital fundraising campaign. (4.2.2)
  • Enhance resources through grants and contracts from federal and state agencies, corporations, and foundations. (4.2.3)
Strategic Goal #5: Campus Revitalization
Eastern Kentucky University stands at a unique moment in its historical arc.  Ours is the opportunity to transform the campus in a way which is only presented once in a generation.  We must be bold, creative, and innovative.  A chance to reshape and remake our campus is available to us and we must take advantage not only for the present, but for future generations of EKU alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends.  Indeed, what we are proposing represents “no little plan.” 

We will revitalize the Campus Beautiful by being relentless in our efforts to secure an investment in student-centric facilities.

The campus revitalization involves a significant capital investment in the Eastern campus. At the core of this revitalization will be the complete overhaul of the center of campus.  The establishment of the Center for Student Life will focus on the holistic EKU student experience: intellectual, social, physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental maturation.

Strategic Initiatives

Initiate and complete EKU Revitalization plan, which includes rehabilitation of existing facilities and construction of new ones with a focus on the EKU student experience. (5.1)


  • Conduct a campus master plan, including a comprehensive space analysis. (5.1.1)
  • Invest in the physical infrastructure of our campus, including improving technology, creating creative spaces, and enhancing curb appeal. (5.1.2)
  • Locate and secure arrangements with private partners and state appropriations. (5.1.3)
  • Address deferred maintenance. (5.1.4)
  • Prioritize sustainability. (5.1.5)
  • Prioritize efficient project administration. (5.1.6)

Strategic Goal #6: Service to Communities and Region
At Eastern Kentucky University, we will create a culture of outreach and engagement through innovative teaching and scholarship, as well as valuing engagement with our communities and regional partners. By applying our academic and professional expertise to collaborations with community stakeholders, we will improve the quality of life for the communities we serve.

We will demonstrate our commitment to our communities and Region by actively seeking out those strategic opportunities that will provide direct benefits to the people of Eastern Kentucky.

Engagement in our Region allows us to use our skills and resources in collaboration with the community to benefit both the university and our community partners. Our outreach and engagement through enhanced communication and deeper relationships will promote an improved quality of life for all community members. EKU’s commitment to enhancing our efforts to promote sustainable and measurable leadership and service to our communities and Region will be positively recognized on a national level.

Strategic Initiatives

Become the 1st Choice Partner in Regional Educational, Economic, Cultural, and Social Development (6.1)


  • Increase the number of and strengthen existing strategic partnerships in our Region with community colleges, local communities, employers, and other entities. (6.1.1)
  • Enhance support of our Region’s P-12 educational institutions for college success of students. (6.1.2)
  • Advance EKU leadership participation in regional partnerships. (6.1.3)

Become Nationally Prominent in Fields with Regional Relevance (6.2)


  • Bring distinction to our Region with nationally recognized programs, endorsements, and scholarship/research. (6.2.1)
  • Build sustainable and distinct academic and social programs focused on our Region’s critical needs. (6.2.2)

Bring EKU to Our Service Region (6.3)


  • Support EKU faculty, staff, and student engagement in regional initiatives. (6.3.1)
  • Actively promote and publicize public engagement activities to students, faculty, staff, and the community. (6.3.2)
  • Address needs, challenges, and perspectives of our Region with innovative courses, research, service, and program offerings utilizing effective delivery methods. (6.3.3)
  • Provide high-quality, responsive, and relevant programming for adults in our Region to help them complete degrees. (6.3.4)
  • Support students throughout our Region by making programs and services available locally at regional sites, on-line, and/or via a combination of delivery methods. (6.3.5)
  • Raise the knowledge capital in our Region by encouraging EKU students to remain active in or connected to our Region. (6.3.6)

Bring Our Service Region to EKU (6.4)


  • Enhance and develop University facilities that draw visitors to EKU Campuses. (6.4.1)
  • Increase the number and appeal of programs and activities for which visitors travel to EKU Campuses, such as sporting and arts events, conferences and workshops, commencement ceremonies, and annual University events. (6.4.2)
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