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MSU names two finalists for president

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

After months of maintaining confidentiality over the hiring process, Murray State University has named two finalists for president.

Robert "Bob" Davies, president of Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Ore., since July 2009, and James Smith, president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., are finalists for the MSU job, according to vice president of communications Catherine Sivills. Both men will visit the university early next week.

The third finalist withdrew Thursday ,citing health issues.

Davies said Friday he was honored and humbled to reach this point in the selection process and cited Murray State's national reputation for academic success and community-minded programs.

"Murray State is known nationally for its focus on the student experience," he said. "It's a diverse college and a melting pot of ideas and well-rounded individuals."

"Murray State understands that a college isn't just contained inside a campus but is interconnected within the economic, civil and social life of the entire community," he said. "The role of the president is to have a visible presence and to set the tone daily."

During his tenure at Eastern Oregon University, Davies said, he is most proud of the community and educational initiatives fostered through the Eastern Promise program, which introduces middle and high school students to post-secondary opportunities. He also mentioned his work balancing tight budgets while maintaining high quality programming and growing the school's statewide presence with legislators.

He previously served as director of annual giving at the University of Nevada in Reno, Nev.; executive director of Boise State University Alumni Association in Boise, Idaho; associate vice president for advancement at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., and vice president of university relations and executive director of the foundation at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pa.

Smith earned a bachelor's degree of science in elementary education from Miami University in Ohio, as well as a master's degree of educational administration from Xavier University in Ohio. He later earned his doctorate of philosophy from Miami University.

Smith has been the president of Northern State University since 2009. Other positions served include vice president for economic development and regional growth with Bowling Green State University in Ohio, dean of Firelands College with Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and dean of the School of Education with Indiana University in South Bend.

Comments from Smith were not available because his status was not released until late in the day. He did not immediately return calls.

Davies will visit the campus Monday and Smith on Tuesday for meetings with interim president Tim Miller, academic deans, executive officers, trustees, and representatives of faculty, staff and student populations.

Each man will tour campus and participate in an open forum at 4 p.m. in Wrather Auditorium on his respective day.

Davies will interview with the Board of Regents on Tuesday morning in Pogue Library, and Smith will follow.

Following the interviews, the board will meet to discuss the candidates and select the school's 12th president during its quarterly session Wednesday.

Sun staff writer Corianne Egan contributed to this report.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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