MURRAY - The Murray State University Board of Regents named Robert "Bob" Davies as the school's next president Wednesday.
Davies, president of Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Ore., since 2009, will become Murray State's 13th president. His tenure is set to begin July 14, and he will earn an annual salary of $300,000, according to board chairman Constantine Curris.
Curris mentioned Davies' noticeable exuberance and passion for the position and positive recommendations from faculty, staff and students at Eastern Oregon University. He also cited the overwhelmingly upbeat reception for Davies from many departments and factions at MSU.
"There was strong support for him within the university and in many constituency groups," Curris said.
He said Davies also met many of the criteria put forth by the board, including strong interpersonal skills on campus, fundraising skills with alumni groups and building connections in the state legislature. He commended Davies' ability to maintain effective working relationships within the community and with university boards.
The Board of Regents met in a short executive session during the first half of the quarterly meeting to discuss the finalists, Davies and James Smith, president of Northeastern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., and review online survey feedback from the community forums. Both men were on campus Monday and Tuesday to meet with school and community groups, tour the campus and interview with the full Board of Regents.
The board then unanimously voted to offer the position to Davies, following his verbal agreement to the basic tenets while on the phone with Curris. His contract is set to be finalized within the upcoming weeks.
"He (Davies) accepted the job with great enthusiasm and is looking forward to being part of the Murray State team," Curris said.
Steve Williams, regent and chairman of the Presidential Search Committee, agreed, adding: "He is the best choice for Murray State. This is an important day, and we are excited about the university's future."
Davies said Wednesday that he was elated to receive the news and after spending several days on campus with his wife, Cindy, he fell in love with Murray State's tight-knit and friendly community.
"As I meet each new group on campus, I become more and more convinced that this was the right place for me professionally and personally," he said. "I'm ecstatic to be invited in, to lead and to be an active member in the community."
He again emphasized the importance of transparency and openness in the role of the president and said he plans to take the first six months of his term to learn rather than act.
Davies and his family will make several trips to Murray before taking office and then plans to work closely with interim president Tim Miller and other administrative leaders during the transition. He will then set short- and long-term goals and an overall strategic plan. He said Miller will leave big shoes to fill but he plans to live up to the standards and promises he set forth during his visit.
"My first role will be in discovery mode to find out more and more in-depth information about the culture, nuances and intangibles that make Murray State so special," he said.
He has 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 State University of New York at 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.
Davies has a bachelor's degree in management from the University of Nevada at Reno; a master's degree in business administration from the University of Oregon in Eugene, and a doctorate in higher education administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Prior to announcing the school's next leader, regents bestowed an honor on Miller by removing the interim title. He is now the university's 12th president until his official retirement in June. The title represents an acknowledgment and praise for his dedication and lifelong service to the school, Curris said.
Miller, who has served as interim president since July and 18 months in total across two tenures, said he was honored and moved by the recognition. He is the first university president to also be a school alumnus and has been with Murray State in some capacity more than 40 years.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.