Regent secures University finances

 This is the eighth installment of a 12-part series profiling the representatives who make final University decisions.

Harry Lee Waterfield II, Board of Regents member, said his love for western Kentucky is a driving force to maintain the integrity of Murray State.

Waterfield is also chair of the audit and compliance committee, one of the several groups making up the board.

While educational aspects are important to Waterfield, he said making financial decisions for the University is his primary responsibility.

“My main interest is maintaining the viability of the school,” Waterfield said. “I’m not an educator myself, although I’m always impressed with what they do.”

The committee works with auditors every year to evaluate various programs at the University. Murray State is required to assess 25 percent of their expenditures to ensure their validity. The largest program auditors review is student financial aid because of the immense sum of money it entails.

Waterfield said the committee is vital to maintain a reliable image with Kentucky public education. After holding meetings with internal and external auditors, Waterfield and the committee present their work to the board.

Before his appointment to the Board of Regents, Waterfield was a member of the Murray State University Foundation for eight years. Waterfield took the place of his father on the foundation, who died in 1988.

Although Waterfield attended the University of Kentucky and has spent much of his life in Frankfort, Ky., he said Murray State has always been close to him. Waterfield was raised in close-by Hickman County, Ky., where he said his love for western Kentucky developed.

“I was born in Murray because Hickman didn’t have a hospital; my grandmother lived in Murray and I spent a lot of time there as a kid,” Waterfield said. “It’s a personal feeling I have with the region, even though I didn’t go to school there.”

Waterfield said a strong college education is vital to the region for business and industry attraction.

According to Waterfield, western Kentucky needs Murray State because many recent graduates stay in the area to work.

“I know the agricultural aspect is vital to the area,” Waterfield said. “Education is key, even some students who leave to go to medical school come back to the area to help the community.”

Throughout his career, Waterfield has held many leadership positions, which he believes gave him the experience necessary to become a regent.

He is currently the president, chief executive officer and chair of the Board of Investors Heritage Life Insurance Company and Investors Heritage Capital Corporation in Frankfort, Ky.

Among several other leadership roles, Waterfield has also been recognized for his help in the community.

He is a past president of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, an organization that pairs children in need with an adult role model.

Waterfield is also a former Kentucky Air National Guard member.

Waterfield served on the board for Kentucky State University, which he said really opened his eyes to how a college works.

He said his leadership and business experience has motivated his success with the board, but many other factors have as well.

“Being a (former) college student and having kids going to college helps me see what students face,” Waterfield said.

Waterfield and his wife, Lee, have two sons, two daughters and five grandsons.

He said he understands the financial stresses families go through and always works with the board to minimize raises in tuition.

“We all back up the decisions made and work together,” Waterfield said. “It has made it very easy to serve on the board.”

 Story by Lexy Gross, assistant news editor.