Presidential candidate Davies speaks to campus community, answers questions

Presidential candidate Robert Davies speaks at an open forum Monday afternoon. Photo by Kate Russell // The News.

Presidential candidate Robert Davies speaks at an open forum Monday afternoon. Photo by Kate Russell // The News.

Presidential candidate Robert Davies spoke to students, faculty, staff and community members at today’s open forum, answering questions regarding the presidency at Murray State.

Davies addressed issues regarding budget cuts, housing and dining, athletics, international students, enrollment and his potential role as president.

Davies said he first heard about Murray State when his daughter Katie brought the University to his attention.

He said he normally turns down opportunities for other potential presidential positions, but something about Murray State stuck out to him.

“I want this to be my capstone presidency,” Davies said. “I want to be able to end my career here.”

One quality that stood out to Davies is the connection between students and faculty at Murray State.

“Those connections are what make Murray State special, it is what the history of (Murray State) is based on,” he said.

Davies said if he is named president of Murray State, he will not make a major decision at the University for six months.

Presidential candidate Robert Davies speaks at an open forum Monday afternoon. Photo by Kate Russell // The News.

Presidential candidate Robert Davies speaks at an open forum Monday afternoon. Photo by Kate Russell // The News.

“During those first six months, my job will be to listen, learn and ask questions,” he said. “I will take that time to gain from the current Murray State administration and students.”

After the six months is over, Davies said the next step will be thinking about what a regional University should be and going from there.

Taylor Chadduck, freshman from St. Louis, Mo., said she agrees with the idea of not making major changes right away and feels that feeling out the campus is the best way for the new president to learn.

“I feel it will help (Murray State) improve and to see what we need,” Chadduck said.

She hopes to see Murray State a better university than it was when she first arrived.

Davies said one aspect he would focus on at his time at Murray State is connecting with faculty, staff and students and has a goal to meet every student on campus.

“It would hurt my heart, if someone walked across the stage at Murray State and said, ‘wow, you’re the president,'” he said.

Davies said in regard to the budget of the University, it is important to remember that the budget and planning go together.

“We cannot plan our budget wishes on things that might not occur,” he said.

Davies said he hopes to be as transparent as Interim President Tim Miller has been with the University budget.

He also discussed the importance of being open with student organizations, governance and student media.

Davies touched on the importance of athletics at the University, but said these organizations should not be the primary focus of an institution.

“Universities are academic institutions first, and athletics adds to that,” he said.

Davies also touched on the integral part international students, research, dining services, the honors program and the residential college system play at the University.

Diversity was another issue Davies took a strong stance on. He said it is an effort he takes seriously.

“If we are a University, and we cannot let people be who they are, then what kind of University are we?” Davis said.

Landon Bates, freshman from Shelbyville, Ky., said the subject of diversity is of major importance in the new President.

“Being more diverse will broaden acceptance (at Murray State) which will only improve the University,” Bates said.

Raising the quality of students and not just the numbers is something Bates said is important in the new president as well.

Davies said he is looking forward to transitioning from a small to larger University. EOU has less than half of the total enrollment of Murray State, with 4,157 students enrolled there.

Davies stressed the importance of higher education and the role it plays in today’s society and job market.

Before closing, Davies shared a few personal thoughts about Murray State and his possible role at the University.

“You guys have something special here, something beyond what I expected,” he said.

There is a link located on the Murray State homepage and MyGate to post feedback on Davies. The link will be available until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Story by Rebecca Walter, staff writer