- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

MURRAY, Ky. (AP) - Murray State University has narrowed its presidential search down to two finalists after a third person dropped out because of health issues. The next president is expected to be selected Wednesday.

University Vice President of Communications Catherine Sivills told The Paducah Sun and Murray Ledger & Times that Robert “Bob” Davies, president of Eastern Oregon University in La Grande, Ore., and James Smith, president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., are finalists for the position.

Both men will visit the campus in Kentucky in the coming week.

Each man will tour campus and participate in an open forum in Wrather Auditorium.

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

“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,” Davies 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.

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.

Smith was not available for comment late Friday. 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.

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


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