Welcome to the CPE Presidential Search page. The purpose of this page is to provide information to potential candidates and to keep the public updated on the progress. Thank you for your interest in the presidential search process.
The Council on Postsecondary Education’s Presidential Search Committee has recommended three finalists for the position of Council president. In alphabetical order, the finalists are Dr. Robert Donley, Dr. Emily House and Dr. Aaron Thompson. The Council is expected to meet Oct. 25 at 10 a.m. to interview the finalists and could choose to make its selection following the meeting.
Dr. Robert Donley
Dr. Robert Donley served as the executive director and chief executive officer for the Board of Regents, State University System of Iowa, from 2008-2017. Previously, he served as chief of staff and operations for the Board of Governors, State University System of Florida, and as director of public affairs and chief of staff at Florida International University. Earlier in his career, he held the position of deputy secretary of state/chief of staff in Rhode Island and served as a policy officer for the Rhode Island State Senate.
Donley holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in political science and the other in history, both from the University of Rhode Island. He also earned a Master of Science in education (K-12) from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and a doctorate of education in higher education administration from Northeastern University in Massachusetts.
Dr. Emily House
Dr. Emily Anne House currently serves as chief policy and strategy officer for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) and the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation. She has held a variety of research positions at THEC since 2013, including serving as chief research officer. She currently is teaching a graduate-level research design course for Vanderbilt University this fall and has other teaching experience at East Tennessee State University and the University of Michigan.
Dr. House earned a Bachelor of Science in policy analysis and management from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and a doctorate in quantitative research methods in education from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Aaron Thompson
Dr. Aaron Thompson currently serves as executive vice president and chief academic officer for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. He came to the Council in 2009 from Eastern Kentucky University, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including associate vice president for academic affairs, university programs. In May 2016, he left the Council to serve as interim president for Kentucky State University and returned to the Council in summer 2017. Thompson also is a current professor in the department of educational leadership and policy studies at EKU, serves on a variety of state boards and as national board chair for the National Council on Community and Education Partnerships.
Thompson earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science and sociology from EKU, a master’s degree in sociology and a doctorate in sociology, both from the University of Kentucky.
The Council's role in presidential selection is outlined in KRS 164.103.
- July 17 – Presidential search to launch, including print and online advertisements
- September 4 – Deadline for applications
- October 3-4 – Interviews with semi-finalists
- October 16 -- Announcement of finalists
- October 25 -- Interview with finalists
Search Committee Membership
This committee oversees the CPE presidential search process, including identifying and evaluating candidates, and making a recommendation to the full board.
- Ron Beal, chair
- Ben Brandstetter
- Robert Staat
- Kim Halbauer
- Donna Moore
- Shawn Reynolds
- Sebastian Torres
- Michael Benson, EKU president
- Sherrill Zimmerman, ex-officio
Search Committee Meetings
Note: Meeting minutes must be approved in a consequent meeting before posting. There may be some delay in access.
|Date & Time||Location||Agenda||Minutes|
|Oct 16, 2018||Council Offices, Conference Room A||Link|
|Oct 11, 2018||Council Offices, Conference Room C||Link|
|Oct 3-4, 2018||Cincinnati Airport Marriott||Link||Link|
|Sept 20, 2018||Council Offices, Conference Room B||Link||Link|
June 21, 2018
Council Offices, Conference Room A
May 24, 2018
Council Offices, Conference Room A
|May 14, 2018||
Council Offices, Conference Room A
For questions about CPE's presidential search, contact the Council's General Counsel, Travis Powell, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Job Announcement/Position Overview
The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) is in the process of selecting candidates for the position of President with an ideal start date in December 2018.
The CPE is a state agency composed of 15 voting members appointed by the Governor. It is responsible for the coordination of a multi-sector, statewide higher education enterprise comprising Kentucky’s public universities and community and technical colleges serving nearly 250,000 students. In addition, the CPE coordinates with Kentucky’s private and independent colleges and universities and licenses private for-profit and nonprofit institutions operating in the state. CPE also facilitates Kentucky’s adult education program, which provides free skill-building services in all 120 counties to prepare adults for credentials, college, and career.
The new CPE President will join Council members, university and college presidents, and the CPE staff in advancing the Council’s mission to enhance the health and well-being of Kentucky’s citizens and strengthen its workforce and economy through increased educational attainment. The Council seeks an individual with the ability to advance its bold vision for higher education captured in "Stronger by Degrees," the 2016-2021 strategic agenda for postsecondary and adult education, and its “60x30 Goal” of 60% of working-age Kentuckians with a degree or credential by 2030. The CPE President serves as the primary advocate for postsecondary education and advisor to the Governor and General Assembly on matters of postsecondary education in Kentucky. New leadership will follow the admirable ten-year service of Robert King.
The Council seeks an individual possessing exceptional qualities of leadership, statesmanship, and an unquestionable commitment to the Council’s vision, mission, and values. The President should be imaginative and forward thinking, a decision-maker who will advance the CPE with collaborative, deliberate actions. The President must implement best practices and develop new ones as both a team-builder and team player with both internal staff and external constituents. The President will engage in creative, hands-on problem solving while carrying out the goals and policies of the CPE in a responsive strategic manner. Building upon the CPE's past accomplishments, the candidate will be a thought-leader and sensitive change-agent who will welcome the challenge and opportunity of leadership.
- Effective, supportive internal leader for the Council on Postsecondary Education balanced by a dynamic external presence statewide;
- Transformative and resourceful management style with a vision for the long-term success of the CPE;
- Proven success in fiscal oversight, budget planning, and funding models;
- Capacity to be nimble, responsive, and forthcoming in a complex political milieu, developing and sustaining positive relationships with state officials, campus leadership, policymakers, and the public;
- Knowledge of governing board responsibilities to support both the CPE and public university and community and technical college system governing bodies, merging institutional directions and statewide policies;
- Politically astute with the ability to coordinate interconnected missions in P-12 education, business, workforce, and state agency goals;
- Understanding of national higher education issues and trends and their impact on Kentucky;
- Inspirational, personable, and genuine with excellent engagement, listening, and communication skills;
- Significant senior-level administrative experience in a higher education, government, or business setting;
- Experience as a professional in the field of postsecondary education; and
- An excellent academic and administrative background with an earned terminal degree from an accredited institution of higher education (preferred).
Applications and Nominations
The period for application submisson is closed. Candidate selection and interviews will be conducted during the month of October.
The search is being assisted by James McCormick, Tom Layzell, and Janice Fitzgerald, Executive Search Consultants. Contact may be made at email@example.com, 651-238-5188; firstname.lastname@example.org, 217-691-0462; or email@example.com, 717-580-0663.
The Commonwealth of Kentucky does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, ancestry, age, disability, political affiliation, genetic information, or veteran status in accordance with state and federal laws.
The Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) is nationally known for its Strategic Agenda, which continues to drive significant progress and reforms to increase educational attainment, improve the health and well-being of citizens, and strengthen the workforce and economy. As outlined in this master plan, the Council strives to accomplish these goals through innovative, high-quality and research-based strategies that will improve student opportunity and success.
The Council's goal is to raise educational attainment of the working-age population to 60 percent by 2030 through high-demand workforce certificates, associate degrees, and bachelor's and above. The most recent Progress Report showed that Kentucky is ahead of its goal.
Working with campuses, the Council has facilitated several high-impact initiatives: a new Statewide Plan for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to increase the success of underrepresented minority, low-income and underprepared students; advancing the corequisite model for students in need of developmental education; and a performance funding model that was endorsed by all campus presidents, received bipartisan legislative support and signed into law by the Governor last year.
Established as part of the education reforms set forth in the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, the Council on Postsecondary Education is Kentucky's statewide postsecondary and adult education coordinating agency.
The CPE is the state’s coordinating agency for colleges, universities and local adult education centers. We work with campuses and adult education centers to improve educational opportunity and raise educational attainment to build a stronger workforce, economy and quality of life for Kentuckians.
- Council roles and responsibilities
- Council membership
- Council executive leadership
- Council's organizational structure
- Council funding overview
About Kentucky Higher Education
- Kentucky's 60x30 goal
- Kentucky's 2016-21 Strategic Agenda for Postsecondary and Adult Education
- Kentucky's public institutions
- Quick facts about Kentucky's postsecondary education institutions
Kentucky's Plan for Economic Development
One of Governor Matt Bevin's key priorities is for Kentucky to become the epicenter of engineering and manufacturing excellence in America. Toward that end, Bevin has launched several education initiatives, including the Work Ready Skills Initiative, a $100 million partnership program among businesses, employers and educational institutions to expand career and technical education programs across the state. Kentucky has also expanded dual credit opportunities, stackable certificates and apprenticeship programs, as well as promoting alignment of curriculum to workplace skills.
- Governor's priorities for economic development
- Why Kentucky for economic development
- Kentucky's workforce initiatives
Living in Kentucky
From horse racing and bourbon, to the culture of Appalachia, bluegrass music and Abraham Lincoln, Kentucky is a state rich with deep traditions, important history and authentic heritage.