Eastern Kentucky University could name its next — but not so new — president if the university’s Board of Regents approves its search committee choice at its meeting next month.

The university’s presidential search committee voted unanimously Monday to remove the interim tag from David McFaddin, who has served as EKU’s interim president since December. McFaddin’s performance navigating the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a “real-world, on-the-job interview process,” said search committee co-chairs Bryan Makinen and Jason Marion in a news release. The Board of Regents next meeting is Sept. 10.

“We feel that he has performed extraordinarily, and possesses the visionary and strategic leadership skills that Eastern deserves in its next leader,” Makinen and Marion said in a joint statement. “We are confident that his working relationships with key stakeholder groups will not only provide EKU with stability at this critical moment in the university’s history, but he will also continue to advance the university alongside his existing leadership team.”

EKU students start classes Aug. 17. The campus has reopened and students will go through a mix of online instruction and in-person instruction in spaced out classrooms, the university’s reopening plan shows. In a late July update to the campus, McFaddin wrote that the university will work to offer COVID-19 testing to symptomatic students while also encouraging students to get tested before returning for classes.

McFaddin, of Paintsville, earned a bachelor’s degree in public relations from EKU in 1999. He held leadership positions at BellSouth Telecommunications and later AT&T. He became an EKU faculty member in 2011 and was later named the university’s Executive Director of Government Relations in 2013 while also serving as the president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. He served on the president’s council since 2013.

Michael Benson, the university’s previous president who held the post since 2013, stepped down in December to go on an extended sabbatical.

The board formed a presidential search committee in late February, but had to quickly postpone its search because of the pandemic.

Because the search process was delayed, no candidates had applied for the position, the Richmond Register reported.

“A traditional presidential search would have consisted of faculty forums, staff forums, alumni forums, community forums and the advertisement generation,” Marion told the paper. “There was also concern about the ability to recruit and attract a talent pool particularly from industry and higher education where many people were absolutely consumed, as many may still be today, with the COVID-19 situation.”

EKU is not the first Central Kentucky university to remove the interim tag off a president for their performance during the pandemic. In May, Transylvania University’s board promoted President John Williams while he held the interim post until Brien Lewis, the incoming president, took over in July.

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