Robert Davies to lead CMU as 15th president
A new academic year at Central Michigan University brings a new set of classes, new adventures and new faces.
Among this year's newcomers is CMU's new president, Robert Davies.
Davies, former president of Murray State University, will assume his new position as the face and 15th president of CMU on Sept. 1, shortly after classes begin Aug. 27.
“Central Michigan University is very very stellar and I look forward to working with all of you – the faculty, the staff, the alumni, community leaders – as we fulfill a promise by putting a stamp on the world,” Davies said at an Aug. 3 press conference.
Davies has recently been on campus – for his appointment as the new president at a Board of Trustees special formal session on Aug. 3 and Leadership Safari on Aug. 19.
When meeting new students, Davies' enthusiasm shows. The new-to-Michigan president is quick to ask where students are from, prompting them to use their Michigan-shaped hands as relative maps.
Accompanied by his wife and daughter, Cindy and Katie, Davies will be leaving Kentucky, where he worked for four years. Prior to Murray State University, Davies was president of Eastern Oregon University and vice president for university relations at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“I believe that anyone working on a university campus has the best job in the world,” Davies said. “Why is that? Because every day in our classrooms, in our facilities, in our labs, in our dormitories, across our campus, we are indeed creating the future.”
Davies has spent his entire life as part of a university community – his parents were both administrators at universities as well, making for unique dinner table conversations.
CMU had already been on Davies' radar because of its focus on students, he said, and its national status as a research institution attracted him, but he wasn't looking for a new job. In late June he said he received a call about the job, and given a prompt deadline to apply.
CMU hired Witt/Kieffer, an Illinois-based executive search firm, to conduct the search for a new president, after President George Ross announced in January that he would be stepping down on July 31.
After months of a confidential and closed search, the CMU community was introduced to Davies, who said he plans to conduct business at CMU with “rigor, relevance and excellence.”
As president, it will be his job to be an active and influential leader, work closely with the board of trustees and advocate for resources and CMU's reputation.
At a press conference following Davies' appointment, he said he intends to keep students and faculty at the forefront of his mind while representing the university.
Just the same, faculty at CMU hope for a personal relationship with President Davies.
“CMU’s teaching and research excellence is driven by the faculty," said Faculty Association President Anthony Feig. "We look forward to the president winning our minds and hearts with deeds and actions."
During his time as president, Feig hopes Davies will “mix” with the faculty more than his predecessor.
“I’d like the president to visit a classroom – he can visit my classroom,” Feig said, who will be teaching geography during the fall semester. “I hope he gets his hands dirty with us. Take a visit to a lab, sit down and chat with us. Let's not maintain a distance between the faculty and the leadership.”
Union of Teaching Faculty President Scot Squires said the organization is looking forward to working with Davies, and hopes that he keeps his focus on students and academics.
“I hope that he put students first (and) keeps tuition down for students, including fees,” he said. “I hope that he looks to integrate new programs, too.”
With CMU being a major presence in the small town of Mount Pleasant, Mayor Allison Quast-Lents hopes Davies will be continue to strengthen the bond between the university and the city.
“Most importantly, what I’m concerned about is somebody who really knows how to integrate with a community,” Quast-Lents said. “(That) is something that I heard in the conversations around the community — that we really wanted to make sure the next president of CMU is someone who understood that CMU is part of this greater Mount Pleasant community.”
As faculty, students and community members expressed enthusiasm for Davies to begin his tenure as president, he said he is just as thrilled to begin his time at CMU.
"At the foundation of Central Michigan University -- and it is so prevalent in everything that we do - there is such pride and loyalty," Davies said. "For the 24,000 plus students and the faculty and staff, the 225,000 alumni around the world, the community members that are also advocates to this fine institution, that is the power that sets ourselves and we move forward to put that stamp on the world."