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CU: Spears is first chancellor for university system advancement

By Joan C. McKinney

Campbellsville, KY - Dr. H. Keith Spears, 11th president at Campbellsville University since Jan. 1, 2021, has been appointed the university's first chancellor.

Spears was presented the title of chancellor for university system advancement by President Joseph Hopkins at the February Campbellsville University Board of Trustees meeting.

Spears served as 11th president of the university following the retirement of Dr. Michael V. Carter in December 2020.

Dr. Joseph Hopkins became the university's 12th president effective Feb. 1, 2022.

President Hopkins said, "As I step into the role of president for the university, I cannot imagine a better person to have at my side than Keith. His successes in the world of higher education speak for themselves. People with Keith's abilities are hard to find. Campbellsville University was fortunate to have him lead as president and is now in a strong position with him as chancellor for university system advancement."

In Spears' new role, he will explore new opportunities for the university and new program development. He will be the "chief innovator" for the university Hopkins said.

"Keith Spears led Campbellsville University well as president. I have no doubt that he will excel in this new role, and Campbellsville University will be stronger for his efforts," Henry Lee, chairman of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, said.

Spears has served Campbellsville University since 2009. His leadership roles have changed over the years leading up to his extensive work in the president's office.

Spears was innovative in his work with graduate business degree programs that operate out of the Louisville Education Center, one of several centers Spears worked to establish throughout Kentucky, across the United States and abroad.

The university was recently approved by the Ministry of Education in Ontario, Canada for yet another new center, which will operate in Windsor, Ontario.

"I love viewing higher education from different lenses," Spears said. "The opportunity to go out and find new horizons, to explore the unknown and challenge the university to excel in new ways is beyond exciting to me.

"I am honored that President Hopkins, who shares this same vision, and our Board of Trustees wants me to continue with Campbellsville University. There is unity in our belief that this institution has a bright future."

Spears led the President's Cabinet, comprised of the vice presidents and other key administrators of the university. "I am indebted to this group of student-focused leaders, who provided daily support and helped steer CU during our transition," he said.

Spears was honored Feb. 2 with a reception for his work as president.

"The outpouring of thanks has been overwhelming, in affirmation. Campbellsville University is my home," Spears said.

After developing the Louisville Education Center and other regional centers, Spears served as vice president for communication and assistant to the president at Campbellsville University from 2016 until the summer of 2019 when he was named senior vice president.

Spears has brought entrepreneurial ideas to the university with the creation and expansion of online programs in China, offices in India and with preliminary results for new academic opportunities in Europe, Africa and Central America.

Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs said, "I have worked closely with Keith Spears over the past several years. He has a way of seeing opportunities that others can't. I am pleased to see what the future holds as he focuses on leading the university toward new, bold initiatives."

Prior to coming to Campbellsville University, Spears was a member of West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's staff in Education and the Arts. Before that appointment, he was at Marshall University for 28 years, leaving that institution as vice president for advancement.

He and his wife, Rita Kay Spears, and their family have dedicated their careers to education and public service. Rita is a former adult student advisor at Marshall University.

They have two children: Eric Keith Spears, Ph.D., professor and Eminent Scholar and chair of International Education at Columbus State University in Georgia who is married to Marina B. Spears, professor of English at Middle Georgia State University. The Honorable Jason M. Spears, J.D., is a former prosecutor and now, a family court judge in Cabell County, W.Va. They have three grandchildren: Clara and Lucas in Georgia and Amelia in West Virginia.

This story was posted on 2022-02-15 14:15:39
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Dr. H. Keith Spears

2022-02-15 - Campbellsville, KY - Photo courtesy Campbellsville University.
Dr. H. Keith Spears, 11th president at Campbellsville University since Jan. 1, 2021, has been appointed the university's first chancellor.

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