Council on Postsecondary Education presidential search narrows to three finalists

FRANKFORT, Ky. – 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.

“Following a thorough and exhaustive national search process, we are confident that all three candidates possess exceptional qualities of leadership and the experience and passion to be the next great leader of CPE,” said Ron Beal, CPE member and chair of the nine-member presidential search committee.

Dr. Robert Donely

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.

View Dr. Donley’s curriculum vitae

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.

House earned a Bachelor of Science in policy analysis and management from Cornell University, a master’s of public policy, higher education policy from Vanderbilt University, and a Master of Arts in statistics and a doctorate in quantitative research methods in education from the University of Michigan.

View Dr. House’s curriculum vitae

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.

View Dr. Thompson’s curriculum vitae

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.

The vacancy was created by the retirement of Robert L. King, who served as president for nearly 10 years.

The meeting today is the seventh meeting of the search committee, which held its first meeting in May. AGB Search conducted the search.

The agenda for today’s meeting is available here.

For more information on the presidential search, visit cpe.ky.gov/aboutus/presidentialsearch.html.

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