MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University Board of Regents has appointed Dr. Robert L. “Bob” Jackson as the 14th president of Murray State University, effective March 1, 2019.
“I am honored to serve as the 14th president of Murray State University and greatly appreciate the support and confidence of the Board of Regents,” Jackson said. “We have an important duty to this region and state and I look forward to the work ahead. The students and families of this region are counting on us to make a positive difference in their lives and to enhance the economic well-being of this area.”
“Today is an important day in the history of Murray State University and this board has determined that Dr. Jackson is the person we need at this time,” said Murray State Board of Regents Chair Susan Guess. “We have many challenges before us and we believe in him and his ability to lead us.”
During his tenure as interim president beginning Aug. 16, 2018, Jackson’s institutional leadership and support has been seen through consistent meetings, collaborations and interactions with various groups both within and outside the university including students, faculty and staff as well as alumni, elected officials, industry leaders, community partners and others who hold a relationship with Murray State.
Last summer, Jackson helped restart the Road Scholars program, a student recruitment initiative involving University students, faculty and staff who visit high schools throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky in order to enhance enrollment and relations between the university and school districts. Earlier this year, a restructured admitted student event welcomed a record 700 students who have applied and been admitted for the fall 2019 term. Since the new year under Jackson, the university has signed articulation agreements with multiple institutions, creating pathways for students to pursue and receive degrees from Murray State while strengthening impactful relationships.
Jackson has served Murray State in several capacities over the last decade, including as co-chair of the University’s 2015-22 Strategic Plan, and assumed the role of president of the Murray State University Foundation in 2013. Prior to that, he was the associate vice president for institutional advancement and government relations, where he successfully led the University’s “Hold Thy Banner High” capital campaign, which raised more than $70 million.
Under his leadership, some of the largest gifts in the university’s history have been received from generous alumni and friends. Of recent note, the Bill & Louise Hatley Estate gift of nearly $3 million was announced in July 2018, and the Eagle Rest Plantation gift, a 540-acre laboratory and research farm valued at $2.6 million, was donated in 2016 by the late Judge Jimmy Don Robinson of Ballard County.
From 1997-2004, Jackson served the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a state senator and in Senate leadership. He has served on numerous committees and task forces during his tenure, including education, appropriations and revenue, economic development, capital projects and bond oversight, among others. Jackson has worked successfully on many state and federal governmental projects and has been recognized at the state and national levels for his public service. In addition, he has worked in corporate finance and as a senior executive in investment banking, municipal finance and investment management.
Jackson has a bachelor of science degree in finance from Murray State. He has completed graduate courses in finance at Murray State and doctoral courses at the University of Leicester (UK). He holds a Master of Arts degree in higher education administration from Antioch University and a doctorate in educational leadership from Western Kentucky University.
Jackson has also earned a certificate in fundraising management from Indiana University and has attended numerous educational seminars and conferences, including the CASE Institute in Educational Fundraising at Dartmouth College. He has been a speaker on higher education and fundraising topics at state and national conferences.
He has served as president of the Murray State University Alumni Association Board of Governors, a member of the Murray State University Foundation Board of Trustees and he regularly teaches finance and other courses.
Jackson was selected as a Kentucky Leader for the New Century (40 state leaders under 40) and as a national Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments. He has been recognized by his alma mater with the distinguished Golden Horseshoe Award, the highest honor bestowed upon its alumni for service to the University. LaRue County High School (KY) recognized him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2010.
Jackson is married to the former Karen Miller, a Murray State alumna and registered nurse; they are the parents of two children, Nolan and Mariel.