Vic Adams named Gateway interim president as Keith Bird steps down

March 18, 2016

By Vicki Prichard

NKyTribune reporter

Dr. Vic Adams, vice president and chief workforce officer for Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, has been named Gateway’s second interim president since the resignation of Ed Hughes.

Dr. Vic Adams
Dr. Vic Adams

KCTCS President Jay Box made the announcement of Adams’ appointment at Thursday evening’s Gateway Board of Director’s meeting.

The appointment came after interim president Dr. Keith Bird told Box that he was not interested in an extension of his six-month contract due to family health issues.

“My wife’s elderly mother is ill,” he told the NKyTribune, “and I’m needed back home.”

Bird became interim president after former President Ed Hughes, retired abruptly in September 2015 after 15 years as president of Gateway. Bird’s contract runs through March 31.

Adams, a native of Middlesboro, is also campus director for the SKCTC Middlesboro campus, which, Box pointed out, is the largest campus of the SKCTC.

He described Adams as well known for his workforce development and fundraising in the southeastern region of the state.

With more than 20 years of experience in workforce education and community economic development, Adams has worked extensively with the state’s mining industry, which, he says, is now a very technical field. He also serves on the National Council for Workforce Education.

Bird, Chancellor Emeritus of KCTCS, assumed the interim role on Oct. 1, 2015, with a six-month commitment that was to be extended on a month-to-month basis until a new president is hired.

Instead he will depart at the end of the month and Adams will step into the position April 1.

“If it weren’t for personal health issues with his mother-in-law we would have absolutely lobbied to have him be the next president, whether it was just a year, or we could have him for another twelve months because he’s really made a change in what’s happening here,” says Gateway board of directors vice chair Ken Paul.

Paul ran the meeting since board chairman Jeff Groob is currently out of the country.

Bird says he has spent much time with Adams and would like to think that he is “a mentor to him.” He describes him as “sort of a fixture in southeast Kentucky” and considers him a person who is up and coming.

Describing the announcement as “bittersweet,” Bird reflected on his time at Gateway, telling the board that he recently looked back at his first original report to them and the progress report of items they addressed.

“This board suggested a number of initiatives that are becoming realized.” says Bird.

When Bird assumed the role of interim president in October 2015 he said he had no interest in being considered a permanent replacement for Hughes. Nor did he come to Gateway simply to fill a seat until the new president was chosen, he said at the time.

In further reflecting on Bird’s role as interim and his impact, Paul noted that years ago, when Bird was KCTCS Chancellor, he helped with the study that created Gateway and knew the foundation of what the school was about.

Last week, a story by reporter Jim McNair, with the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, revealed that Hughes will receive $348,000 incentive from the private foundation set up to support the school.

The report prompted State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, to call for an investigation of the compensation of all former Kentucky college presidents.

The issue of the incentive agreement was not on the board’s agenda and did not come up at the meeting.

Looking ahead for Gateway, board member Paul spoke to the change the college is now seeking and the “shift” that’s taking place.

“We kind of went through this ‘build it and they will come.’ Now the paradigm has changed – we’ve shifted – in that we need to produce the programs that the students and the business community actually need. So, there’s just a shift,” said Paul.

“The comparison I look at is in managing. In any corporation, sometimes its centralized, where everything needs to be approved by the home office, and in other management, everything is decentralized; each entity can have responsibility for their own entity. Now that’s just the change that we’re looking at.”

Box told the board that the process has started to find a new president with an announcement of a selection committee made on March 8.

Review of applications will begin April 11th; from April 13 through 27, candidate portfolios will be reviewed.

The committee will narrow the list to ten candidates, at which point candidates will have until May 9th to submit a ten-minute video. Finalists will be determined by May 17th and Box says he expects to have a new president selected by July 1.

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