Dear University Community,
I am very excited about assuming the interim presidency at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I have been acquainted with Embry-Riddle since 1999 when President Ebbs asked me to join the President’s Advisory Board and then the Board of Trustees in 2002. Through these experiences, I gained a deep appreciation of the University. I left the Board in 2004, then at President Johnson’s invitation rejoined in 2007 after retiring from Ohio State University.
In recent years, I have chaired the Academic Committee and seen the remarkable expansion of highly relevant degree programs — including numerous B.S./M.S. degree combinations and seven Ph.D.s. The addition of the Ph.D. programs moved Embry-Riddle to another echelon of institutions and attracts top-notch faculty and students. I have served on other committees (development, investment, executive and the research park board) as well, and mention these only because they have been helpful in providing a fuller understanding of the University.
Over these 17 years, I have seen incredible changes in virtually every aspect of the University (all three campuses) — from the physical plants at Daytona Beach and Prescott to the academic programs and the ability to recruit high-quality and committed faculty to the increase in the research enterprise and industrial partnerships. Embry-Riddle students have always been motivated and self-directed and are invested in the success of their institution as well as their own career development. The changes, overall, have been dramatic and attest to excellent leadership and commitment at all levels of the institution.
Today, the University is strong and continuing to grow in all its dimensions: Enrollments are increasing, externally funded research is growing and research infrastructure is showing impressive advances with the addition of a research park and a new $10 million wind tunnel. Other major equipment for research is available for use by faculty, students and staff, giving students, in particular, hands-on experience that prepares them for their futures. Athletics engages academically stellar students and produces winning results in competitions. However, buildings, equipment and winning teams are not all that count. It is the experiences that faculty, students and staff share together in the classroom and the field that change lives. The success of Embry-Riddle is measured by the outcomes of the students who study here, and this also contributes to one of the many ways the University’s reputation is earned. While we rank first — and have held that position for many years — in the U.S. News & World Report ranking for undergraduate aerospace engineering and best in online bachelor’s degrees, there are many other ranking systems we need to be aware of and seek to become highly positioned.
I know from the years of upward mobility that everyone connected with Embry-Riddle will continue to work in every way possible to move the institution forward—at the Daytona Beach, Prescott and Worldwide campuses. Each will have somewhat different goals, but all will be committed to providing the best possible experience for the students. I look forward to a very intense period of learning from all of you about what matters most, and where you see opportunities for Embry-Riddle to make progress so that during this year we can set the stage for an incoming permanent president. I hope to use my experience as a university professor, dean, vice president (both academic and research), internationalist and president to make this a very active and successful year. I am grateful for the honor of working with all of you, as well as members of our community, industry, state, nation and international colleagues on behalf of Embry-Riddle.
Karen A. Holbrook