Austin Peay names interim president

    Austin Peay State University (Photo: APSU Instagram)
    Austin Peay State University (Photo: APSU Instagram)

    In a special meeting Monday morning, the Austin Peay State University board of trustees named Dannelle Whiteside as the university’s interim president until a permanent president is found. 

    APSU’s president for six years, Alisa White, unexpectedly announced June 19 that she will step down in August after commencement ceremonies to take the position as president of Sam Houston State University in Texas. Austin Peay is hosting commencements Aug. 6 and Aug. 7 for both summer graduates as well as spring graduates whose ceremonies were canceled in May due to the COVID19 pandemic.

    Dannelle Whiteside, interim president, Austin Peay State University (Photo: APSU)
    Dannelle Whiteside, interim president, Austin Peay State University (Photo: APSU)

    “You will be missed and difficult to replace,” Mike O’Malley, chair of the APSU Board of Trustees, said to White in the Zoom meeting. “But that’s our goal, to bring in a new leader that will continue the progress you have made.”

    If White is confirmed by the Texas State University System Board of Regents, Whiteside will begin serving as interim president on Aug. 10.

    Whiteside is currently the vice president of legal affairs and secretary to the board of trustees. She joined the university in 2016 as the first general counsel for APSU. Before that, she was general attorney for the Department of Education, and she also served as general counsel for Tennessee State Board of Education. 

    O’Malley said that the board will announce how it plans to go about the search for a permanent president in the coming weeks. He also recognized others that the campus community had recommended for interim president: Ron Bailey, vice president for external affairs; Mitch Robinson, vice president for finance and administration; and Maria Cronley, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

    White is the second administrator in less than a year to leave the university, after former provost Rex Gandy retired in May. Cronley, who was most recently the provost at Ohio Northern University, began her new position at APSU this month. 

    At the Monday meeting, it was also announced that due to COVID19, the administration was recommending a 0% increase in both tuition and mandatory fees. The board voted to approve. In its summer meeting on June 5, the board approved a $164 million proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. The previous year’s proposed budget was $161 million. The university recently formed a Financial Planning Task Force due to potential losses from a “possible 12% reduction in state appropriations and a potential reduction in enrollment” because of the coronavirus.