RICHMOND, Ky. - Dr. Hayward M. Daugherty, Jr. -- better known as "Skip" to generations of Eastern Kentucky University students, faculty and staff -- has been named vice president for student affairs and campus life by EKU President Michael T. Benson in a recent restructure of administrative roles.
"I even sign my name as Skip," Daugherty said in his trademark affable manner, matter-of-fact but followed by a chuckle. "No one has ever called me Hayward."
At age 73, when many people are enjoying retirement, Daugherty is busier than ever. In his new role as vice president, he oversees the assistant vice president for student affairs, the offices of housing and residence life, campus recreation/student life, dining, dean of students, and athletics. He will also continue to serve as executive director for the EKU Center for the Arts.
Why take on more responsibility? He jokes that retirement is just not my thing "I don't play golf, I don't fish and I don't hunt," Daugherty said.
In truth, he sees the new position as a chance to make EKU's student experience even better. It was his student experience at EKU, after all, that charted his course in life.
Daugherty came to Eastern in 1964 as a walk-on football player. Since graduation, he has become more than a part of the fabric of the University -- over nearly six decades of service, he's woven much of it himself. Even during a brief attempt at retirement a few years back, he continued to stay involved with EKU.
"The key for me is, I have to be making a difference. I've never had a job at Eastern, I've always had a career," Daugherty said. "I love Eastern. I love the concept. It's provided me such an opportunity. I mean, who would have thought an army brat who moved every two years, one of seven kids, would have the opportunity to be successful and get his doctorate and get to do good things at a place he loves. This is the type place EKU is and I want others to have the same opportunity I had".
One of the keys to his success, he said, was the sense of community he felt on campus. In his new role, he'll encourage that sense of community by keeping his eyes on all aspects of student life. For example, by moving athletics under the umbrella of campus life, Daugherty will be able to facilitate new partnerships and opportunities for students to get involved with others and take pride in the University. Likewise, by continuing with his role at the EKU Center for the Arts, Daugherty intends to find new ways to incorporate that facility and its programming into students' Eastern experiences.
That's a key component in retaining students through graduation. Although the world has changed greatly since Daugherty first stepped onto the practice field for Coach Roy Kidd in 1964, many challenges are the same. Getting students connected is one of them.
"The roles change and the responsibilities change. The bottom line is we're not just here to serve students, we're here to prepare students for life. To do that, they have to be engaged," Daugherty said. "Being in college can be lonely if you're not plugged in. That's what I stress. Get involved. If you see someone sitting alone in the cafeteria, go sit with them, talk to them. Have empathy."
That philosophy was built during Daugherty's years as an EKU student, followed immediately by his early career as EKU administrative staff. The only difference between those two roles, he said, was that he started wearing a tie -- his day-to-day continued to involve connecting with students one on one.
From 1971 to 1986, Daugherty was Director of Student Activities and Organizations. He was promoted to Dean of Student Development until 2000, then was named Executive Director for the EKU Alumni Association, followed by working on Special Projects for the President, and then Executive Assistant to the President. He tried retirement for three years and then returned in 2016 as executive director for the EKU Center for the Arts.
In those decades, perhaps more than anyone else, Daugherty has seen the university's transformation, including the demolition of O'Donnell Hall -- where he had lived as a student for three years, in room 108 -- to make way for the Whitlock Building and many other student-focused additions. He's witnessed the rise of the internet and smartphones, and with them, more challenges to creating meaningful one-on-one connections.
"We have a greater responsibility to provide a service and opportunities where students get full value for their tuition investment," he said. "I think being approachable, getting to know the students and encouraging them to get involved is all part of the process."