I have the great honor and pleasure of joining Embry-Riddle on a day-to-day basis—at least for a short period of time until a permanent president is recruited.
Embry-Riddle first came on my radar screen in 1999 when I was at the University of Georgia. I was asked if I might be interested in becoming a member of the President’s Advisory Board (PAB) at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Knowing very little about the university or the aviation/aerospace industry, I saw it as an opportunity to learn about another very special, niche university and a chance to contribute my expertise (although an “outsider” in terms of the discipline), from the perspective of my knowledge of higher education. The PAB meetings introduced me to the passion that everyone associated with Embry-Riddle feels for aviation, and especially for this university. And, even as a biomedical scientist, I was never made to feel I was an outsider but was welcomed for what I could contribute.
I was then invited to serve on the board of trustees and have greatly enjoyed the experience as I became more knowledgeable about the programs and activities of the university. I have watched Embry-Riddle grow in virtually every way—enrollment, capital facilities, academic programs, research and partnerships, and most importantly, the success of the students and the exceptional rankings of the academic programs that just keep getting better. Recently, for example, College Choice Best Engineering Programs ranked Embry-Riddle No. 11. While you may say, “Why not No. 1?” the answer is because those ahead of us include Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, Caltech and Georgia Tech—all of which have had scores of years before us to build their programs (undergraduate and graduate) and their reputations.
We are indeed in good company and we will continue to get even better as we follow our vision to be the world’s source for innovation and excellence in aerospace education and applied research—and as we live up to our core values to strive for excellence, act with integrity, express passion, live the safety culture, exhibit professionalism and forever explore. Our goals are to ensure our future and long-term sustainability by promoting student success, diversifying our funding sources, expanding the research enterprise, developing a comprehensive international strategy and building a sense of “university.” These are goals that whoever is sitting in this chair can continue and develop even further.
Lift magazine has always portrayed the energy and excitement of Embry-Riddle, but it takes first-hand experience on campus to realize everyone’s passion for this institution and the reason why we are all here, and to understand why our students, faculty and staff are so special. The other evening we were touring a guest around campus (understand that classes are not currently in session); it was 6:30 p.m. and one of the “maker labs” was filled with students working together on several different robots, some of which were to be entered into national competition. This was not an assignment but a voluntary club.
Passion. Opportunity. Innovation. Success. These energize all of us. I treasure every day at Embry-Riddle and I know that many of you have felt the same way during your experience here. Being here every day, I’m now excited by the sound of low-flying airliners and Embry-Riddle’s own training aircraft as they take off from Daytona International over the university. It only gets better and will continue to do so. Please keep connected with your extraordinary university!
Karen A. Holbrook, Ph.D.