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Hughes to Retire as Gateway President

Dr. Ed Hughes is stepping down as president & CEO of Gateway Community & Technical College.

In an email Monday, Hughes said that his retirement will be effective Wednesday, September 16. "My retirement has been planned for some time but recent events have helped me decide to accelerate the timing of it," Hughes said in the email.

"Recent events" is likely a reference to Hughes's frequent difficulties with the college's board of directors, particularly chairman Jeff Groob. Most recently, the board took the entire summer to figure out an appropriate and legal way to review Hughes's job performance, with one meeting increasing tension between the president and the chair. Previous points of contention between Hughes and the chair and occasionally other board members were the development of an urban metro campus in downtown Covington and the low number of graduates at the advanced manufacturing center on the school's Boone County campus.

"I believe more than ever, that for many citizens in our region, Gateway remains the only hope they have to rise from lives of insufficiency and despair to lives of contribution and joy," Hughes said in Monday's email. "While I will not be part of the college, be assured that I will remain an ardent advocate for Gateway and the collective impact it is making in the region."

Hughes, 65, said he is "at peace" with his decision to retire and that he is excited about "the next phase in life's journey". He and his wife, Sarah, will remain in Northern Kentucky he said. 

Dr. Hughes became the founding president & CEO of Gateway when the school was established in 2001. Prior to his arrival at Gateway, he was one of the country's youngest college president when in 1985 at age 34 he took over the top job at Hazard Community College where he stayed for sixteen years.

Hughes holds a Ph.D. in higher education from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, a master's degree in psychology from Middle Tennessee State University, and a bachelor's degree in psychology from Catawba College.

Only The River City News has followed the friction at Gateway for the past two years. In an email to the campus community, Hughes said that that those involved at the school know that there is no turmoil as often depicted at board meetings.

In the fall of 2013, that friction was displayed at a board meeting, and since then there have been other bumps in the road in the rocky relationship between Hughes and Groob. When Hughes's contract was extended last year, Groob issued a statement in which he expressed concern about a drop in enrollment. Last October, tensions boiled over in a board meeting that attracted a higher-than-usual attendance from concerned members of the community.

After those bumps, though, the board and Hughes indicated in January that they were working well together. But then came the time to review Hughes's job performance. In June, the board members opted to send their reviews of the president directly to Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS) President Dr. Jay Box but those were returned unopened with instructions to evaluate the president together, something board members said would be awkward to do in a public forum.

The review was looked at by KCTCS leadership in Versailles earlier this month and obtained by The River City News in an open records request.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Photo: Ed Hughes