Dr. Keith Lamb, interim president of MSU Texas, was as surprised as everyone by Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek’s sudden departure earlier this month from leadership of the university.
But now Lamb is focused on looking ahead with the rest of the Midwestern State University team.
“I’m settling in well here into week two,” Lamb said in a Jan. 23 telephone interview. “We have a lot ahead of us right now.”
The high-level strategy is underway, MSU is pending reaccreditation this year, and this is the university’s first legislative session as a member of the Texas Tech University System. And the Midwest needs a permanent president.
“We are still working out the details of the upcoming presidential search,” said Scott Lacefield, a spokesman for the TTU system’s chancellor’s office.
“As soon as we have more information to share, we will provide it to community stakeholders on the MSU Texas campus and also to Wichita Falls and surrounding area media,” Lacefield said.
The question arises whether Lamb is interested in applying for the job. She served MSU for 23 years and has held various leadership roles.
“I don’t know yet. I think I need to stay a little longer to get an idea,” said Lamb, who holds a PhD.
Regardless of what happens, he said he is confident the TTU system will best suit MSU’s new leader and is excited to see what happens.
On January 11, the TTU system announced Mazachek’s departure from MSU to return to Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, where he worked 30 years before coming to the Midwest.
That same day, Washburn publicly welcomed her as future president to Topeka. Mazachek, who holds a PhD, will become the first woman to lead that university and its 15th president. Her services officially begin on Wednesday February 1st.
Even though Mazachek was less than a year away from Washburn, she told the Topeka Capital-Journal that she still appreciates the time and leadership experience at MSU.
“I wouldn’t have written the story that way, but it ended up being a great story,” he told the paper, “and it gave me an opportunity to appreciate Washburn more than I already did.”
Meanwhile, Lamb hasn’t encountered any worrying morale in the wake of his abrupt departure.
“Dr. Mazachek did a number of good things during her time here, and one of the, I think, really good things that she did was build a leadership team, which is about 30 people on campus,” said Lamb .
The group includes principals, a number of MSU directors, athlete representatives and others from critical areas of MSU, he said.
When Lamb was named interim president, he was serving as chief strategy officer at MSU. He is excited to work with the group to establish a strategy for the university.
The strategy to move MSU forward includes ensuring the university is a place where people want to work and where they are engaged and engaged, she said.
“Part of the strategy is enrollment,” Lamb said. “Now that we’re essentially post-COVID, the membership landscape has changed and how are we adjusting our strategy? How are we differentiating ourselves so that we engage the right membership market?”
An immediate concern is getting re-accreditation for the university, Lamb said. Accreditation, for example, affects MSU’s access to federal financial aid for students and the ability to transfer Midwestern coursework elsewhere.
“It’s fundamental to the life of an institution,” he said.
So the Midwest came under the microscope of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges for the process involved in getting 10-year accreditation from the regional body.
“MSU has always done very well with this and is in great shape for it. We’ve already had our offsite review,” Lamb said.
The site review is coming in March.
“We just have to make sure we’re ready,” Lamb said.
At an annual conference in December, SACSCOC will formally vote on accreditation, he said.
Lamb had a full slate before being named interim president on January 11. In addition to chief strategy officer, he had served as vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.
“The past week has been pretty intense with everything going on at the different locations,” he said.
“We are now starting to work on internal structures to reallocate some of the workload I was carrying out, so that I can fully focus as interim president and make sure the university is getting the leadership it needs from this position during this time.” Agnello said.
He said the MSU community deserves someone who is all about the position, and that’s the goal.
“It is an honor to be able to serve in this capacity an institution that means so much to all of us,” said Lamb.
Trish Choate, a corporate surveillance reporter for the Times Record News, covers education, the courts, breaking news and more. Contact Trish with news tips at [email protected]. Read about her recent work here. Her Twitter handle is @Trishapedia.