CU Alumnus Finds Success in Public Office

By Hillary C. Wright, student news writer

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky.—Vernie McGaha, a Republican State Senator for Senate District 15, which covers Kentucky counties Adair, Casey, Russell and Pulaski, said he was drawn to Campbellsville University by the music program offered.

“I truly enjoyed my years at CU,” said McGaha. “The small town atmosphere and community involvement, small classes, personal relationships with teachers and a Christian atmosphere is all you can ask for in an educational setting.”

McGaha, originally from Adair County, is a 1965 graduate of Adair County High School. He studied music at CU and graduated in 1969 with a bachelor of science degree. He also received his master’s degree in 1971 from Western Kentucky University and his Rank I from WKU in 1973.

McGaha began his career in education as band director at Russell County High School from 1969 to 1986. He was principal of Union Chapel Elementary School from 1986 to 1987, and was principal of Russell County Middle School from 1988 to 1996. Upon retirement, McGaha decided to enter politics by running for the Kentucky State Senate.

“I was ready for a career change after retirement from the education profession,” said McGaha. “I was approached by friends who encouraged me to run for the open District 15 Senate Seat. After much prayer and meditation, I filed one hour before the filing deadline.

“I have always been interested in the political process and the many areas of government that seemed to ignore the moral and economic principles which have been the foundation for our great country. Most of all, I felt this is what God wanted me to do at this juncture in my life. It has been educational, rewarding and humbling.”

McGaha also serves as chairman of the Contract Review Subcommittee, vice chairman of the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee, vice chairman of the Education Committee, and is a member of the Appropriations and Revenue Committee, the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, the Program Review and Investigations Committee, and the Energy Subcommittee.

McGaha is also a member of New Hope Separate Baptist Church, where he serves as senior deacon, an adult Sunday school teacher, and pianist. He has also been a member of the Crossroads Quartet, a Southern gospel quartet that began in 1960 for 49 years. “We work primarily in Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana,” said McGaha. “We do about 50 concerts per year.”

McGaha ran unopposed in this year’s election, and will have a fourth term that will run through 2012. McGaha said his number one goal as a politician is “to stay true to my principles and beliefs. If I do so, I can be a responsive representative of my constituents,” he said.

While he dislikes the partisan political bickering of being in his position, McGaha enjoys helping citizens “who are stuck in the red tape of government.”

The Rev. John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president at Campbellsville University, said he has been acquainted with McGaha for more than 40 years.

“State Senator McGaha spent a career in public education prior to becoming a public servant,” said Chowning. “He was a marching band director at Russell County High School for a number of years. He also served as a principal and administrator in the Russell County schools.

“His public school career enabled him to make a very positive contribution to the lives of a number of young people who are serving throughout the state and beyond. He has deep roots in his Christian faith and church, community and family — those things which are at the foundation of what has made our nation great.

“He is continuing to make a great contribution where he is serving now, and his life of service is very much in line with the many Christian servant leaders among the more than 10,000 CU alumni around the world.”

Chowning said McGaha is among the most highly respected members of the Kentucky State Senate.

“He is a person of strong convictions and yet has the ability to work across partisan lines to put together legislation that benefits the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Chowning said.

“He is known as an elected official who is accessible to the people and who has maintained close ties to his constituents. His service on the Education Committee, as well as other key committee assignments, is key.”

McGaha is the son of Schuyler and Barbara McGaha of Columbia, Ky. He is married to Connie Sue Smith McGaha.

Campbellsville University is a private, comprehensive institution located in South Central Kentucky. Founded in 1906, Campbellsville University is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has an enrollment of 2,601 students who represent 93 Kentucky counties, 27 states and 31 foreign nations. Listed in U.S. News & World Report’s 2009 “America’s Best Colleges,” CU is ranked 22nd in “Best Baccalaureate Colleges” in the South for the second consecutive year. CU has been ranked 16 consecutive years with U.S. News & World Report. The university has also been named to America’s Best Christian Colleges®. Campbellsville University is located 82 miles southwest of Lexington, Ky., and 80 miles southeast of Louisville, Ky. Dr. Michael V. Carter is in his tenth year as president.

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