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Spears receives honorary degree from Campbellsville University

Dr. H. Keith Spears, center, 11th president of Campbellsville University and retired chancellor for University System Advancement at Campbellsville University, is awarded an honorary doctorate in communication from Dr. Joseph Hopkins, far left, president of Campbellsville University, and Dr. Donna Hedgepath, far right, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the university.       Photo/Leinner Corrales

By Gerard Flanagan, news writer and photographer, Office of University Communications

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. H. Keith Spears, 11th president of Campbellsville University and retired chancellor for University System Advancement at Campbellsville University, was awarded an honorary doctorate in communication.

The presentation was made during Campbellsville University’s chapel service on Sept. 20 in Ransdell Chapel.

Spears retired as the university’s chancellor on July 1, 2023, after more than 14 years of service to Campbellsville University.

“I am truly honored to receive Campbellsville University’s most prestigious recognition,” Spears said. “My appreciation goes to the Board of Trustees for the faith that they had in me.

“Thank you, President Joe Hopkins and the leadership of this great institution, for nominating me for this honor and bestowing it at a convocation. I can think of no more fitting occasion than one where I am with the heart of our university, friends, colleagues, and students.”

Dr. Donna Hedgepath, Campbellsville University’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. Joseph Hopkins, the university’s president, presented the honorary degree to Spears.

“Keith Spears has exceeded the boundaries of his formal training and academic distinction,” Hedgepath said. “His success at Campbellsville University has become “my” success as well as the entire CU family’s success.

“CU has a much wider and established footprint because of Keith Spears, and for that, we want to show our appreciation.”

Spears arrived at Campbellsville University in 2009, serving first as the university’s vice president for regional and graduate education. Spears also served in the roles of vice president for communication, senior vice president and assistant to the president before becoming the 11th president of the university in January 2021.

During his time at Campbellsville University, Spears was instrumental in developing the university’s off-campus graduate business programs, taking the university to record-breaking enrollment years. He also oversaw the expansion of the university’s Louisville Education Center and online programs.

Spears developed the Campbellsville University Research Company, through which the CU System of partner institutions is being advanced.

“The future of Campbellsville University is forever changed because of Keith Spears,” Dr. Joseph Hopkins, president of Campbellsville University, said. “His innovative genius has guided a transformation of graduate programs and international influence.”

Spears, with experience as a general manager of television and developer of four FM radio stations, has an extensive background in mass communication and broadcasting. He helped upgrade the radio and television facilities at the university’s Department of Mass Communication. He also bolstered support for the CU Sports Network.

For several years, Spears oversaw the Office of University Communications and the university’s radio and television stations, WLCU TV-FM.

Spears, a native of Fort Gay (Wayne County), West Virginia, served three decades at his alma mater, Marshall University, in various capacities, from professor to vice president. He co-directed a $100 Million campaign and established the award-winning “We Are…Marshall” brand, which led to a major Warner Bros. film project, “We Are Marshall,” on which he was the chief consultant.

Dr. Spears and his wife, Rita Kelly Spears, a retired Marshall University adult-student advisor, have two sons and daughters-in-law: Dr. Eric Spears, a university administrator and professor at Columbus State University in Georgia, and Marina Spears, a professor of English at Middle Georgia State University, and The Honorable Jason M. Spears, a family court judge in West Virginia and Ashley Spears, a flight nurse with Air Evac. They have three grandchildren, Clara and Lucas, in GA and Amelia, in WV.

Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that offers over 100 programs including doctoral, master, bachelor, associate and certificate programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.