This archived article was written by: Caitlin Wright
A man of many talents, Mike King shares his love of teaching and people as the chief executive officer, of administrator, of the College of Eastern Utah.
As King works in this position it is his responsibility to make sure that the students get what they need, the community gets the service it deserves, and that this college is following the guidelines that are set by the state.
King was appointed as an intern president when President Ryan Thomas left last spring and he has been the acting president since the middle of May. At this point in time, it is King’s role to work through the transition period that the school is experiencing. He will be here probably until the end of this year, but beyond that, he has no other plans.
King’s long-term goals personally would be to stay here at CEU until he retires. He is not able to teach this year, but he would like to be able to teach some more in the future. King is in the biology department and even though he has been in administration for the past eight years, he would love to teach again. He teaches General Ecology and Intro to Environmental Science. His first love is teaching and King states that, “I look forward to helping CEU progress, grow, become stronger and make sure that people recognize this for the great place that it is. ”
King’s short-term goals are to work through the study that the college is going through right now and to make sure that it is a good process for the college. He wants to make sure that the college comes out of that regardless of the outcome with a better idea of who we are and the things that we need to do to improve ourselves and better meet the needs of the communities here in Southeastern Utah. CEU serves from Carbon, Emery, and Grand County to San Juan County. It’s a huge area and he hopes to be able to meet all the needs of those areas.
King would like for this college to be promoted all around the state as a good place to come to college so that we are not only meeting the needs of the people in this part of the state, but also those students coming form outside of our region. “Those students are very important to us and likely, if we are going to experience any significant growth in the next few years, it is going to have to come from some place other than our four counties here.”
The most challenging thing about this position for King is that what he has to do now is look at the college as a whole, which he has never really had to do before. Now he has to think about all the areas that the college deals with and he must look at things in a much broader way than before. King works a lot more closely with the Board of Regents, the Commissioner’s office, and the Legislature. He has worked closely with the Board of Regents before and somewhat with the Commissioner’s office, but working with the Legislature is a new experience for King. “It is rewarding because you are talking with folks that really have the opportunity and the authority to make a difference in the state of Utah for a variety of things, but particularly higher education.” It is intimidating in a way but it is also rewarding for Kings. “It is just looking at the world through different colored glasses than what I’m used to.”
One of the most interesting people that King has met in his position is the new Commissioner of Higher Education, Bill Cedarburg, who has spent some time on CEU campus. He is a unique individual with a great sense of humor while at the same time very knowledgeable about higher education. He is very open-minded and objective and has an interest in CEU. King has also had the opportunity to meet with the governor several times within the last three months. That has been interesting to meet with him and also several other legislatures that he would not have been able to meet otherwise.
Some of the most interesting things that King has experienced would be this study that is going on with Utah State. It is a significant thing, working through that process and working with individuals in our four county area and getting to talk about that. King has been working with the Utah State campus for several years on partnership things so there is a good working relationship with them and working through the way the world ought to work and the way that CEU and Utah Stat ought to work together.”
The easiest part for King in his job is working with people. “They make my job easy for the most part because we have dedicated staff and faculty that are very interested I the success of the students and in meeting the needs of the students and community.”
King has always wanted to teach. His father was a CEU faculty member for thirty-four year, in biology as well, so King has followed in his footsteps in a lot of ways. As he attended CEU, King was very happy with his instructors, even thirty years ago. Partly why he wanted to teach, as he got further into his college career, was because when he reached bigger schools, he became really frustrated with the quality of teaching that he was observing in many of his classes. He was that they were great researchers with great minds, but many of them just weren’t willing to put in the one-on-one time or effort that really defines a good teacher. This is part of the reason that King wanted to pursue advanced degrees, to become a good teacher and help students understand.
Some of King’s interests and hobbies have always been centered around biology. His PhD from Utah State University was in Wildlife Ecology so anything involving the outside is enjoyable for him, “even just sitting on top of the hill doing nothing.” It’s always been an interest for him and he likes to do it as much as he can. Outdoor photography, fly-fishing and mountain biking are also some of his hobbies outside of school and biology.
King is happy to be here at CEU and always has been. He has a deep love for the college and it has been a tradition in his family for many years. He looks forward to maybe having some of his grandchildren come here someday. His parents and all of their children, including King’s own children have attended CEU, as well as some of his siblings. In all there are nineteen people from his immediate family that have attended the college.
There are great students here and King looks forward to serving them and helping to see that their needs are met, and getting their input to make any changes that need to be made. “It’s all about the students … trying to take care of the students.”