International Programs director resigns from WKU

Katherine Wade

Rick Sutton, executive director of the Office of International Programs, resigned from his position on Oct. 26. for unknown reasons.

Until a new director can be chosen, Deborah Wilkins, chief of staff and general counsel, will serve as interim director of the office.

The Office of International Programs includes the International Student Services and Study Abroad departments.

Sutton was hired on June 1, 2010, Wilkins said.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said he could not comment about the reason Sutton is leaving WKU.

There is no timeline for when a new director will be chosen, Emslie said.

“For a position as important as this one, I want to think carefully moving toward conducting a search,” Emslie said.

Three committees will be working on assessing the department and redefining what the director’s role will be, he said.

Emslie said the office of international programs is a very important unit at the university and the person in charge will have a key role to play.

“It’s very important that we highlight the international role at WKU,” Emslie said. “It’s a two-way street — attracting international students and faculty to come here, and exposing our students and faculty to opportunities abroad.”

President Gary Ransdell said the “internationalization of our university experience is a priority.”

“We need strong leadership in that regard,” Ransdell said.

Once the position has been evaluated, the university will most likely begin a national search, he said.

“We will try to seek someone who can direct international programs and continue to move them forward in a progressive and aggressive manner,” Ransdell said.

In the meantime, Emslie said Wilkins is very capable of keeping the program running.

Wilkins said she has stepped into positions at short notice in the past, including in the department of Human Resources and the department of Environment, Health and Safety.

Wilkins said her role is to “keep the wheels turning.”

“I’m happy to do it,” she said. “As chief of staff I have a pretty broad knowledge base of how things operate on campus, so it is easy for me to be a placeholder until they can find someone.”