Interim President's Message: Karen Holbrook looking forward to challenge of taking Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to next level

John P. Johnson retires from Embry-Riddle as president / Headline SurferPhotos for Headline Surfer / Karen Holbrook, shown above, the former president of The Ohio State University, is the new interim president of ERAU, replacing John P. Johnson, shown here, who retired after 12 years as president.
 
By HENRY FREDERICK
Headline Surfer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Karen A. Holbrook, Ph.D., became the interim president of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on Monday replacing John Johnson, who retired after 12 years at the helm of the private insititution which dspecializes in aerospace and engineering with campus here in Daytona Beach, Prescott, Ariz., and 

Holbrook is a higher education consultant, and until recently, was he senior advisor to the president at the University of South Florida, where she also served as the senior VP for research and Innovation, followed by senior vice president for global affairs andiInternational research. But her biggest claim to fame was her tenure as president of The Ohio State University from 2002-2007.

Holbrook earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a doctorate in biological structure at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she served as a postdoctoral fellow in dermatology, faculty member and research administrator.

She was selected by the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees chaired by Mori Hosseini, owner of ICI Homes in Daytona Beach and an alumnus.

Here is what Holbrook assumes as the interim president: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world's oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only fully accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world. Embry-Riddle has traditional, residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. Embry-Riddle's Worldwide Campus provides educational opportunities to working adults at locations in the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition, degree programs are offered through Worldwide Online via the Internet. Combined annual enrollment for all campuses is nearly 29,000 students from all 50 states and 106 nations. 

In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 181 faculty members were involved in research and other sponsored projects totaling 205 active awards and 91 new awards. Externally funded grants and contracts for the year totaled more than $16 million. The annual operating budget of Embry-Riddle is approximately $359 million.

Embry-Riddle / Headline SurferHere is what Karen Holbrook assumes as the interim president: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is the world's oldest, largest, and most prestigious university specializing in aviation and aerospace. It is the only fully accredited, aviation-oriented university in the world. 

Embry-Riddle has traditional, residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. Embry-Riddle's Worldwide Campus provides educational opportunities to working adults at locations in the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. In addition, degree programs at all levels are offered through Worldwide Online via the Internet. Combined annual enrollment for all campuses is nearly 29,000 students from all 50 states and 106 nations.

In the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 181 Embry-Riddle faculty members were involved in research and other sponsored projects totaling 205 active awards and 91 new awards. Externally funded grants and contracts for the year totaled more than $16 million. The annual operating budget of Embry-Riddle is approximately $359 million.

Earlier in her career, Dr. Holbrook was a biomedical researcher and NIH MERIT Award investigator. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a doctorate in biological structure at the University of Washington School of Medicine, where she served as a postdoctoral fellow in dermatology, faculty member and research administrator. 

Holbrook is married to Jim Holbrook, a physical oceanographer who spent his career with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  at Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle, Wash., and in Washington, D.C. The Nolbrook family includes a grown son.

Embry-Riddle posted a letter written to the ERAU community by Karen Holbrook about the challenges of leading the private aerospace university as the interim president. Here is what she wrote:

Dear University Community, I am very excited about assuming the interim presidency at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. I have been acquainted with Embry-Riddle since 1999 when President Ebbs asked me to join the President’s Advisory Board and then the Board of Trustees in 2002. Through these experiences, I gained a deep appreciation of the University. I left the Board in 2004, then at President Johnson’s invitation rejoined in 2007 after retiring from Ohio State University. 
In recent years, I have chaired the Academic Committee and seen the remarkable expansion of highly relevant degree programs – including numerous B.S./M.S. degree combinations and seven Ph.D.s. The addition of the Ph.D. programs moved Embry-Riddle to another echelon of institutions and attracts top-notch faculty and students. I have served on other committees (development, investment, executive and the research park board) as well, and mention these only because they have been helpful in providing a fuller understanding of the University. 
Over these 17 years, I have seen incredible changes in virtually every aspect of the University (all three campuses)—from the physical plants at Daytona Beach and Prescott to the academic programs and the ability to recruit high-quality and committed faculty to the increase in the research enterprise and industrial partnerships. Embry-Riddle students have always been motivated and self-directed and are invested in the success of their institution as well as their own career development. The changes, overall, have been dramatic and attest to excellent leadership and commitment at all levels of the institution.
Today, the University is strong and continuing to grow in all its dimensions: Enrollments are increasing, externally funded research is growing and research infrastructure is showing impressive advances with the addition of a research park and a new $10 million wind tunnel. Other major equipment for research is available for use by faculty, students and staff, giving students, in particular, hands-on experience that prepares them for their futures. Athletics engages academically stellar students and produces winning results in competitions. However, buildings, equipment and winning teams are not all that count. It is the experiences that faculty, students and staff share together in the classroom and the field that change lives. The success of Embry-Riddle is measured by the outcomes of the students who study here, and this also contributes to one of the many ways the University’s reputation is earned. While we rank first—and have held that position for many years—in the U.S. News & World Report ranking for undergraduate aerospace engineering and best in online bachelor’s degrees, there are many other ranking systems we need to be aware of and seek to become highly positioned. 
I know from the years of upward mobility that everyone connected with Embry-Riddle will continue to work in every way possible to move the institution forward—at the Daytona Beach, Prescott and Worldwide campuses. Each will have somewhat different goals, but all will be committed to providing the best possible experience for the students. I look forward to a very intense period of learning from all of you about what matters most, and where you see opportunities for Embry-Riddle to make progress so that during this year we can set the stage for an incoming permanent president. I hope to use my experience as a university professor, dean, vice president (both academic and research), internationalist and president to make this a very active and successful year. I am grateful for the honor of working with all of you, as well as members of our community, industry, state, nation and international colleagues on behalf of Embry-Riddle.
Sincerely Yours,
Dr. Karen A. Holbrook
Interim President
 
FAST FACTS: Interm President Karen Holbrook's credentials
In addition to serving as the president of The Ohio State Univrsity from 2002-2007, ERAU's new interim president has strong credentials. Among them:
• Previously the senior VP for academic affairs and provost at the University of Georgia;
• VP for research and dean of the graduate school at the University of Florida;
• Associate dean for research and professor of biological structure and medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine;
• Previously served on the boards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Council of Education, the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (now APLU), the Association of American Universities, the Council of Graduate Schools and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education among others;
• Has participated on advisory panels and councils for the National Institutes of Health and was a member of the Advisory Committee to the immediate past director of the NIH (Elias Zerhouni);
• Currently serves on the boards of the Institute of International Education, CRDF Global, Bio-Techne, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and is the past board chair for Oak Ridge Associated Universities;
•  Was a member of the Embry-Riddle Board of Trustees for 10 years.
 
DID YOU KNOW? 
James Holbrook, son of Karen and Jim Holbrook, is the senior art director and producer for ABC World News in New York City.
 
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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.