University of Kentucky provost to take top job at Adelphi University in New York

University of Kentucky Provost Christine M. Riordan.
University of Kentucky Provost Christine M. Riordan. Lexington Herald-Leader

University of Kentucky Provost Christine Riordan is leaving to become president of Adelphi University in New York.

Her new job was announced simultaneously Tuesday afternoon by Adelphi and UK President Eli Capilouto.

Capilouto said Riordan would leave the provost's position Dec. 31 to become executive adviser for special projects at UK. She will become president at Adelphi, an 8,000-student university on Long Island, on July 1.

As an executive adviser at UK, Riordan will continue to make her annual salary of $420,000.

Riordan arrived at UK 18 months ago. She was formerly the dean of business at the University of Denver and specialized in business leadership and public speaking.

"Although her tenure with us has been relatively brief, Chris' leadership over the past 18 months has been at the heart of a number of initiatives important to the success of the University of Kentucky," Capilouto said in a statement.

UK spokesman Jay Blanton said Capilouto would act with "thoughtful urgency" to replace Riordan after talking with deans about the best way to move forward.

Blanton said Capilouto hoped to replace Riordan quickly, but because she is involved in long-term projects, such as a new budgeting system that has not been fully unveiled, she will be placed in an adviser position for six months.

"I think there will be some longer-term projects that will be taken by the permanent chief academic officer, and we want to move forward, and in the meantime, Dr. Riordan will be assisting the president on some other projects," Blanton said.

Capilouto credited Riordan with helping to recruit UK's largest, most academically accomplished freshman class this year and with doubling the number of students participating in programs that allow them to live with others taking similar classes.

"Chris also has been instrumental in recruiting some outstanding new deans to lead our colleges, among many other initiatives," Capilouto said.

Vincent Cassone, chairman of UK's biology department, called Adelphi a great fit for Riordan.

"I think it's a great opportunity for her ... Dr. Riordan's business background will serve her very well," he said.

As provost, however, she wasn't at UK long enough to get traction.

"There weren't any big initiatives, but there wasn't time," he said. "We're still waiting to see what the new budget plan will be."

During a news conference at Adelphi, Riordan said it was a "breathtaking moment" to be named the school's 10th president and its first female president. President Robert Scott, who has been at the helm for 15 years, is retiring June 30.

Riordan said she was impressed by Adelphi's academic reputation, its growing enrollment and new buildings. But most of all, she said, she enjoyed meeting faculty, staff and students.

"I could feel the sense of community," she said.