Vice President of Innovation and Online Betty Kirby announces retirement

Longtime CMU leader positively impacted numerous colleges and units

| Author: Ari Harris | Media Contact: Aaron Mills

After nearly retiring twice previously, Vice President of Innovation and Online Betty Kirby said this time she is really stepping down from her current role at Central Michigan University at the end of the year. Kirby previously stepped down from two leadership roles at the university, but answered the call to lead again when she was most needed by CMU’s students, faculty and staff.

“When I arrived at CMU, Dr. Kirby was doing amazing work as dean of the College of Education and Human Services and was just preparing to retire. I was grateful that she accepted my invitation to serve as the interim dean of the College of the Arts and Media, postponing that retirement,” said CMU President Bob Davies. “Then, when she was ready to retire from that role, I told her we needed her to lead Innovation and Online, and she agreed. Now she is retiring again and, although I have some ideas, maybe — just maybe — this will be the time it actually takes.”

Betty Kirby, Vice President for Innovation and OnlineKirby began her career at CMU in 2004 after more than a decade of teaching and administration in K-12 schools in Michigan. She began in a full-time fixed-term assistant professor role, primarily focused on teaching and oversight of CMU’s Specialist in Education degree program in Atlanta, GA. She later advanced into assistant and associate professor roles before becoming department chair and, ultimately, dean of the College of Education and Human Services.

After stepping down from that role in 2020, Kirby agreed to serve as interim dean of the College of Arts and Media during the pandemic, until a national search for a new leader concluded in 2022. And, once again, the university refused to allow her to retire, engaging her knowledge, skills and experience to lead the newly created CMU Innovation and Online.

“Betty’s leadership imprint is every everywhere on CMU’s campus.  She has led transformative change, culminating with the remarkable emergence of Innovation and Online,” said CMU Provost Nancy Mathews.  “As a visionary, Betty will leave the university after helping to shape its future and ensure continued growth through the new Academic Vision and Strategic Plan.”

Kaleb Patrick, associate vice president for Innovation and Online, said Kirby’s impact and legacy will endure at the university, and in communities throughout the region, well into the future.

“Dr. Kirby’s calm leadership and steady demeanor has positively influenced hundreds of faculty and staff across CMU, not to mention the thousands of students and countless professionals in the field of education and beyond.” Patrick said. 

Following Kirby’s retirement, Patrick will serve as interim vice president of Innovation and Online until a national search begins next year.

During her tenure at CMU, Kirby held numerous teaching and administrative positions. She also served educator communities through participation in organizations such as the Michigan Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest Alliance to Improve Teacher Preparation, the Michigan Association for Colleges for Teacher Education (past president) and the Michigan Council for Deans of Colleges of Education.

She has mentored and supported faculty, staff and students universitywide, and says she will continue to lend her expertise to support the advancement of several CMU initiatives.

“Dr. Kirby is the consummate service-centered leader, and CMU has been fortunate to have her expertise and leadership. If, and this is a big IF, this is finally her time to retire, we all wish her the best,” Davies said. “I am grateful for her leadership and, more importantly, her friendship. Thank you, Betty!”

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