Indiana State University announces Godard as 13th president

Apr. 26—Indiana State University trustees on Friday appointed Michael "Mike" Godard as the university's 13th president, effective June 1.

Godard, who has been provost at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri since 2019, brings more than 25 years of experience in higher education to his new role.

He has served as a faculty member, department chair, vice provost, and, most recently, provost.

"I'm thrilled about the opportunities that lie ahead for us all," he said during a brief trustees meeting. "Together, we'll write the next chapter in Indiana State University's history and achieve extraordinary things."

Godard's employment agreement includes a five-year contract through June 30, 2029 and a base salary of $360,000.

In his remarks, Godard said, "We will work together to innovate and adapt ...ensuring our academic programs and campus life are not only responsive to our students' needs but also proactive in helping them achieve their full potential."

He spoke of continuing to build on efforts "to ensure inclusivity and accessibility for every member of our campus community. Every student, faculty and staff from every background should feel valued and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives and talents," Godard said.

He also emphasized the importance of deepening ties with Terre Haute and surrounding communities.

Strengthening community involvement "will not only enrich our university but also contribute significantly to our mutual growth and economic development," he said. "We will cultivate partnerships and initiatives that allow us to give back and engage meaningfully with our neighbors."

In a media interview, he said he wanted to become ISU's next president because "I see there is an alignment in terms of where my passions are."

Godard was a first-generation college student and has spent his higher education career at public, regional comprehensive institutions.

"I believe there are opportunities here to continue to grow the institution and grow in terms of enrollment, but also grow in terms of what we provide our students so they can be successful in life and work once they graduate," he said.

One of the bigger challenges will be responding to declining enrollment, which is not unique to ISU, he said.

"The landscape of higher education continues to change and we understand where those demographics are, but there are also opportunities to offset some of those demographic changes," Godard said.

He believes there is potential for "significant increases" in student retention and completion rates at ISU, which will help boost enrollment.

"The worst thing we can do for any student is to have them have some college credit, no degree and debt," Godard said. "That is a paralyzing lifelong scenario for any individual."

Retaining students and ensuring they graduate benefits them, the health of the institution and the community in terms of providing the workforce needs "we know we have in the Terre Haute community and beyond," Godard said.

He also addressed the importance of athletics at the university.

"When we think about athletics, it is one of the front porches of the institution," he said. "We want to make sure that we utilize that as an opportunity for all students to be engaged in campus life, to be engaged in what is going on."

He referenced "all the great things that are going on with athletics right now."

Athletics "gives us an opportunity to brand the institution and have that institutional awareness not only regionally, which is incredibly important, but also nationally and beyond, to be able to attract students," he said.

He wants students to attend those games but also to experience other activities on campus including visual and performing arts, student organizations, civic engagement and engagement with the larger community.

In college, he was a student-athlete himself and ran track at one institution and played basketball at another.

His bachelor's degree is in exercise science, his masters is in exercise physiology and his doctorate — from Ball State University — is in human bioenergetics.

Asked what he wants people to know about him, he said he is committed to building trusting relationships with people.

"I like to get to know people. I like to get to know what their passions and interests are," he said. "When we have those types of authentic relationships, we can achieve great things together."

He also describes himself as a collaborator.

ISU's 13th president said he will live in Condit House for just a short time but then will move off campus because of construction going on next door at the Bailey College of Engineering and Technology.

He said he and his wife, Kathryn, "are thankful we have already found a home and we are looking forward to joining the community here very shortly." The couple has two adult sons, Lance and Grant.

Godard's employment contract includes a housing allowance of $3,500 per month and a university-provided automobile or an automobile allowance of $1,200 per month.

He may also quality for "performance incentives" at the discretion of trustees that would address "truly extraordinary performance" in such areas as increasing enrollment, fundraising and advancement of athletic programs and program performance "in ways that strengthen the university's reputation and the engagement of students, alumni and the community."

ISU board of trustees chairman Robert Casey said trustees have "tremendous confidence" in Godard.

"Trustees felt strongly that he is the right choice at this time in history for Indiana State University," Casey said.

Godard has had progressively more responsible leadership positions in his career at Midwestern universities that have very similar profiles to ISU, Casey said. "We think all that adds up to just a tremendous opportunity for him to bring his expertise here and take us into the next era."

Godard will succeed Deborah J. Curtis, who has served in the role since 2018.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on X at @TribStarSue.