Trustee spotlight - Ken James '69

Boundless opportunities. That’s what Ken James remembers of his Doane experience. Growing up in the Sandhills of Nebraska, the Mullen native came to Doane in 1965 wanting a small college that opened doors to experiences that he could have never dreamed of at other schools. The math major not only received those kind of opportunities—such as traveling with his singing group to Far East military bases with the United Service Organizations in 1967—but he returned the favor to his alma mater, making a huge impact serving as chairman of Doane’s Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2015.


What have been the most gratifying things about being a Doane board member?


Serving with good, quality board members who all have the same interest: making a good institution better. Serving as chair of the business committee and chair of the board and hoping that I had a positive impact. Interfacing with and seeing the quality of faculty and students improve over time.


What were the accomplishments you were most proud of during your time as chairman of the Doane Board of Trustees?


The board and staff are a team that works together, so it is hard to say “I accomplished it,” but I would like to hope that many of the things we positioned or implemented together will have a positive impact on the future growth and success of Doane. These include hiring a president who is interested in growing and trying new endeavors, expanding recruiting horizons, enhancing curriculum, improving fine arts facilities and expanding the adult education focus.


What are the biggest challenges the board currently faces?


Money is always a challenge. We always want more than we have. We need to be fiscally smart with the resources we have. We need to keep a continuous influx of quality students and faculty. We need to make the educational opportunity meaningful and impactful in a rapidly changing environment. We need a society that will value the quality of a good, small liberal arts environment. The board must assure itself that we are doing the right things to make these key events happen.


What do you see in Doane’s future?


We are positioned well relative to our peers. At the same time, it is critical that we are successful with our current initiatives and continue to build on them. I believe this can happen.


With all the changes Doane has seen in the past few years, what excites you—or concerns you—most about the future of the school?

We all know that the pace of change in society is faster than ever before. Doane is no different. We need to be constantly changing and improving or we will go backwards. I am not sure that the alumni group collectively appreciates the required pace of change and the support necessary from all of us to make this happen. We all need to support change through time, talent and treasures. Our future can be bright. It is up to us collectively to make it so.

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