Building Bridges

USI selects an interim president and will launch a search for its new leader

The Board of Trustees at the University of Southern Indiana on May 31 named veteran administrator Steven Bridges interim president and said a search process will begin soon for outgoing President Ronald Rochon’s permanent successor.

Rochon, who became USI’s fourth president in 2018 after serving as provost the previous eight years, is leaving to lead California State University, Fullerton.

Bridges’ career at USI spans 35 years. A two-time alumnus of the university, he’s been vice president for finance and administration since 2015. His interim appointment begins July 20.

At a press conference held at USI, Board of Trustees Chair Christine Keck spoke of the vast “institutional knowledge” of the university that Bridges possesses. He knows the campus well — he received his bachelor’s degree in 1988 and went to work at USI a year later as a staff accountant.

From there, Bridges rose through the ranks. He held the roles of bursar, chief accountant, controller and assistant business office director, assistant and associate vice president, and an interim appointment for operations and assistant treasurer, before taking his current position nine years ago.

Bridges earned a Master of Business Administration degree from USI along the way.

The Henderson, Kentucky, resident, says he’s “honored and humbled” by his appointment as USI interim president.

“I was the type of student for which this campus was founded nearly 60 years ago, and I feel a great responsibility to continue the extraordinary education I received, for our students of today and tomorrow,” he says. “I have a genuine love of this institution, two of my children also are USI alumni. This is so much more than the place I am employed. My heart and life’s work are here.”

Bridges noted that his time at USI as a student and staff member has spanned each president: David Rice, H. Ray Hoops, Linda Bennett, and Rochon.

Asked Friday if he will apply to keep the president’s role permanently, Bridges replied that he looks forward to serving on an interim basis as long as is required.

Keck says the Board of Trustees’ next step is appointing a search committee to identify USI’s fifth president. The committee will be led by The Women’s Hospital CEO Christina Ryan, the current first vice chair of the board, and a search firm will be selected to assist the process.

Bridges, meanwhile, says he’s eager to get to work.

“I am confident that, working with the faculty and staff, this interim period will not be one of waiting but instead a period for advancing in all we do,” he says. “USI will be well positioned for the next president who takes the helm.”

Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen
Jodi Keen is the managing editor of Evansville Living and Evansville Business magazines.

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