So this is goodbye – sort of. As you know, I have made the decision to retire and will be leaving Eastern Washington University this summer. The one thing I’ve learned in my eight years here is that you are an Eagle for life! And my time on this wonderful campus is an experience I will cherish.
One of my major efforts during my tenure as president has been to improve the pride that our faculty, staff and students feel about EWU. When I arrived, all I heard was, “Why aren’t we more like WSU or Gonzaga?” There was a feeling that we were not as good as other institutions and nobody liked us. I also heard this in the community and even from our own alumni; it seemed few alumni were willing to admit they had graduated from Eastern, and they were less willing to demonstrate it.
I believe that has changed dramatically! We now have more students, faculty and staff who are willing to push their chest out and say “I work for, attend or graduated from Eastern!” We have grown significantly, not only in numbers but in the quality of programs that we offer. We have solidified our role in science, health and engineering, while still having strong programs in the fine arts and social science and in our professional programs like social work, business, public administration, psychology, health science and education.
We have become smaller in terms of administration and have developed a much stronger budget process that will serve the university well for years to come. I also believe the relationship between the administration and faculty is at an all-time high, and that we are positioned well to continue to improve faculty compensation and academic recognition for meeting the needs of our student population.
We have made significant inroads into increasing our foreign student population which, if managed well, will prove to be a great asset to the university and its students. Eastern students now have a greater opportunity to become global citizens and to be international contributors and world travelers.
As president, I have pushed the infusion of technology into our curriculum and tried to refocus our use of, and understanding of, how online education can further expand Eastern’s visibility and reach.
While some on campus feared our investment in athletics, I would say our success in this area has brought the most visibility to the university as a whole. It is through our success in athletics that we have been able to better promote and market our academic programs. It has also drawn many alumni back to Eastern, and has allowed us to meet many new friends who are now investing in the university.
And that is what the past eight years have been for me, an investment in this amazing university. I would call it one of the best investments I’ve made, and the payoff is that no matter where the road takes me from here, I get to proudly say that I am an Eagle for life!