President Cullinan welcomes your questions about the university. If you’re curious about issues related to strategic planning, the budget process, or operational changes, you’re most welcome to send in your questions.
We’ll regularly compile and review questions, and we’ll work to answer as many questions as possible. However, questions may be combined to avoid redundancy or to provide a more complete picture of a subject. We’ll do our best to address the intent of all submitted questions, but will not be providing individual responses.
As Eastern Washington University prepares for its “Max Flex” approach for the fall 2020 quarter, it is providing the campus community with a new online guide to help ensure a seamless transition.
Visit this site to have many of your fall quarter questions answered: https://www.ewu.edu/fallguide2020/
Check back regularly for new Q&A!
Answers to Your Questions | May 2020
Online classes are not less expensive than face-to-face ones. EWU’s online classes are taught by our excellent faculty, whose salaries and benefits do not change. We transformed hundreds of classes for spring 2020 in which the university invested considerably in the technology needed to support so many online courses and in the professional support staff needed to design them. We also provided resources for hundreds of students who didn’t have access to the tech necessary for taking their classes online.
Meanwhile, we continue to maintain our campuses in Spokane and Cheney as we await the time when we can all be safely back in our classrooms and labs: those costs don’t go away! We’re also investing in equipment and making classroom/lab adjustments to help ensure everyone’s health and safety when we are indeed back in face-to-face situations. And, of course, all the usual support offices continue—financial aid, admissions, payroll, advising, mental health support, and so on. University operations continue.
Click here to read a Forbes article from a couple years ago that sums up some of the reasons the online approach is not less expensive.
The decision to be online first with maximum flexibility is a decision that was made in consultation with experts in public health. We have put the health and safety of our student, faculty, staff and community at the center of the decisions that we are making. Bringing thousands of students back to campus, putting them into large classrooms all but guarantees that there will be an outbreak of COVID-19 on our campus. The leadership of EWU is not willing to put the health and safety of our entire community at risk in that way in the fall. There are many people on our campus who fall into what the CDC has designated as vulnerable populations and those individuals would have little opportunity to continue with the education or with the job if they were required to be on campus in those environments. Recognizing that the situation may improve over the summer, the experts in the field have been clear that there is a very high probability that the situation will worsen again in the fall. Knowing that, and having seen the disruption that took place over spring break this decision is the right one to make at this time with the information that we have available. The timing of the decision also allows for students to make their plans now for the fall rather than waiting until much later in the summer to find out that the situation has changed. Telling students that we will be face-to-face now and then having to make an abrupt change in the late summer or into the fall term would be disastrous for students who might have signed leases for instance. The timing also allows much more time for faculty to transition their current virtual courses into more complete and more robust learning environments.
The first summer quarter session will be all online. It might be possible to have some face-to-face courses in the second summer quarter session but that will be dictated by the course of the disease. For semester programs in the health sciences, there will be some very limited face-to-face teaching and learning later in the summer if the situation allows.
The State of Washington requires the institution to collect tuition and fees to fund the operations of the university. The tuition model required by the state is agnostic with regard to delivery method of classes. The campus continues to employ faculty and staff necessary to deliver classes and services such as advising, counseling, etc. and in fact online deliver is generally more costly than face-to-face. The facilities continue to be maintained so neither the institutions cost model or funding model are changed. Mandatory student fees are passed by the student body to fund the construction or services that the State of Washington does not fund. Because the students have elected to assess these fees to the student body for long term financial commitments these fees cannot be waived.
We do not have any indication that CiHS will be different in the fall than it was this spring. As a partnership with K-12, OSPI may alter the arrangement at some future point but we are planning for business as unusual at this point.
Running Start students are able to access all of the classes that they normally would if that class is available online right now.
First year registration will not be different in a significant way. The CAAR team is working remotely now but is available for advising appointments right now to help students plan a year long schedule that will meet the requirements of the new normal and provide a clear path through this moment.
EWU will be following the state's phased public reopening plan. Public gatherings, face-to-face activities and whether buildings will reopen will be based on these guidelines.
EWU will be following the state's phased reopening plan. Public gatherings, face-to-face activities and whether buildings will reopen will be based on these guidelines. The health and safety of our campus community is our number one priority.
As the Governor begins the phased rollback of restrictions, EWU will open campus in accordance with the Governor's directives. We recognize that study spaces on campus and reliable internet access are critical needs for students and our responses to the Governor's current phased approach provide opportunities for students to safely access areas on campus to satisfy these needs.
At the start of the spring term, EWU quickly recognized that there was a significant need among students to have computers in order to complete their online work. EWU, with the generous support of community donors, was able to purchase computers through the Student Emergency Fund in order to help meet this need. As the term progressed, we became aware of a secondary need for students to have reliable internet access. This problem was compounded by the need for EWU to close campus buildings and for local businesses to close their doors to the public, which significantly limited some students' ability to access the internet. We have and will continue to support student needs like these through the Student Emergency Fund and anticipate the ability of EWU and local businesses to maintain some degree of availability that would allow students to access the internet as they had prior to the start of COVID-19.
Club sports and athletics will be following similar guidelines. EWU is adhering to the state's phased plan for face-to-face and large gatherings and when club sports can resume will be determined by these guidelines.
As the Governor begins the phased rollback of restrictions, EWU will open campus and resume activities in accordance with the Governor's directives. We recognize that the social aspects of campus life are important to students and we are equally eager to return to more normal activities in a manner that best ensures the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.
In the very unlikely event that courses are moved from online to face-to-face, the online mode for the course would have to be maintained.
The schedule is being built right now. I would encourage you to check with your advisors, either in CAAR or in the department, regularly. Those people will have the most up to date information on the delivery modes as those are finalized.
In order to provide students and families with more options, EWU made the decision to suspend the first-year live-on requirement for the 2020-2021 academic year. First-year students have the choice to live at home or to live on campus in one of our residence halls in a single-room.
EWU Housing is developing a flexible quarter-by-quarter housing option so that students and families can make choices that are right for them and right for their budget. EWU provides favorable and flexible terms that few, if any, local or regional apartment complexes can or will match.
Our flexible housing options will be available for the fall, winter and spring terms in order to provide students and families with the greatest number of options. Students may decide to join our resident community at any time for a prorated cost and we are committed to a reasonable move-out fee should students and families feel it is best to return home during a term.
There is not a clear answer to this yet. We have recently approved some very limited placements for students who are required to have internship or practicum placements to be licensed in the state for allied health care professions. As we move into the summer, we will continue to consult with our own experts on coming up with criteria and plans that will allow as much flexibility as possible while remaining focused on public and and the safety of our communities as the first principle.
Please consult with your department chair as they will have the most up to date information as things continue to evolve. It is clear that some of the requirements for admissions are going to be looked at and it is possible that some admission requirements will be modified. Discussions on what that looks like are ongoing. It is often the case that some requirements are in place because of pressure from outside accreditors and we need to be thoughtful to avoid doing harm to a student's ability to be successful down the road.
If there is one course that is going to have a face-to-face component and that reality isn't going to work right now, please have that conversation with your advisors either in CAAR or in the department. It may be the case that there would be an online version of the course in a different section or that some changes to your schedule could help.
Every course is going to be scheduled as a synchronous meeting pattern. For some courses, there may be an asynchronous component as well. It is best to contact the faculty member teaching the course to determine what the requirements will be.
We are working with faculty across the university to continue to develop policies for classes that are responsive to student needs in this situation. Attendance policies are in that mix.
We are working to create additional resources to help students with the transition to online learning. We have heard about the challenges and are responding as quickly as possible. There will also be help and resources coming out of Student Affairs in this area.
The transition to the virtual learning environment was a shock to both faculty and students and the challenging timeline of making the transition made it much harder. Faculty overall have heard and are responding to the challenges that students are facing in this environment. Instructional Technology and Design is holding weekly workshops with faculty to help them transition from a quickly built virtual version of what they had planned to do after spring break to a more complete online learning experience.
The State of Washington requires the institution to collect tuition and fees to fund the operations of the university. The tuition model required by the state is agnostic with regard to delivery method of classes. The campus continues to employ faculty and staff necessary to deliver classes and services such as advising, counseling, etc. and in fact online delivery is generally more costly than face-to-face. The facilities continue to be maintained so neither the institutions cost model or funding model are changed. Mandatory student fees are passed by the student body to fund the construction or services that the State of Washington does not fund. Because the students have elected to assess these fees to the student body for long term financial commitments these fees cannot be waived.
There will not be a change to the tuition assessment model at this time. The State of Washington anticipates that non-resident students pay the full cost of educational delivery. The non-resident rate reflects that philosophy. EWU Financial Aid provides a generous WUE waiver to students from WUE states and we encourage non-residents to pursue this waiver option.
We are hopeful that we will have many more courses face-to-face in the winter and spring quarters. Of course it will be the course of the disease that will determine our ability to make that transition. Public health and the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff will be at the center of that decision when we make it.
We are working with state guidance to develop our safety plans for return to campus. These plans include masks, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, social distancing requirements and methods to ensure that employees and eventually students who return to campus minimize community spread of the disease. The state is recommending that everyone should wear a mask in public and we strongly encourage anyone who is on campus and in contact with other staff wear masks. Thank you for the great suggestion on training on proper mask use. We will have Environmental Health and Safety put together a quick tutorial.
EWU is following the state's phased plan for reopening the campus. We are working with OFM to develop a safety plan for the return of employees to campus. We will return all staff to campus as soon as possible to ensure an active and engaged campus community but we must do this carefully and staff who have documented conditions that require continued isolation will be supported in a telework model if possible.
We are working with STA to review their safety protocols. Although we cannot direct a local agency to develop their safety plans we can advise them of our concerns. As consumers, we encourage the campus community to voice concerns directly to STA if they become aware of perceived safety issues.
This benefit to employees will not be impacted at this time.
Answers to Your Questions | April 2020
We will not hold graduation ceremonies face-to-face in June. This is one of the most difficult decisions the leadership team has made in these trying times. We know how important it is to celebrate the accomplishments of our students. The graduation team has already shifted gears, working on a virtual alternative. As those plans become clearer, we’ll share them with the campus. We will also invite all graduates to walk at future Commencement ceremonies.
Classes will be entirely online for the first summer session (which starts June 22). We’re hopeful that it might be possible to allow limited options for face-to-face offerings during the second summer session (which starts July 20). If the public health situation allows for safely offering some classes, these would remain limited to labs and practicum courses that cannot be taught online for reasons of licensure or program accreditation.
Allowing even a limited number of specific courses will be decided only if we can continue to keep our students, faculty, staff, and communities safe. We will follow guidelines from public health officials or the Governor. More information about summer will be forthcoming.
Many, many questions coming in from Town Halls have focused on fall 2020. Will we be all online? What can we tell undergraduate and graduate students? What about programs that require face-to-face interaction such as Dental Hygiene? We are very hopeful that classes will return to normal in fall. It will be so inspiring to start the new academic year in the traditional way. However, we need to receive further direction from Governor Inslee, and we need to see the pattern of the pandemic. As of this writing, we don’t have sufficient information to make a decision.
Please know that the Student Care Team is available to assist students who are having difficulties or need assistance. To centralize the high volume of requests the Student Care Team is receiving, Student Affairs has created two online intake forms.
If you are a student and wish to connect with the Student Care Team, please click here: Student Intake Form. If you are a concerned faculty, staff, or community member and wish to alert us about a student needing assistance, please click here: ICARE.
The Catalyst construction has been moving forward on schedule. We’re still planning to move into the building in time for Fall 2020 classes. We’re also developing contingency plans in case there are delays to the schedule.
ISC construction has been halted while we’ve been directed to shelter in place. We’re negotiating with the contractor to resume construction. Although the project has slowed, we’re confident that it will be completed close to its original estimate; however, we don’t know right now when the building will be completed and ready for occupancy.
The EWU Eagle Store, library, URC, and all athletic facilities will remain closed through the remainder of the academic year. Please visit their respective websites for information on the limited services they are continuing to provide.
The PUB remains open for “grab and go” food service at Union Market and is accessible via the second floor entrance only. The laptop kiosk and printer station have been moved from the third floor to the second floor. The first and third floors are restricted to staff only.
Every member of university leadership is committed to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion on our campus and in our community. However, the search process for an AVP has been halted while we are sheltering in place.
As we are late in initiating a search process this academic year, and as our campus situation remains uncertain, we’ve decided to find an expert in our own community to help us chart a course toward more diversity, equity, and inclusion and a more welcoming learning environment. The provost and his team are focused on that planning and will have more information shortly.
Meanwhile, the Multicultural Center and the Pride Center continue to function remotely—and will function as normal when face-to-face interactions are possible again.
Answers to Your Questions | February 2020
As a regional public university, EWU reaches out to all the diverse populations of our region. We strive to be a welcoming, friendly place for all students.
One of our strategic planning initiatives is to work toward the federal designation of a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). For an institution to qualify as an HSI, it must have at least a 25% Latinx/Hispanic student population. Our stretch goal is to be designated an HSI by 2023. Receiving this designation could provide EWU with access to resources that will benefit the entire student body. However, much more importantly, the extensive planning work on this initiative is helping us identify opportunities and challenges not only for the fastest growing population in our state but also for all prospective and current students.
Eastern has developed many anchors for student success. One of these is the 6-point plan for retention from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, which is designed to assist with overall retention while maintaining a focus on diversity initiatives across campus. Additionally, we are conducting a review of program complexity, working on enhanced academic planning, looking closely at coaching and caseloads in the Center for Academic Advising & Retention (CAAR), and auditing policies and procedures that affect students.
I am also forming a President’s Faculty Committee on Student Success that will assess and make recommendations concerning areas that are encouraging students to choose EWU and stay enrolled as well as any hurdles that discourage students or delay their paths to graduation. The committee will focus on curriculum, teaching modalities, departmental or university policies and practices, campus climate, community engagement, undergraduate research, and national trends.
In fall 2019, I created a President’s Student Advisory Council that meets each term. The council is composed of about 20 students, ranging across class years and majors. At the inaugural meeting last November, we had a good conversation about some of the frustrations students were experiencing with enrollment, CAPS, and the math placement test. Students also shared what was working well for them at Eastern, including many dedicated faculty and significant resources across campus. I have shared the students’ worries and priorities with my executive team. I was happy to hear directly from students in a relaxed, open environment.
Additionally, my executive team and I meet with ASEWU leadership each term to discuss their goals, the work they’re doing, and other topics important to them. The vice presidents and I also meet regularly with our mentees on the ASEWU leadership team to continue the conversation, provide mentoring, and further discuss initiatives and progress. I also meet regularly with students in the residence halls and with members of campus organizations.
Furthermore, I plan to host a Town Hall specifically for students in the coming weeks, so students can engage with leadership, ask questions, and provide ideas and comments. This will be in addition to a Town Hall I’m planning for faculty and staff.