Dear Eagle Family and Friends,

We have reached the end of another academic year at Eastern Washington University, our 139th year of serving students and our region. While pandemic-related challenges have made this year a year unlike any other, the university capped things off with an outstanding commencement ceremony this past Saturday. We graduated more than 3,300 students we are now proud to call EWU alumni and Eagles for Life!

The end of the academic terms doesn’t mean that everything stops, especially in the environment we now find ourselves navigating. Academic programs will be continuing through summer school — with some semester programs already well into their summer course offerings — and quarter-based offerings will be ramping up in the coming weeks. We will also continue our efforts to ensure that we have a safe return to in-person instruction, campus activities and events this fall by continuing to promote the #EagsVaxUp campaign. Our expectation is that everyone in our campus community who is able to be vaccinated will be before the start of the fall terms. 

And of course there are many critical issues we’ve been working on all year that we will bring to completion over the summer. One of the biggest projects involves the recent charge by the Board of Trustees (BOT) asking us to create a comprehensive and sustainable plan for EWU athletics. Over the last 15 months, the university and the Board have engaged in a lengthy and detailed discussion about the future of athletics at Eastern. I am very pleased that at the June 11th meeting, the Board accepted my recommendation that Eastern Athletics remain in the Big Sky Conference at the Division I level. My recommendation and the subsequent decision by the BOT are based on the belief that athletics at EWU are an integral part of the overall institutional mission and vision of our university.

The timeline is short, and it won’t be easy, but this summer I am committed to working with all of our relevant stakeholders to create a lasting model for the continued success and sustainability of Eastern Athletics. More fully integrating intercollegiate athletics into the core fabric of Eastern is going to require a strategic approach that will cross all of the divisions of the university. The ongoing health of these programs will necessitate that we determine the correct budgeting level for Athletics. Establishing a budget level that allows for fiscal responsibility — as well as accountability and competitive programs — will require examining every part of Athletics’ organization and structure.

Many voices have made it clear to me that Eastern’s athletics programs are a vital part of both campus life and the wider regional community in which we work and live. To maintain those connections will require us to work with Eastern Athletics’ supporters across those communities to develop a comprehensive revenue plan. Such a plan must encompass  not just internal resources, but also encourage community commitments in fundraising and philanthropy to support the program. 

Of course, we are reaching out to the community on several other Eastern-related initiatives as well. EWU is joining many local business leaders in the “5% Transfer of Wealth Campaign” to strengthen our region and the university. Did you know a recent study reveals an expected wealth transfer of $42 billion by 2029 in our region? With that in mind, I’m asking you to dream big for the future. Join the movement to fully commit to future generations by making a planned estate gift of 5% or more to EWU Foundation. Though many people give more, imagine the impact if everyone gave 5% through their will or trust! Whether you wish to fund an existing scholarship or create your own, our team is here to help you make dreams come true for future students while you still support your heirs. Please contact Senior Director of Gift Planning & Stewardship Laura Thayer at 509.359.6901 or Director of Gift Planning Courtney Susemiehl at 509.359.6703.

As I mentioned off the top, the university ‘s primary focus is working toward a safe return to normal for the 2021-22 academic year. That is why I have made the decision to implement a vaccine requirement at EWU, while allowing for medical or religious exemptions. To gain more insight into the importance of this topic, I hope you will take a few moments to watch this video of a recent interview I conducted with the public health officer at the Spokane Regional Health District.

Our quiet campus will soon be bustling again as we welcome employees back to the office on July 1 in an effort to prepare for the next academic year. While there will inevitably be some unknowns as we move forward, you can be certain of one thing:  I can’t wait to also see everyone back here on our beautiful campus once again.

David May, PhD
Interim President
Eastern Washington University

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Upcoming Events

Thursday, June 24
EWU Board of Trustees

Sunday, July 25
EWU Day at the Seattle Mariners
Join fellow Eags for a day at the ballpark

Friday, August 13
EWU Day at Silverwood
Take advantage of EWU’s group discount