Dear Eagle Family and Friends,
The colorful Pacific Northwest fall that I had heard so much about didn’t stick around for too long. It seems the chilly, winter weather has arrived. With the abrupt shift from autumn to winter, I found myself thinking about transformation. Much like the change from one season to the next, Eastern is gearing up for transformation in the coming year. We’re a campus looking toward the future with optimism and building on our strong foundation of excellence.
Part of the transformation is EWU’s renewed focus on ensuring our students are “workforce ready” and responsive to the evolving needs of our communities. With more than 41,000 alumni in the Spokane region, and 120,000 across the world, it is important that our graduates are prepared to enter a workforce that looks much different than it did just a few years ago — they must continue to be flexible and innovative, ready to take on the new challenges facing our industries in the post-Covid workforce landscape.
As one of the few public universities serving the region, Eastern has an important role in the workforce of Spokane. We were honored to both sponsor and take part in the Journal of Business’ 2022 Workforce Summit this week. Together with regional leaders, we examined long-term solutions to the current workforce challenges. Big questions centered around addressing student well-being and its impact on workforce development, new approaches in the work environment to align with the next generation’s career goals, emerging labor force needs in the healthcare industry, and my favorite: In terms of workforce development, what keeps you up at night?
It was clear that addressing the short and long-term challenges facing our regional workforce and business community will take creative approaches and strong partnerships across industries. I am confident though that our Eagle graduates will be ready to meet the need.
One of the best things about leading EWU is recognizing our incredible employees who are helping to usher in new ideas and build a stronger campus community. During November, we’ve all taken the opportunity to display gratitude toward those who have made a difference. This past week, we were able to bring back a much-loved tradition among employees, the annual Fall Recognition Luncheon. Together, faculty and staff took a break in our day to sit down, share a great meal (including a sweet treat from STCU), and express our gratitude through recognition of our service pin recipients and the Distinguished Service award winners.
This year, we had three employees who were recognized for 50 years of service – what a testament to the positive culture and commitment of EWU employees! And the winners of our Distinguished Service Awards, Kathy Kees (left) and Amy Shadd (right), were recognized for their commitment to excellence and improving the Eagle experience for students and employees.
In keeping with the theme of gratitude, we joined individuals across the country on Veterans Day in thanking our Veterans for their service and sacrifice in defense of our nation. At the final home EWU football game on Nov. 19, we will celebrate Military Appreciation Day. Special recognition will be made to the nearly 400 student Veterans at Eastern, along with the numerous staff and faculty who’ve served in the armed forces. During their service, they exuded the Eagle traits of grit and greatness, and we will forever be grateful.
As we head into the busy holiday season, it is my hope that we all can keep the momentum going and continue to transform the community around us. Take care and Go Eags!
Shari McMahan, PhD
Eastern Washington University