Retiring Student Advocate Celebrated for Improving Career Services

Eastern Washington University is celebrating the retirement of a longtime member of the Student Affairs team who has had a huge impact on student success over the years. Virginia “Gini” Hinch made it her mission to ensure students have the skills and tools they need to successfully transition into the career they’ve dreamed of. After more than 20 years of service to the university, Hinch is set to retire from Eastern Washington University this month.

“Funny, it doesn’t seem that long! It goes by so fast,” says Hinch. “I have had the privilege of having such variety in my career and so many opportunities for growth. It has made time fly.”

Hinch started at Eastern in 2000 as the coordinator of the Internship Program, and within just a few years became director of Career Services. Her colleagues credit her with developing a number of programs and relationships over the years that provide much needed direct support for students as they seek professional work.

“Gini is passionate about helping EWU students succeed, both here on campus and in their career fields,” says Rob Sauders, the vice president for Student Affairs. “She has been instrumental in developing the sort of creative programming that allows students to hone the skills and experience necessary to be successful in the job market.”

Hinch’s many accomplishments include developing college specific career planning course offerings, increasing the partnership between Career Services and faculty, and expanding employer recruiting programs and networking opportunities. She was also instrumental in the development of the Eagle Career Network and the growth and success of the annual FUSE Career Fair, which is a collaboration between EWU, Gonzaga, Whitworth and WSU-Spokane.

“Gini has been involved for 22 of the 27-year history of this event,” says Sauders. “Her leadership has helped it grow from serving a handful of employers and students to serving 125 employers and 411 EWU students in 2020.”

Hinch is also credited with the creation of the EWU Career Ambassador Program, which partnered with select departments on campus whose students historically do not access Career Services. The program successfully connected students in Africana Studies, Chicana/o/x Studies, the Veteran’s Resource Center, American Indian Studies and the PRIDE Center with career development assistance from highly trained peers. In 2016, Hinch was promoted to the position of assistant vice president for Student Services and executive director for Career Development. In this position, Hinch was instrumental in advocating for expanded services and support for students on the Spokane campus.

“Gini’s service to EWU and innovation within Career Services is going to be greatly missed,” says John Ashcroft, the associate vice president for Campus Life at Eastern. “She has always created great teams and been mindful of how she can improve the culture within Student Affairs.”

As she prepares for her final days at Eastern, Hinch says she is proud of the collaborations and connections she’s made across campus. She says she’ll miss those connections with students and her colleagues, who she calls family.

“I have loved working with students on career possibilities. It is very inspiring work,” she says. “I have also loved working with my team in the Career Center. They are so talented and creative. They have made work fun.”

With Hinch’s retirement at the end of February, the division of Student Affairs will reorganize as it continually reassesses how to best deliver services and meet the critical needs of students. You can read about the changes here: Student Affairs Announces Restructuring to Address Student Needs.

Sauders says that the organizational changes will ensure that the programming Hinch implemented at Eastern will continue to have a positive impact, and continue to grow and adapt as the needs of students change. Even so, it is clear that the team in Student Affairs will miss Hinch’s leadership.

“The knowledge, insights and energy that Gini brings to service the students of EWU will be missed,” Sauders says.

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