Interim President David May delivered the annual State of the University address Tuesday, Sept. 21, in perhaps one of the more historic moments in Eastern’s 139-year history.
It came 18 months after students, faculty and staff were last together on campus before the pandemic changed our lives.
“There is a vibrancy on the mall that we have not had since March 2020. Just take a moment and let that sink in – March of 2020,” said May. “There’s a buzz. There’s a buzz that those of us who have been around this place know and love. It’s intoxicating to feel the energy of so many people back in this special place.”
May started his speech with a very matter-of-fact statement to mark the occasion: “We are back on campus in Cheney, Washington,” proclaimed May, also noting, “I know one thing we’ve learned in the last year-and-a-half – we are not an online university.”
The hard-to-believe reality is there are nearly two full classes of Eastern students who have not experienced life on campus.
“Students have been awaiting this day perhaps more eagerly than any of us – and you can see it in the smiles on their faces.”
Many challenges and critical issues face the university, and May shared a few thoughts about the key priorities for the year. They include:
- Seeking more financial support from the Legislature to fund student support initiatives and fund- our now federally recognized cyber security program
- Confronting enrollment challenges so Eastern can meet student needs and workforce demands
- Creating a comprehensive academic plan that will chart a course for the university
- Recommitting to the strategic plan created in 2018
May acknowledges there is plenty to worry about – Covid-19, budgets, enrollment, vaccines, mandates and protocols – but points out there are many opportunities if we stick together.
“If we remain resolute. If we look for solutions rather than blame. If we are creative. If we are responsive, if we build together – then we are Eagle Strong. “
And with that, May challenged the campus to think of all the positives as we reflect on the state of our university.
“Welcome you all to the 2021-22 academic year.”
Watch the full address below.