September Town Hall Summary

On September 28, 2023, Eastern Washington University hosted a town hall meeting featuring senior consultant Dr. John Welty, who engaged with the community. The event saw an impressive turnout of over 150 attendees, who were divided into groups of 6-8 individuals. Half of these groups were tasked with addressing questions 1 and 2, while the other half focused on questions 3 and 4. Additionally, the community was presented with a question concerning the institution’s values.

Here are the prominent responses for each question, with the number of groups that included each response indicated in parentheses. Only responses that were mentioned by two or more groups are included in the list.

Town Hall Questions

1 – “Looking to the years ahead and as if peering into a crystal ball, what do you see as the ideal future for Eastern Washington University?”

  • Retention and Graduation (9)
  • Survival / Stability (7)
  • Diverse staff, faculty, students (7)
  • Clear priorities / vision (6)
  • Prepare students for next steps (internships and employability) (5)
  • Response to student needs/welcoming needs/ being welcoming (4)
  • Increase enrollment/student re-enrollment (4)
  • Community engagement/partnerships (4)
  • Understand who we are – Clarity of purpose (3)
  • Visibility in region (3)
  • Affordable / Accessible (3)
  • Bold and audacious in marketing resources (3)
  • Support employee wellness (2)
  • Undergraduate focus (2)
  • Help first-generation students (2)
  • Support DACA students and under-marginalized students (2)
  • More scholarships (2)

2 – “You’ve been asked to talk to a small group of high school students who are considering where to go to college. What would you say to them about coming to EWU, about selecting a major offered by EWU, and about the things they will get here that are truly different from other universities?”

  • Personal education – connections with faculty (12)
  • Small class size / caring community (8)
  • Cutting Edge Academic Programs (Cybersecurity, STEM, etc.) (8)
  • Affordability, graduate with little to no debt (7)
  • More support for BIPOC students (6)
  • Experiential learning / applied learning focus (5)
  • Multiple majors/ability to explore (3)
  • Student centric (3)
  • Diversity of students (3)
  • Support first-generation students (2)
  • Advising / Retention/Mentoring (2)
  • Dedicated staff and faculty (2)
  • People more grounded / down to earth (2)

3 – “You have the opportunity to talk with a donor who is considering a very large and unrestricted gift to EWU. What would you pitch to the donor that builds on EWU’s areas of strength, and promise or addresses a need that would be extraordinarily exciting to work on and that would better serve the students?          

  • Advising and Retention (4)
  • 1st Generation (4)
  • Institution of access (3)
  • Student Success (3)
  • Recognize careers that are in demand (2)

4 – “What are the traditions, commitments, and places that tie us together and are uniformly held dear by EWU?”

  • Passing through the pillars (10)
  • Roos Field / Red Turf (6)
  • House calls (5)
  • Senior sendoff (4)
  • Neighbor fest (4)
  • Affordability (3)
  • Homecoming (3)
  • Location (3)
  • Turnbull (2)’

5 – “From the initial findings from this summer’s focus groups and the early work of the strategic planning committee, we have heard the following four values are essential to EWU:

  1. Justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, belonging
  2. Student Success
  3. Accessibility
  4. Regional Impact

What do these four values mean to you? “

  • Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, BelongingStudents should be exposed to new ideas/ cultures/values
    • Students should be exposed to new ideas/ cultures/values; increased diversity in staff; creating a community of respect; honor people; clear, physical staff structures to support; develop the “how” we do this; understand what makes people feel welcomed/supported; potential conflict of belonging for some students and exclusion of others; ask students what this means to them; maybe confusion between a and c; safe space to learn and work; these feel like a lot of very big values to lump together; they are all very different and not easy to disseminate into one value all students graduate on an equitable playing field going out “into the world”; do these values represent faculty, staff and students? Are these values that the institution holds for all even if we are not living up to them?
    • Not one value; five separate values; belonging is important but has been yet has been difficult to ensure it happens; non-traditional students may not feel belonging is paramount; belonging in the classroom is important
    • Make belonging a value; Create an equity lens statement at the beginning of the strategic plan; JEDI should be in the mission and vision statement
    • Social mobility; support systems throughout the process; recognition of past injustices; processes being equitable; utilize metrics to identify progress; clear process and response for bias incidents
  • Student Success
    • Hearing and engaging with students; including students in decision making with strategic planning;  integrated assignments in class; what are intangibles that students gain besides graduation; quality of education/process; soft skills; ability to navigate processes; work with peers; leadership experiences; perception of EWU identity from commuting stakeholders; students give back to their community; finding their way in a reasonable amount of time; academic excellence; should be the focus- everything else should support student success; graduating on time with minimal debt;; advocate and navigate through college(students should be able to do the same thing in the working environment); greater access(not attention) and opportunities to meet new people; build relationships, mentorship(not just talk to your professor);
  • Accessibility
    • Accommodate dual learning styles / diverse cultural backgrounds/faculty availability/distance learning / accommodating employed students. Availability to rural and nontraditional student populations who have challenges accessing traditional on-campus academic programs, Explore adapting more programs to a transition to teaching program, Too vague, Facility building with people who understand usage needs, Not just meeting legal requirements, include quality of life, Other needs covered, food, shelter, Audit technology for usage ability, Maintain quality of life, Opportunities available for everyone, What kind of accessibility is this? Need more clarity, What does this mean? It could be many things. Physical accessibility – accessibility of programs, resources, (Money/spaces, etc.), Not creating barriers / easy/seamless / affordability, ADA, Classroom tech, Navigating campus,  Affordability, Ease of navigating enrollment process, Application process and requirements,  Removing financial hurdles, Affordability, Multiple paths to graduation, We are the open door, Location, time 
  • Regional Impact
    •  Celebrate impact / remove bashful component / our students stay in the region / responsive to needs of students and industry. Responsive to needs of students and industry, Leading and driving regional industry, Matching degrees, educational paths to regional business needs, Enhance institutional strategies to create more opportunities in the region, Review majors to create / remove on a regular basis, Include review of course offerings in current trends + degree path, EWU presence in community – apparel, merch, etc., Internship opportunities, What region?, How does the university contribute to the region?, We need to be clear on the impact we want to create, Having students who will be successful in our region,  Jobs / art / leadership / experts / experimental research integration / community engagement office open, Students give back to community, Have well regarded and career ready students, Brand recognition and investment, Where do eagles go after graduation?, Making sure our graduates are meeting the regions needs