EWU Trustees seek student opinion in the search for new president

EWU Trustees seek student opinion in the search for new president

By Aaron Bocook, News Writer

On the third floor of the PUB, just outside the Associated Students of EWU offices, a wooden box sits, painted bright white. On the box, there is a handwritten sign which reads “Place responses here.”

“We have asked the students of EWU to list the qualities they are looking for in a new [university] president,” said D.J. Jigre, ASEWU president.

Just before spring break, Jigre, along with ASEWU director of elections Samuel Adams, was asked to represent the students of EWU on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, which has been on the hunt for a new university president since Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo announced his retirement earlier this year.

“What D.J. and I and the other committee members have to do is review applicants and make a decision based on the criterion that has been laid out for us,” Adams said. “We have had an open forum, where university constituents, students, faculty, staff and community members were allowed to participate in and give any input they wanted in regards to what they would like to see in another president.”

On April 14, board of trustees chairman Paul Tanaka said that there are about 38 applicants so far and that he expected over 40 by the time the application deadline, April 18.

“[Arévalo] is going out on his own terms. The board was very sad and unhappy when he announced his retirement,” Tanaka said. “Our focus is now on hiring a new president. This is the most important thing that the board of trustees does, is hire a president. I think it’s going well.”

Tanaka and two other members of the board of trustees, plus Jigre and Adams, are among the 15 members of the committee to hire a new president, and they hope to have the number of applicants thinned to just five to seven semi-finalists the next time the committee meets on April 25.

“We are sort of putting them into three piles,” Tanaka said, “‘No, maybe, yes,’ like everybody does.”

The committee will interview the semifinalists on May 8 or 9, Tanaka said, and then narrow it down to the finalists. The last week of June, the finalists will each separately visit the  campus to meet students, faculty, administrators and community members.

After each finalist has been run through the gauntlet, the board of trustees will gather all of the information from the committee and make a decision in early June. In July, Arévalo will retire and the new president will take his place.

According to Tanaka, student opinion is being held high in the selection process.

“This affects the students as much as anybody,” Tanaka said. “The board of trustees is interested in the student perspective.”

“Student opinions are vital, and the board of trustees will take them seriously,” Jigre said. “Tanaka has always been very adamant about student opinion on this.”

To Jigre, the experience of replacing Arévalo, a man he considers a personal mentor, has been surreal.

“I thought he was going to be here for another decade,” Jigre said. “But I guess that’s not the case — people move on. This is a new opportunity for Eastern.”

“The president has such a big job,” Adams said. “He oversees all of the faculty, all the staff, all the students, runs a huge budget. The next president will need to be competent enough to handle that and responsible enough to move this university forward. I think it’s really important for any student, faculty, staff, administrator or anyone at EWU to contribute their opinion to this.”

Jigre said he encourages students to stop by the ASEWU office to fill out the form and submit it to the committee. He hopes to present the opinions to the board of trustees at their next meeting on May 15.

“Just bring yourself and your ideas,” Jigre said, “and we will give you the piece of paper.”