President Mary Cullinan: EWU is powered by people

By Mary Cullinan, Guest Columnist

Mary Cullinan is the EWU president. Guest columns do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of The Easterner, its staff members or Eastern Washington University.

In your life as a student, I’m sure you’re focused on your classes, on midterms and finals, on all the commitments of your busy existence. You work with faculty members; you communicate with resident hall staff if you live on campus; you interact with other students everyday.

But today, I ask that you consider all the campus employees and supporters whom you rarely see—or maybe don’t even know about. An army of folks helps to make our campuses beautiful, accessible, safe and useful places to study, work and live.

On EWU campuses in Cheney and Spokane, faculty and staff inspire, teach, advise, coach and mentor more than 11,000 students.

EWU staff cook and serve thousands of meals everyday. EWU teams keep the campus safe and beautiful, manage budgets, support and introduce new technologies, handle trash and recycling, put on hundreds of campus events and contribute significantly to the intellectual, cultural, social and athletic life of the campuses.

This winter, we’re able to enjoy the renovated PUB—one of the most beautiful and useful student unions in the country. Hundreds of students and staff as well as architects and other professionals helped to bring our gorgeous building to life.

Next door to the PUB is the construction site for our new Interdisciplinary Science Center. EWU students as well as faculty, staff and community supporters helped to make sure that building was included in our state’s budget last year. And again, faculty, staff, students, architects, engineers and construction workers have been essential to making that important new building a reality.

During the current legislative session in Olympia, ASEWU leaders such as Dante Tyler, Austin Quinn and Angélica García-Macías work with EWU executive leadership, faculty, staff and our government relations team to ensure that EWU receives the state resources for the education and services that students need and deserve.

Every winter, we should appreciate deeply the many EWU staff who keep our campuses operating year-round. Even if we cancel classes on an extreme weather day, staff work 24/7 to plow and shovel, check heating systems, ensure roofs aren’t leaking, confirm high-tech systems are functional and keep hallways and classroom floors dry and safe. And often, in winter, the folks clearing the parking lots and walkways of snow and ice are working hard in freezing conditions.

When you come to events such as Commencement and Homecoming, large numbers of EWU employees have been working for weeks to make your experience positive and comfortable.

Do you attend home basketball games? Before every game, people work in Reese Court from early morning to get ready for you: concessions, janitors, ticket takers, camera technicians, athletics staff and student band members.

Our campuses are complex communities with infrastructure and staffing much like a city’s. Without the army of folks who are invisible to us much of the time, our beautiful, efficient and highly functional campuses in Cheney and Spokane wouldn’t be able to operate.

As we look toward spring, putting away the snow plows and getting out the lawn mowing equipment, let’s remember to thank the people who do so much for EWU. They are a crucial part of our campus experiences and our success as a university.

And each of you reading this is vitally important as well. I appreciate everything you do to support the quality of life and the vitality of this outstanding university.