President’s eagerness to help students

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By Emily Driskel, News Editor

 

Over the course of the summer, EWU has seen many transitions, such as the new leadership roles in administration. David May, who previously held the provost position at EWU, started his new role as interim president early August. 

During the State of the University Address, May mentioned many changes like reevaluating the majors and minors offered at EWU. The Easterner talked to May about these changes and how the process will look when evaluating the programs.

This process will be managed out of academic affairs with Provost Dr. Brian Levin-Stankevich. The Educational Advisory Board works with Academic Affairs throughout this important step for EWU.

“We ask them to take a look at our data and provide us a report on some relative strengths, health, outreach measures of the various majors in programs and departments,” – David May, EWU President

May believes that the provost will have recommendations to the committee at the end of this week or the beginning of next week.

EWU athletics has also been a concern of the EWU community.

“What athletics is going to look like at EWU is certainly on the minds of a lot of people,” said May. “Especially our student athletes, coaching staff, our faculty, our alumni and our booster club.”  

May said that they are looking into athletics currently, but the budget requires that any decision made will be a long-term approach. 

Both the athletic and academic side of EWU is a work in progress.

“The goal for this year is to work through all of the background work or a plan with how we are going to move forward with the academic side and on the athletic side,” said May.

May states that if the university decides to end a major, it will not end today.

“Any student who is in that major will have the opportunity to complete that major here at EWU,” said May. 

May said students will continue to have the opportunity to reach their educational goals.

For EWU, it is important to May that our university continues to have conversations about diversity and equity and inclusion.

Dr. Deirdre Almeida, American Indian Studies professor, and Dr. Shari Clarke, VP of Diversity and Inclusion, talk at Diversity Award Reception in 2018. (Mckenzie Ford)

“Now is not the time to back down, to back away, to take your foot off the gas because the moment is now,” said May.

May said EWU has been courageous in response to COVID-19, students’ needs and how students have been responding in these difficult times. He continues to have conversations with Dr. Shari Clarke, the vice president of Diversity and Inclusion. 

May believes that it is necessary to start talking about the curriculum and the atmosphere in the classroom regarding diversity and inclusion. He said we need to be able to have these hard conversations.

“We have to equip students, we have to equip faculty, we have to equip staff with the tools to be able to say something,” May said. “Not that it has to be perfect, not that it has to solve everything but just looking away is something we can no longer do.”

For May, the challenge has been maintaining a consistent focus on two things: health and safety for the EWU community and student success.

“It’s not just success but it’s recruitment and intention,” said May. “It’s learning in the classroom, it’s graduation, it’s all of that.”

May also said that a group of all the presidents of the Washington universities meet every Friday to discuss the approaches for winter quarter. The approaches will look different on each campus because every university has their variations. 

“But it is reaffirming our commitment that we are going to have to keep public health centered while we continue to strive everyday to deliver that rigorous, engaged conversation,” said May. “Whether that is on Zoom calls or whether that’s on a lab in Spokane in a physical therapy class.” 

The presidents are having conversations on what works and how universities can be better in the winter.

“It is reaffirming our commitment that we are going to have to keep public health centered while we continue to strive everyday to deliver that rigorous, engaged conversation,” -David May, EWU President

May states that all colleges are faced with students’ perceptions of the challenges of online learning during the pandemic. He said it will not be possible to bring a thousand students back to campus to fill the lecture halls. That would not be centered around the student’s safety. 

May said the EWU community has been responsible this fall, and there are some things the EWU community can do responsibly and safely.

“The work we do this fall,” said May. “The difficulties and challenges we continue to confront as administration, as faculty and students, the difficulties, the uncomfort: that is what is going to help us get to a little bit better place in the winter and spring.” 

During the State of the University Address, May continued to repeat the phrase “Eagle Strong.” In his mind, the phrase does not refer to just an individual.

“Eagle Strong is about us together because as strong as any one of us thinks we are,” said May. “We are stronger together.”  

He said it is more than just a catch phrase; it’s about the EWU community.

“We have to be able to rely on each other and we have to let other people rely on us,” said May.

May told The Easterner he appreciates these opportunities to be in front of people. He said he sees the freshmen students whose spring semesters earlier this year were shattered and the students last spring who didn’t get the chance to have graduation. 

“I want people to know that I am a real person, and I’m not a guy sitting in a wood paneled office,” May said. “Everybody here is here for the same reasons, it’s educational excellence, student’s success, it’s moving people, coming into this university.”