Campus Message on Athletics, Program Review, and Budget

Dear Campus Community,

This afternoon (Friday, May 21) the EWU Board of Trustees received reports on several key items facing the university as we redefine the institution’s role on the other side of this pandemic and best serve students, the economy and our community. 

As you know, some of these issues have been at the forefront of campus and public discussion for most of the last year. And while we are close to a resolution on some things, the process is just beginning on others. 

Athletics Review: Based on the totality of the information, data and input available, I have recommended to the BOT that Eastern should continue to compete in NCAA Division 1 athletics and should remain in the Big Sky Conference. This was a difficult and complex decision to reach, but I believe athletics is part of the cultural fabric of the university, and like academics, can help us fulfill our mission and vision. My plan asks that we chart a path of sustainability for athletics in the coming months, and I invite you to read my full report on the Athletics Review website, where you can also submit public comments through Friday, June 4.

Program Review: The administration today also presented the Board with the first reading of the Academic Program Review. This is just the start of an ongoing, collaborative process to reshape our academic offerings to meet the needs of students and the workforce. While discontinuing or downsizing certain programs is never easy, we must have the courage to consolidate or eliminate programs to maintain our commitment to students in alignment with our mission. The full Program Review report is available on the Provost’s website, where you can also link back to the BOT feedback page for input on this issue.

2021-23 Budget: The budget situation for Eastern is certainly better than we projected a year ago. But similar to what higher education is facing nationwide, there are still budget challenges created by COVID and enrollment declines – issues that we are working hard to mitigate. Thanks to a zero-cuts state budget and federal stimulus assistance, it looks like the university will not have to do another round of furloughs after the current cycle is complete on August 31. The Board will finalize the budget at its June 24 meeting, and like all budgets it is based on assumptions that could change in the coming year. Budget input is also encouraged, and can also be done on the BOT feedback page

As I told the Board today, it is often tempting to retreat in the face of adversity and challenge. EWU has obviously had its share of both over the last year, but we have not backed down. And while we have not all agreed on every issue or outcome, I am truly thankful for everyone’s input and hard work to help us weather the storm and remain committed to our mission. Working together we are Eagle Strong. 

David May

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