Dear Eagle Family and Friends,
Fall is truly in the air in Cheney as EWU welcomes students back to campus for the first time in 18 long months. Starting Wednesday, Sept. 22, we will be back in classrooms, labs, studios and dining halls. Will we be out on the mall and the playing fields. In short, we will finally be returning to the places we once took for granted, those special sites where teaching, learning, living and community happen every day.
There is a growing vibrancy that we have profoundly missed since March 2020. Of course, our students have been waiting for this day perhaps more eagerly than any of us. Hard to believe, but we have almost two full classes of new Eagles who have never fully experienced non-digital campus life — until this moment. This is why university faculty and staff have diligently worked to personally welcome new and second-year students into the EWU family. Many of these students are among the more than 900 students moving into our residence halls, bringing with them a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
We remain mindful of the evolving situation with Covid-19, keenly aware that many of us are tired and worried as we navigate this latest phase of the pandemic. Our lives have changed, and many of us have felt disconnected from our daily routines at work and at home. This is why the Eagle family will continue to rely on each other as we begin this important academic year.
As you all can imagine, planning for a return to in-person instruction has been challenging. Through it all, health and safety remains our number one priority. We are continually evaluating our protocols in conjunction with guidance from state and public health experts. In addition to our vaccine requirement for students, faculty and staff (which includes medical and religious exemptions), we are following the Governor’s masking mandate, which applies to all of our locations and programs. Each of you can also visit our revamped Covid-19 resource page for updated information and announcements this fall at ewu.edu/coronavirus.
Our EagsVaxUp program continues to be a success, and it was a delight last month to award a full year tuition waiver to one of our vaccinated students, Erin Conroy. It was so nice to see how this waiver will provide particularly meaningful support for Erin, who, like many of our students, works hard to earn tuition money to support the pursuit of her degree.
The return to campus life will also present many unique opportunities for Eastern students. For the first time, our students will now get a chance to fully utilize new, state-of-art facilities like the Catalyst in downtown Spokane’s University District and the Interdisciplinary Science Center here on the Cheney campus. In addition, we will soon start work on the renovation of research and teaching facilities in the adjacent Science Building. When completed, the building will join the ISC as a major component in enhancing opportunities for students to more fully participate in the groundbreaking research of our faculty scientists and scholars.
I would be remiss not to mention the exciting start of fall sports, as activities and events are already sending a buzz throughout campus. Our Eagle football team, for example, has already won big games at UNLV and at home against Central Washington University. We are now planning for a festive and safe atmosphere when EWU hosts the University of Montana Grizzlies on Saturday, Oct. 2, a nationally televised matchup (ESPNU) against perhaps our biggest football rival.
Finally, I view this critical academic year as a great opportunity to reintegrate our students into campus life, and to help them successfully navigate their pathway toward earning a degree and contributing to the communities we all seek to serve. There are many challenges ahead as we plot our future, and I am certain the Eastern community will rise to meet them together, Eagle Strong.
I will share more of my thoughts and plans for the year during my annual State of the University Address at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21, in Showalter Hall. Please join us in person (mask required) or watch live on Zoom.
I look forward to hopefully seeing more of you here on our beautiful campus in the weeks ahead.
David May, PhD
Eastern Washington University