Eastern Oregon University https://www.eou.edu Oregon's Rural University Tue, 03 Nov 2020 22:09:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 Bringing the classroom home https://www.eou.edu/news-press/bringing-the-classroom-home/ Tue, 03 Nov 2020 22:01:29 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32202 Bringing the classroom home: GO STEM Hub distributes learning kits for rural families
EOU football players assembled STEM kits for rural fourth graders on Oct. 31. Kits included craft supplies, snacks and instructions for at-home science and engineering activities.

Nov. 2, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Football players, food service workers and on-campus staff at Eastern Oregon University are doing their parts to bring STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to youngsters in rural Oregon. 

The Greater Oregon STEM Hub at EOU used grant funds from the Oregon Community Foundation to address student needs in regional counties hardest hit by COVID-19. OCF awarded GO STEM $19,950 to construct and distribute 2,000 at-home STEM kits.

GO STEM plans to deliver kits to every fourth grade student in Umatilla and Morrow Counties, as well as key districts and schools that remain virtual or have spikes in COVID cases. Fourth graders were chosen because they are often the youngest students that experience a virtual learning environment. 

“The objective of this project was to involve the fourth grade students in hands-on STEM explorations that are self-directed and can be done with or without teacher guidance,” said GO STEM Executive Director David Melville. 

The kits focus on engineering design and construction with sail cars and parachutes, and geometry with straw structures. GO STEM worked with kit supplier Pitsco Education to replace plastic straws with a paper version, and to include directions in both Spanish and English. The company has since applied these changes throughout its products. 

GO STEM worked with members of EOU’s football team to build the 2,000 STEM kits, while ensuring all involved observed the university’s COVID-19 safety protocols. Student-athletes built boxes, packaged project kits and other materials, and sealed the kits for distribution. 

“Without the help of EOU football players and coaches, we would not be able to get these kits in the hands of the students,” Melville said. 

Another EOU partner, Sodexo, offered additional support. Sodexo provides food services at EOU and supplied Goldfish crackers and granola bars for each STEM kit. 

“Not only are our students needing direct STEM education in their homes, but many of our most at-risk students are also food insecure.” said Program Director for GO STEM Donna Rainboth. “This partnership is win-win for our students!”

Delivering the kits to families in rural counties required a collaboration outside of EOU.

“As you can imagine, getting these kits in the hands of students across eastern Oregon is a huge lift,” said Erin Lair, Director of Teaching and Learning at InterMountain Educational Service District (IMESD). “We are happy to provide our courier service to help distribute the kits. It is just what we do.” 

IMESD is working closely with EOU’s Shipping and Receiving Department in these efforts. 

“Shipping and Receiving has been amazing in helping us move these massive amounts of materials. Not only did they store and move the kit materials, they allowed us to stage and store the kits so they can be picked up by IMESD for delivery,” said Echo Knight, Program Assistant for GO STEM.

By building relationships across university departments, GO STEM leveraged the strengths of students, staff and on-campus partners. 

“Eastern Oregon University and the Greater Oregon STEM Hub continue to build a strong relationship to benefit our region’s students – from preschool to college,” said Dean of the College of Education Matt Seimears. “Together we can and do make a difference.”

Learn more about GO STEM programs at go-stem.org.

Reviving the golden age of radio https://www.eou.edu/news-press/reviving-the-golden-age-of-radio/ Tue, 27 Oct 2020 23:20:49 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32196 Reviving the golden age of radio

Oct. 27, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The night was black and thunder rang out after cracks of lightning. In the darkness, footsteps creaked old floorboards while rain pounded on the roof. They heard a knock at the door and shivers slid down their spines as their heads turned to see… 

“Mountie Mystery Theatre” revives the golden age of radio. In lieu of a play, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Eastern Oregon University theatre and music departments performed and recorded four spooky stories for listeners. Gather around the radio at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29 for “The Black Figurine of Death,” and “The Haunted Crossroads,” then come back at the same time the following evening for psychological thrillers “Kill, Kill, Kill” and “The Wages of Sin are Death.” 

Professors Peter Wordelman, Luke McKern and Kenn Wheeler joined forces to create and produce the radio shows with theatre and choir students just in time for Halloween. 

“I wanted to come up with something dramatic, something that the kids could do that wouldn’t mean rehearsing and presenting it to a live audience,” said Wheeler, who teaches acting and theatre at EOU. “So I came up with this idea for radio plays like the old-fashioned kind that they had back in the 1940s.”

Plans have been in place for the event since summer, and the department had to find ways to abide by CDC regulations regarding a music production during the pandemic. 

“When I had originally envisioned it, I thought we would be able to record them like they used to with four or five mics and everybody would step up to the mic,” Wheeler said. “But when we realized that the restrictions here on campus are not just social distancing, but social distancing and masks, we had to figure out how to do it with masks.”

So each speaking cast member was equipped with a specialized choir mask (singer’s mask) that allowed for clearer sound and less muffling. An array of masked students were also on set to help with sound effects. 

“We got everyone involved in some way, shape or form… We did have one recording session prior to this where we recorded the theme song one day and some group sound effects,” said Wordelman, who teaches music and directs the EOU choir. “We recorded wind, we recorded the ‘guilty/not guilty,’ the crowd yelling and angry mobs.”  

Music and music technology instructor Luke McKern produced the shows. His students helped create vintage radio ads for the production by enhancing them and inserting sound effects like jingles or gong noises. 

The four hour-long shows will broadcast over a two-night period with two episodes an evening, starting at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30. The shows will be broadcast over Supertalk Radio 1450 AM and will also play on supertalkradio.com

The performances will be posted to the EOU YouTube Channel, along with still images of production and short video clips, after the shows have aired. 

To learn more about EOU Theatre productions, visit eou.edu/theatre.

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Let’s talk business: EOU earns top distinctions https://www.eou.edu/news-press/lets-talk-business-eou-earns-top-distinctions/ Tue, 27 Oct 2020 23:12:51 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32192 Let’s talk business: EOU earns top distinctions
College of Business graduates at Commencement in June 2019

Oct. 27, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University has received a multitude of awards ranging from “Most Affordable Four-Year College” to being named one of the top 50 Business Schools. Behind each of these distinctions is an EOU program or college that made it possible.  

The College of Business at EOU has reaffirmed its longstanding IACBE accreditation this year, showing that it adheres to the nine international standards of excellence.   

Dean Ed Henninger, alongside faculty leaders in the college, prepared documentation for the IACBE board over the last year. EOU received news in July that its accreditation status would be reaffirmed and approval granted through December 2027, aligning with EOU’s Strategic Plan.

“Everything from student success to transformative education and the number of lives impacted, the accreditation principles align well with many academic quality and student success goals within EOU’s Strategic Plan,” Henninger said.  

The accreditation of the College of Business not only impacts students, but demonstrates that EOU programs are recognized by external stakeholders. Community members can be assured that EOU is accountable and complies with leading standards for business education.   

“Aligned well with the mission of the IACBE, our college’s overarching goal is the continuous improvement of business education at EOU, including operational and student learning outcomes,” he said.

The College of Business also has  plans for new classes, a research center, and revised and expanded programs and majors. The recently created Eastern Oregon Center for Economic Information will facilitate joint faculty-student research projects and internships to impact economic and workforce development in the region. 

One of the degrees under development is a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) in Agricultural Entrepreneurship. Students in the program will learn to cultivate businesses while mastering state-of-the-art agricultural farming techniques and technological tools. New career-ready marketing and entrepreneurship programs, as well as an updated College Advisory Council, showcase the college’s accelerating action plans.  

“We believe that the future depends on what we do in the present,” Henninger said. 

For more information about the College of Business, visit eou.edu/college-of-business.  

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Economic research promises better data for rural counties https://www.eou.edu/news-press/economic-research-promises-better-data-for-rural-counties/ Thu, 22 Oct 2020 21:17:11 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32186 Economic research promises better data for rural counties 

Oct. 22, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Rural Engagement and Vitality (REV) Center, a partnership of Eastern Oregon University and Wallowa Resources, works toward building connections between the university and community members. Recently, two professors and two students began developing one of these partnerships through Community Profiles and Economic Impact Analysis.

Faculty and students from EOU will provide socioeconomic research and analytical services for counties and communities to facilitate the understanding of current conditions and trends, support various planning efforts, and undertake economic impact analysis of specific projects or investments in the region.

REV Center Program Manager Julie Keniry said the Blues Intergovernmental Council (BIC) reached out to the REV Center about coordinating economic research in rural Oregon. This project will help the BIC understand the impacts of forest management across the Blue Mountain region, including the potential impacts of new forest plans for the three national forests in eastern Oregon. The analysis will compare the relative impacts and economic resilience across 10 counties in Oregon and four in southeast Washington, informing future forest management in the region. 

The funding for this project comes from the U.S. Forest Service and the Eastern Oregon Counties Association. Economics professors Peter Maille and Scott McConnell have taken the lead on constructing socioeconomic profiles for each county involved. 

“Communities could focus on information our analysis provides to better understand economic vulnerabilities. Some could use it to argue for forest management policies that mitigate a possible economic harm or enhance a possible benefit,” Maille said. “Our basic hope is that the communities and the Forest Service can make better decisions by having better information.” 

The grant also allows for two EOU students to work as interns and assist Maille and McConnell with the project. 

“What happens in these forests impacts the counties, and the communities and the people in them when National Forest plans shift. Access or harvest level, that can change the amount of wood product going through an economy,” Maille said. “So, what we’re trying to do is model how an economy—a given county’s economy—will respond to those kinds of changes.” 

Maille’s work on this project can be integrated into coursework for future classes. He said it will give students real-world, practical examples to work with involving economics. He hopes that this project of computing a county’s economic resilience will open the door for valuable long-term monitoring of economic change in the rural west. 

“There is always an economic analysis done as part of the forest plan, but it’s more generalized and this data will be specific to our region and even provide some detail about the impact that activities on the forest could have on smaller logging-focused communities, which normally don’t show up in high-level economic analyses,” Keniry said. 

Projects create opportunities for professors and students at EOU to work among different statewide groups. The REV Center at EOU acts as a gateway to success for businesses by supplying researchers and interns for a multitude of projects.

“It could be really valuable to communities to have this information for a lot of other reasons beyond the forest plan development,” Keniry said. “So we are looking forward to discovering what those other things might be in the future.”  

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Board to consider library name change at November meeting https://www.eou.edu/news-press/board-to-consider-library-name-change-at-november-meeting/ Wed, 21 Oct 2020 08:00:00 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32180 EOU Board to consider library name change at November meeting
Three members of the Pierce Library Naming Committee (from left) library faculty Katie Townsend, history professor Rebecca Hartman and student Andrea Camacho in Pierce Library. Other members of the committee not pictured are Joel Chin and Tim Seydel.

Oct. 20, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Following lengthy research, the Pierce Library Naming Committee submitted its report to Eastern Oregon University President Tom Insko in August. 

Insko requested the report and charged a committee made up of students, faculty and staff to complete the work necessary to evaluate a name change. The report is on the agenda for EOU’s Board of Trustees during its regular meeting Nov. 12. The report recommends removal of the library’s name. The Board will review written testimony and hear public testimony before voting.   

“We must never be complacent in prioritizing the values of justice and equity in the work we do every day at EOU, and we must intentionally carry these values into every conversation we have in this community and every decision we make as leaders of the university,” Insko said. “The name of the library is one of those conversations that continues within, and outside of, the EOU community.”

The library’s namesakes, Walter and Cornelia Pierce, held a number of public leadership roles in Oregon during the first half of the 20th Century. Walter served as a state senator and as  Governor of Oregon in the early 1920s and later in the U.S. Congress. Cornelia was State Librarian and advocated for policies her husband promoted. Shortly after Walter’s death in 1954, the State Board of Higher Education named the library for him, and then 45 years later a committee of faculty members recommended changing the name to include Cornelia. 

That 1999 committee researched Pierce’s legacy to uncover whether he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. While they found insufficient evidence to determine his membership in the KKK, it became clear he had curried favor with the Klan to win the governorship. Transcripts from Pierce’s speeches, as well as legislation he fought to pass, reveal anti-Catholic, xenophobic and white supremacist beliefs, according to the committee’s report

Over the interceding years, students have continued to question the naming. In 2018, EOU’s student government leaders called for a re-consideration of the library’s name along with the Faculty Senate, and Insko established a committee to lead an investigation. The committee of students, faculty, staff and administration identified criteria against which to judge the appropriateness of the name, and discussed whether the Pierces’ actions align with EOU’s values and principles. 

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members are encouraged to read the report and supplemental information and to submit written testimony at eou.edu/pierce-library-renaming. Written comments received by Nov. 9 will be shared with trustees prior to the meeting. 

A limited opportunity for oral public comment will be available via Zoom video conferencing when the Board considers this agenda item. Individuals wishing to provide oral comment must sign up through the Oral Public Comment Form by Nov. 9. Time constraints may limit the number of people allowed to make oral comments.

“As an academic institution, we endeavor to make decisions based on research and facts, and to follow a thorough process when making decisions that impact our campus environment so that a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives can be heard,” Insko said. “This also ensures we can all learn and be engaged in those discussions and decisions.” 

Harmonizing communities statewide https://www.eou.edu/news-press/harmonizing-communities-statewide/ Mon, 19 Oct 2020 21:39:43 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32173 Harmonizing communities statewide
EOU President Tom Insko speaks to students in the Urban-Rural Ambassadors Summer Institute in 2018.

Oct. 19, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Rural Engagement and Vitality (REV) Center—a program started by Eastern Oregon University and Wallowa Resources in January—has already embarked on a project to connect rural and urban Oregonians. 

“The mission of the REV Center is to connect EOU faculty and students with the regional community through meaningful projects,” said REV Center Program Manager Julie Keniry. 

The REV Center integrates community and campus life in a myriad of ways, including internships and off-campus employment. Recently, two students were hired to assist with a theatre project bridging urban and rural communities. 

The REV Center partnered with Sarah and Jack Greenman, who created the Urban/Rural Theatre Project. Based on a series of statewide interviews, conducted with help from EOU student interns, the project will showcase similarities and differences between urban and rural Oregonians and their communities. The project is already a year in, and the interviewing process will commence soon. 

“We think there’s a lot more that connects us than divides us…but there’s a lot that divides us and it needs to be spoken about and talked about. We believe in the power of telling someone’s verbatim story as a bridge for authentic community building,” playwright Sarah Greenman said. 

The stories, lifted directly from interview transcripts with real Oregonians, will be performed in a theatre-like setting. Greenman said she hopes to showcase what it means to come from a specific community.    

“We are on a mission to unearth various stories from all over the state about how our place in the state informs how we work, how we feel, how we relate– it’s how we build our families, how we run our businesses, and we are hoping to have a much larger conversation statewide about what it means to be in community with each other,” she said. 

The project will highlight struggles and perspectives that come with living in rural or urban environments and build a solid foundation for communication between the differing communities. The project is set to be completed in two years. 

By integrating EOU students and giving them real-world experience through writing and helping conduct interviews, the REV Center connects community and student life in order to benefit both parties.   

“If you want people to care about each other, you have to know their stories. Once you know their stories, you are creating a kind of intimacy… and once you start to care about them, you start to advocate for them, and you start to think about your world as connected to theirs, because it is,” Greenman said.

For more information regarding the REV Center, please visit eou.edu/rev

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

A cultural engine for rural places https://www.eou.edu/news-press/a-cultural-engine-for-rural-places/ Tue, 13 Oct 2020 21:40:56 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32156 A cultural engine for rural places
Bennie Moses-Mesubed leads a workshop at the CEAD Conference in February 2020.

Oct. 13, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – In the predominantly white setting of rural Oregon, the Student Diversity and Inclusion Office at Eastern Oregon University plays a distinct role. 

Director Bennie Moses-Mesubed said her work serves dual purposes. On one hand, she works to equip white students with intercultural competence training focused on understanding power, privilege and oppression, and how it impacts interactions and people’s perceptions of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Meanwhile, she works to support students of color and other traditionally marginalized students. Her office provides tools to help these students navigate through institutional inequities and empowers them to transform barriers and challenges into opportunities for success. 

Her position at the university has allowed Moses-Mesubed to reach beyond the borders of campus and shape policy for the region and state. She’s a member of the Oregon Commission on Asian Pacific Islanders, and was recently selected to join the governor’s new Racial Justice Council. She said that participation in both groups has allowed her to share the experience of living in rural communities and her perspective on higher education. 

“Equity and inclusion is different in rural contexts,” Moses-Mesubed said. “It’s always about building relationships, finding common ground, and coming into a conversation recognizing that we have different backgrounds and lived experiences. But meeting people where they’re at allows us to support each other through our DEI journey to where we want to be as a community.”

She’s also serving as vice president of the COFA Alliance National Network. Founded in Oregon in 2014, the nonprofit advocates for people from the three Pacific Island nations in the Compact of Free Association (COFA) treaty with the United States: The Republic of Palau, The Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.  

Staff in the Student Diversity and Inclusion Office

“I’m very proud of this organization in Union County because they’re able to see the gaps that people in rural areas are facing,” Moses-Mesubed said. “Pacific Islanders are rural people, we identify culturally with ideas of knowing your neighbor, community support and sharing resources. We’re attracted to small communities because islands are small, and that perspective really helped with some of our rural COVID initiatives in realizing that when someone needs help, we mobilize and support those who are most vulnerable in our community.”

Since the establishment of EOU’s Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion in 2018, Moses-Mesubed has built a staff of equally involved individuals. Katie Harris-Murphy, who coordinates the Native American Program and other SDI initiatives, has connections with the Pendleton Round-Up. Mika Morton, Assistant Director of SDI who oversees international students programs and study abroad, participates in Oregon’s restorative justice work. 

“Many of our faculty and staff of color are involved in our communities,” Moses-Mesubed said. “We’re involved in things that elevate who we are as an institution, but also allow us to continue to make a difference in the communities we live in. I’m really seeing the connection between the work we do within our campus, here in our community, and how we shape policies and action at the state level.”

Harnessing the voices of traditionally marginalized people from rural Oregon has become a passion for Moses-Mesubed, and an educational opportunity for EOU students and the entire community. 

“We’ve been able to cultivate opportunities with local leadership and create pathways to sharing our unique perspectives and lived experiences,” Moses-Mesubed said. “SDI is involved in many kinds of activities: providing exposure to cultural traditions and celebrations, and organizing the only large diversity, equity and inclusion conference on this side of the state.” 

She said that by enrolling ethnically diverse students, EOU continues to enrich the region and offer opportunities for community members to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds, beliefs and perspectives.  

Learn more about the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion at eou.edu/mc.

EOU cancels Trick-or-Treat due to COVID precautions https://www.eou.edu/news-press/eou-cancels-trick-or-treat-due-to-covid-precautions/ Mon, 12 Oct 2020 22:02:10 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32152 EOU cancels Trick-or-Treat due to COVID precautions
Pumpkin with EOU carved in it

Oct.12, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – It seems to have been witch-ful thinking that Halloween would have gone as planned this year, but it will still be spook-tacular. Following public health guidelines and practical safety measures , Eastern Oregon University Residence Halls will not host their annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat for community members. 

Many university events integrate students with local life. However, this means when problems arise, like a pandemic, it is important to prioritize community health.

Residence Life Director Jeremy Jones said that after exhausting many options, there was no viable way to host the event in a way that promoted safety. It will be important for everyone to assess their Halloween activities for risk and find creative ways to celebrate Halloween.

“The RA’s and programming through the Center for Student Involvement are all working to try and find innovative ways to engage students and build a strong community during this pandemic,” he said. 

Jones understands that there may be some disappointment among community members, as well as college students. Acknowledging the importance of this event, he hopes to resume next year when many events are able to be held on campus once again. 

“I always want to take the opportunity to thank our community and to thank our students for their sacrifice and continued commitment to the safety and the well-being of our students and our community,” Jones said. “I’m just so grateful to be here in La Grande and weathering the storm with such great people.”  

Written by PR Intern Emily Andrews

Building bridges for a brighter tomorrow https://www.eou.edu/news-press/building-bridges-for-a-brighter-tomorrow/ Mon, 05 Oct 2020 20:31:47 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32134 Building bridges for a brighter tomorrow

Oct. 5, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – The Bridge Academy at Eastern Oregon University bundles online courses to help students reach their career and educational goals. Three Bridges are open for enrollment now: Healthcare Administration, Trauma-Invested Care, and Physical Education. 

Each individual pathway is its own Bridge. These Bridges are meant for students who are interested in advancing in their careers or adding courses to a degree. Although Bridge Academy does not offer certificates of any kind, the series of courses in a Bridge are designed to provide tools to succeed in each line of work and are credit bearing. 

David Vande Pol, Executive Director of Regional Outreach and Innovation, said these courses are an opportunity for individuals who aren’t necessarily seeking a degree in higher education. 

“There are literally millions of working adults, in particular, who don’t necessarily want or need a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. They simply need additional college courses that can enable them to advance their educational careers, their vocational careers, or career standing. We are trying to accommodate that need,” Vande Pol said.  

The Bridge Academy is focused on the idea of providing an opportunity for individuals already in the workforce who want to expand their education. For example, the Healthcare Administration Bridge is designed for healthcare professionals who want to advance their careers. The program consists of six 10-week classes that vary in credits. 

Vande Pol said he is excited to see different universities refer their students to the Bridge Academy bundles, as he feels they will be useful to a wide variety of students since all of the courses are fully online.  

“Technology has so accelerated change in our world that everyone is struggling to keep up and perhaps no one more so than higher education,” he said. “The Bridge Academy is our response to that rapid change because we are nimble enough to react to needs of students as they arise.”

For more information about EOU’s Bridge Academy, visit eou.edu/bridge-academy.

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Accessibility for all in Loso Hall https://www.eou.edu/news-press/accessibility-for-all-in-loso-hall/ Mon, 05 Oct 2020 18:42:56 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32122 Accessibility for all in Loso Hall
McKenzie Theatre under construction
McKenzie Theatre, EOU’s main performing space, is undergoing a transformation to improve seating, staging and accessibility.

Oct. 5, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – As the school year begins at Eastern Oregon University, renovations in Loso Hall are in full swing. Students walking to class will notice the exterior stairs on the east side of the building being updated, as well as the northern entrance walkways. What they have yet to see are the state-of-the-art renovations happening inside Schwarz and McKenzie Theatres.

Renovations to the building commenced this summer and aim to be completed by February 2021. By then, both theaters will resemble professional stages and will be more ADA accessible. 

Kenn Wheeler, Associate Professor of Theatre at EOU, said McKenzie Theatre is undergoing transformation in phases. The first phase included updating the seats and stage access to include two walkways on either side, leading up to the stage. 

“They will be getting new seats, they’re changing the lighting system and the sound system and updating those,” Wheeler said. 

The smaller performing space at EOU, Schwarz Theatre, is undergoing major renovations that include portable seating, as well as new LED lighting.   

Schwarz Theatre under construction
Schwarz Theatre renovations include stairless entry and a rotating stage.

“In the small theater, they have done and are doing some amazing things,” Wheeler said. “The first thing they’re doing is bringing the floor up to ground level so there won’t be any need for steps when you enter and exit the space. The other awesome thing they are doing that I am really excited about is, they’re putting in a revolving stage… so we can actually revolve the acting space as we are performing and that’s an exciting thing to be able to do.” 

Wheeler said he is most excited about being able to provide students with experience in a professional theater environment.

For more information about Loso Hall and upcoming productions, visit eou.edu/theatre

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

EOU completes mass COVID-19 test https://www.eou.edu/news-press/eou-completes-mass-covid-19-test/ Thu, 24 Sep 2020 23:45:25 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32082 EOU completes mass COVID-19 test
EOU students line up for COVID-19 testing on Sept. 21 at Community Stadium.

Sept. 24, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University pro-actively conducted COVID-19 testing for all on-campus students on Sept. 21. Results arrived today and indicate that seven students tested positive out of 881 that participated in testing. 

“This was a huge event to pull together, and was led by EOU’s Student Affairs staff with volunteers from across campus,” said VP for University Advancement Tim Seydel. “Students also did a great job in self-isolating before arriving on campus and following guidelines to lower their risk of exposure.”  

So far this fall, the university has conducted 1,033 tests and has a 1% positive case rate. This is well below the state average of 5%. Overall, 10 students have tested positive since returning to campus, and one additional student tested positive over the summer. 

Students who test positive, and those who have been in contact with them, are observing quarantine regulations for 14 days. EOU residence halls have established isolation rooms for on-campus residents who have to quarantine, and the university is providing care throughout that time. 

EOU plans to begin holding many in-person classes on Monday, while also providing remote-access coursework, including for those in quarantine. About half of EOU’s on-campus courses are being offered in-person this fall, and the rest are being delivered either through remote-access or in a hybrid format.

Extensive planning for this resumption process took place over the summer, and a range of new safety protocols have been implemented across campus. Dining services, tutoring, library resources, residence life and athletics have all modified their operations to meet standards set by the governor’s office and the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. 

Students and employees must complete a daily self-health check, face coverings are required in all buildings, and physical distancing signage is posted throughout university facilities. The La Grande campus remains closed to the public, but faculty, staff and students have returned to their posts for another term. 

“Staff, faculty and students put in a lot of time over the last several months to ensure we had a smooth resumption process,” Seydel said. “We plan to continue monitoring the health of our campus community and we are prepared to care for those who test positive. Mostly, though, we’re looking forward to the pay-off of being able to carry out our mission as Oregon’s Rural University and providing access to higher education for students no matter where they are.”

Additional information is available at eou.edu/coronavirus/pandemic-resumption-plan, including a testing data dashboard that is updated daily at 5 p.m. 

Masked, moved-in and motivated at EOU https://www.eou.edu/news-press/masked-moved-in-and-motivated-at-eou/ Wed, 23 Sep 2020 18:48:04 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32073 Masked, moved-in and motivated at EOU
Students follow physical distancing guidelines while waiting to check in.

Sept. 23, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Cars lined the streets of Eastern Oregon University, each counting down the minutes until Move-In Day commenced. As the line started to move, masked students began meeting their RA’s, blankets and boxes in hand—ready for their college adventure during a pandemic.

Healthy behaviors like physically distanced lines, hand sanitizer stations, and mask wearing ensured students, staff and faculty remained safe during the excitement. Orientation leaders helped guide traffic and kept incoming students organized. For many of the students, it was their first time away from home and their families, and many said they were excited for college and the on-campus experience. 

First-year biology student Samantha Spriet said, “I think EOU did a good job of telling us what the expectations were and all the regulations.”

Orientation leader Dustin Follett said he was impressed with the incoming students’ ability to adapt during the move-in event. He said that he could tell students and their parents had read the emails EOU had sent out prior to the event, and he could tell they were ready to adapt to changes: something all members of the campus community will have to practice this year. 

“I was really surprised to see that the parents were go-with-the-flow and the students seemed to be that way too,” Follett said. 

Week of Welcome (WOW) new student orientation also commenced during this event—inviting students to participate virtually, and offering a multitude of activities that students joined from their rooms. While the event was initially planned to be held on campus, WOW leaders quickly adapted as the schedule evolved and the platform changed. 

WOW leader Cassandra Sánchez said the event would remain interactive and enticing for students despite the shift to a virtual venue. New activities incorporated into the schedule included a magic show, trivia, and workouts like power yoga and Zumba. 

“Being in person, I feel like it was easier to make connections honestly, but virtually it’s been cool seeing how these students are interacting, like through the chat,” Sánchez said. “[Online] does limit some of the activities that we are able to do, but it also opens up the door to the newer activities.”

Fall Term classes begin via remote access today, following a mass testing event for students. Once test results are evaluated, the university expects to resume in-person instruction. Learn more about EOU’s plans for the term at eou.edu/coronavirus. 

A new student with their room key.
WoW Leaders ready to direct traffic at Move-In Day.
Celebrating Small Business Week https://www.eou.edu/news-press/celebrating-small-business-week/ Mon, 21 Sep 2020 22:23:59 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32065 Celebrating small business 

Sept. 21, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Entrepreneurs in Union County and across the nation celebrate Small Business Week Sept. 22 to 24

The university hosts the region’s Small Business Development Center, a member of the Oregon Small Business Development Network (SBDCN) that contributes to workforce and economic development.

EOU students and employees remain tightly connected with local commerce, and the relationship is mutually beneficial. Business owners have partnered with the university to offer internships and career opportunities that bridge the gap between students and community members. 

“The small businesses in downtown La Grande, as well as our outlying communities, are trying to work together more to see ways they can support the students and recognize that having EOU, and the students here is a huge asset to the community,“ said Suzannah Moore-Hemann of the Union County Chamber of Commerce. 

Designated as Oregon’s Rural University, EOU is committed to serving as the educational, economic, and cultural engine for rural Oregon has never been stronger. Dean of the College of Business Ed Henninger has strengthened regional partnerships through curriculum development and the growing Rural Engagement and Vitality Center (The REV) to educate tomorrow’s rural workforce and leaders. 

“This week, we spotlight Oregon’s outstanding small businesses, their stories of perseverance and dedication, and their ability to overcome incomparable adversity this past year,” Henninger said. “During National Small Business Week, EOU is extremely proud to honor Eastern Oregon’s small businesses, as small businesses are job-creators that fuel our regional and state economy.”

For additional information about the EOU SBDC, visit bizcenter.org/centers/eastern-oregon-sbdc. Learn more about The REV Center at revcenter.org

Testing, virtual events mark start of EOU fall term https://www.eou.edu/news-press/testing-virtual-events-mark-start-of-eou-fall-term/ Fri, 11 Sep 2020 17:25:52 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32059 Testing, virtual events mark start of EOU fall term
MAT students meet outdoors during COVID-19

Sept. 11, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Eastern Oregon University students and employees will gather virtually for traditional back-to-school events this month. 

Employees return via videoconference for the university’s annual Convocation ceremony on Sept. 16, and incoming students will participate in virtual orientation events starting Sept. 19. 

A key element of EOU’s fall term plans is COVID-19 testing of all students returning to the La Grande campus before they attend classes in person. 

“In order to facilitate COVID-19 testing for all students on campus, all classes will be held remotely for the first week of the Fall Term, and Week of Welcome events will be held virtually,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Lacy Karpilo. “In-person classes and Week of Welcome events will return to modified operations after test results have been evaluated.”

Along with student testing, the university has instituted a set of requirements for all members of the university community. These include daily online self health checks, wearing face coverings inside all buildings, and physical distancing procedures. All students are also encouraged to take enhanced precautions or self-isolate for 14 days prior to arriving on campus, and two cloth face masks will be provided to each on-campus employee and student.

In-person classes will be held on campus until Thanksgiving and then students will complete the last week of classes and finals week remotely. Residence Halls will remain open during Winter Break, and students living on campus are encouraged to stay. 

“At this time, approximately 48% of courses will be held in-person, 17% will be hybrid, and 35% will be remote,” EOU President Tom Insko said. “College deans and faculty have worked to ensure educational quality while mitigating risk when making modality determinations. Some students may not have any in-person or hybrid courses, allowing them to consider not relocating to La Grande for Fall Term.”

Insko pointed to the university’s guiding themes for resumption of on-campus activities and classes: safety, wellness, equity, collaboration, flexibility and innovation. 

“We are actively preparing for a student-engaging academic year, consistent with our institutional mission and state public health guidelines for Oregon Higher Education,” he said. “Ultimately, our mission calls us back to campus. But, no single path or solution will meet the needs of all, so our guiding themes provide the necessary balance for effective resumption.”

All of EOU’s online courses will continue as usual, offering a wide range of degrees and courses with personalized advising and support. On-site programs and Regional Centers will follow the plans and guidelines laid out by their host sites.

Numerous modifications in campus facilities have already been implemented to ensure a safe working and learning environment, including plexiglass barriers and Insko said EOU will endeavor to accommodate needs as they arise. Some employees may continue to work remotely to protect against interruption in services. 

Meanwhile, staff have coordinated to provide student support services like tutoring, career and internship help, financial aid, and the library so students can access resources remotely and in-person with safety measures. Karpilo said student clubs, cultural events and campus life remain a central part of the EOU experience, though they may look different this fall. 

“Access, equity and affordability are at the core of EOU’s mission,” Karpilo said. “Many of our students are facing added financial hardship and dealing with the challenges of inequitable healthcare.” 

EOU plans to conduct COVID-19 screenings for all incoming residential students, student-athletes and students intending to be on campus. These tests are self-administered, gentle lower nasal swabs (RT-PCR based tests) and will be used to screen students prior to the start of the term. 

Test results will be returned within 24-72 hours. All students who have been tested will be quarantined until test results are returned. Students who test positive for COVID-19 will be immediately moved to an isolation room if on-campus or asked to isolate at their off-campus location. Students who test negative will be allowed to leave quarantine. 

Residential students will be provided with meal delivery, and the university will offer a series of virtual events and activities for all students in quarantine.

“This year will be like no other for the EOU community as we work to adapt and respond to the dynamic environment created by COVID-19,” Insko said. “Society teaches us to individually control our world and our destinies, but this pandemic reminds us how interdependent we really are—our wellness and educational achievement are inextricably linked to our shared behaviors and collective ability to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.”

Virtual Chat Rooms for students and employees continue to answer questions and provide a forum for direct communication, university leaders continue to seek input from all members of the campus community. 

Visit EOU’s Resumption Planning website or for more information about the university’s plans for fall term. 

Careful planning and planting https://www.eou.edu/news-press/careful-planning-and-planting/ Thu, 20 Aug 2020 21:45:32 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32045 Careful planning, planting keeps EOU campus growing green
David Yoder talks to people on Arbor Day

August 19, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Through careful planning and planting, Arborist David Yoder helped Eastern Oregon University become a Tree Campus USA for the first time in 2016. Then in 2019, EOU was chosen as home for one of the 45 Hiroshima Peace trees that Oregon received. 

“The Arbor Day Foundation developed Tree-City USA and then Tree-Campus USA in an effort to standardize tree care and appreciation of arbors in small cities and on campuses,” Yoder said. 

EOU has many native trees on campus, including Douglas Fir, Western Larch, Lewis and Clark Elm and various pines, but Yoder has stepped up to provide and maintain a welcoming, homey environment that goes beyond the basics. 

Yoder has worked to help EOU meet the standards set by the Arbor Day Foundation to become a Tree Campus. This program has five criteria that each campus has to meet: 1. Establishment of a campus tree advisory committee, 2. Creation of a campus tree care plan, 3. Evidence of annual expenditures, 4. Organization of an Arbor Day Observance, and 5. Service learning project. With Yoder’s guidance, EOU has met those goals for four years running. 

In 2020, the foundation changed its name to, “Tree Campus Higher Education,” though they still uphold the same core values. The program revolves around student participation, as well as careful planning, resulting in a published plan for how trees will be handled on campus. 

Annually, about 100 students help plant trees and participate in Arbor Day activities that celebrate the various species of trees flourishing at EOU. 

“This is a student-led program. Each year we’ve had student-led plantings where we bring out classes,” Yoder said. “One year we planted around the dormitories, and another year we used the range management lab course and we planted a range landstrip.”  

Peace Tree sign on campus

In addition to native trees that grow on campus, Yoder said the ginkgo biloba Hiroshima Peace Tree is also thriving. Initially he had not heard of Peace Trees. 

“It is a tree that was grown from the seed of a tree that existed in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, and we were fortunate enough to be selected as a location for the planting,” Yoder said.

As the seasons change, Yoder continues to make plans for the trees on campus. Whether that be more plantings or upkeep, he works to ensure the health of the trees on campus. 

“We do these sorts of things [Tree Campus USA] to engage administration, faculty, staff and students—to give them a broader look,” Yoder said. “A lot of times we walk through life with our heads down. We’re trying to open up the world to them and say, ‘Hey, there’s stuff out here that matters. It’s creating oxygen for us, it’s making cool places to sit in the summertime in the shade.’” 

For more information about Tree Campus USA at EOU visit eou.edu/facplan/tree-campus

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Board elects new chair https://www.eou.edu/news-press/board-elects-new-chair/ Thu, 13 Aug 2020 20:49:11 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32017 Richard Chaves elected to helm EOU governing board
Picture of Richard Chaves speaking at the 2019 Commencement Ceremony
Richard Chaves speaks at the 2019 Commencement Ceremony.

August 13, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. –  The Eastern Oregon University Board of Trustees unanimously elected Richard Chaves to serve as Chair of the Board through November 2021. Chaves, a member of the EOU governing board since its inception in 2015, is a business owner in Baker County and an alumnus of the university.

“EOU instilled in me that I had what it took to do whatever I chose to do. It taught me that rural communities have a lot of advantages,” Chaves said. “The chance to make a difference in altering the paths of young peoples’ lives, that’s what it’s all about and that’s what nourishes my soul.”

Chaves served on the EOU Foundation Board of Directors prior to joining the school’s governing board. He highlighted several priorities for his term, including an increased presence in Salem, a focus on creative problem solving, and willingness to make tough decisions and stand behind them.  

Board members met in a hybrid format, with some on-campus wearing masks and physically distant, and others participating via Zoom.

Trustees recognized retiring Board Chair David Nelson, and welcomed incoming members Karyn Gomez and Danny Bailey. Gomez, a professor in the College of Education, was appointed to serve as the faculty trustee, and Bailey, who works in the Financial Aid Office as the Scholarship Coordinator, was appointed to serve as staff trustee. New shared governance leaders for the coming academic year were also in attendance. 

Board members responded to legislative and financial updates regarding COVID-19 and its impact throughout the state. Vice President for Finance and Administration Lara Moore reported that state funding for higher education would not be affected in 2021, but the coming bienniums could bring significant challenges.

“I’m grateful we have 2021 to further prepare,” she said. “Our efforts to reduce spending since spring have been fruitful. With many employees working reduced hours, implementing a not quite hiring freeze but a hiring frost, and virtually no travel, EOU will end FY 20 with $11 million in reserve—the strongest position EOU has ever been in—which will be necessary to weather the coming storm.”

The governing board will review the university’s final budget at its regular meeting this fall. 

In addition to the pandemic, lawmakers and educators across the state have also been engaged with the worldwide movement for racial justice. EOU President Tom Insko also highlighted the university’s growing diversity of students. 

“Part of our access mission is around achieving equity,” Insko said. “The ethnically diverse student population at EOU has doubled in five years, and we’ve implemented programs that have helped shrink the academic achievement gap from 5% to less than 1% for on-campus students.”

As the start of fall term approaches, the Board was also tasked with approving the university’s proposed plans for resuming on-campus activities and classes.  

“We’re doing everything possible to have as much in-person instruction as possible this fall,” Insko said. 

Fall sports schedules have been moved to spring, a change Insko advocated for to mitigate the risk of transmitting disease. He said shifting employees to remote work where possible and halting large group activities have reduced the risk of disease. 

Students in the university’s Master of Art in Teaching program met for their two weeks of on-campus instruction with general success. Some lectures were held outdoors, and all participants and instructors wore face coverings. 

“63% of our students come from underserved communities, which are more significantly impacted by COVID-19,” Insko said. “If we don’t offer the personalized education EOU is known for, I’m concerned those students won’t continue on and complete a degree. That’s why we’re choosing this more complicated pathway: it’s about altruism. Returning to campus offers the greatest possibility to serve those who need it most.” 

Provost Sarah Witte has taken on the role of Resumption Planning Coordinator for EOU, and she led the presentation as staff members shared details and answered questions about how academic affairs, human resources, student affairs, facilities, and athletics have prepared for students and employees to return to campus. Trustees asked about specific protocols and safety measures, as well as benchmarks for each phase of resumption. 

“It’s great to see us getting beyond simple binary decisions to start exploring the complexity of this new challenge that we face,” Trustee Bill Johnson said. “This work we’ve done to date is commendable and it’s good to see the progress we’ve made.”

The university doubled the number of class sections offered for lab courses in order to ensure appropriate physical distancing. Supervisors completed risk assessments for every job on campus, and laid out expectations for employees to stay home if they or a family member is unwell. Student Affairs will serve as the hub for student concerns, responding to possible exposures and coordinating care for those in quarantine. Facilities staff are evaluating every HVAC system and installing new filters, as well as ordering masks, signage and sanitizer stations. 

“Students are coming here to achieve a goal, and it’s our responsibility to help them reach that goal with whatever tools and modalities we have available,” Witte said. 

Trustees approved the plan unanimously and concluded their Monday session. When the group reconvened Tuesday morning, they were joined via Zoom by Dr. Emily Drew who led a discussion about institutionalized racism.

Trustee Roberta Conner explained that the construct of race is a creation of Western science that now has become ingrained in society. 

“I believe we have a great deal of distance to cover,” Conner said. “Much of the institutional racism that we endure comes from attempts by those in power to convince themselves that African Americans, American Indians or indigenous peoples the world over have different sizes of craniums, different capacities for intellect, different capacities for achievement—and those constructs have resulted in the world we live in today.”

The Board plans to develop a statement on equity, rights and inclusion. Trustees created an ad hoc committee to engage with EOU’s Diversity Committee and other advocacy groups on campus in shaping this statement and how it will meaningfully advance work on this challenge.

Taking orientation to the Elkhorns https://www.eou.edu/news-press/taking-orientation-to-the-elkhorns/ Thu, 13 Aug 2020 19:06:34 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32013 Taking orientation to the Elkhorns
people paddleboarding on a mountain lake

August 13, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Excitement travels fast through the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) as new 2020 East Trackers begin to register for a trip that will create lasting memories. Incoming freshmen at Eastern Oregon University can experience an outdoor orientation away from the Eastern Oregon University campus.   

This year East Tracks is scheduled for Sept. 14 to 18. Twelve students will get to experience this five-day adventure, which includes activities like rock climbing, paddleboarding, biking and hiking around Anthony Lakes. The trip costs $125 per person, which includes food and gear supplied through the OAP. 

Michael Hatch, OAP Director, explained that some of the changes students can expect this year due to the pandemic include: precautions while preparing food, social distancing and mask wearing during activities like rock climbing. Hatch is excited that many activities will be unchanged due to their already distanced nature, like mountain biking, hiking and paddle boarding. 

East Tracks offers more than an opportunity to get outside, it also provides a place to build friendships and shape new interests. The trip is open to all levels of experience, so students can reach outside of their comfort zones in a welcoming environment.

“I think the social support network is a really huge benefit,” Hatch said. “I also see a lot of improvements in self-efficacy and self-confidence, as that some of these folks have never paddle-boarded before, they’ve never rock-climbed or mountain-biked, or they’ve never really gone camping and they start doing these activities and they start realizing, ‘I can do it.’”

An East Tracker-turned-OAP-employee, Aime Coffman, said  East Tracks 2018 gave her the opportunity to build relationships with students and faculty prior to the start classes. This helped during the first week of school when a friendly face is the only thing students want to see.  

people climbing a rock

“I met some lifelong friends and it really helped out with the first week of school just because you have those familiar faces on campus,” Coffman said. “It’s definitely something people should take the opportunity to go and do. I think you build a lot of great relationships.”

Since her East Tracks trip, Coffman became a student leader for the 2019 venture, which got her foot in the door for EOU employment and was a gateway for building relationships with potential peers and professors. 

“It’s just a place for you to dabble and stick your feet in the water, so to speak, and get a feel for the different things that are available, especially in our neck of the woods in Eastern Oregon,” Hatch said. “Student safety and health are a top priority for the OAP. We are being very diligent in how we conduct ourselves and operate this trip to prevent the spread or transmission of the virus.” 

Registration is open now and space is limited. For more information, visit eou.edu/outdoor or contact the OAP Office at 541-962-3621.   

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Cultivating community during a pandemic https://www.eou.edu/news-press/cultivating-community-during-a-pandemic/ Mon, 10 Aug 2020 23:14:28 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=32002 Cultivating community during a pandemic
students in masks jumping

August 10, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Week of Welcome provides an opportunity for incoming Eastern Oregon University students to become familiar with their peers in a fun environment that doubles as their orientation to a new school. The freshmen who attend this event get a head-start on building meaningful new relationships before they enter the classroom. 

EOU plans to hold Week of Welcome (WOW) Sept. 19 to 22. This year’s orientation is packed with fun events that prioritize the safety of students and everyone participating.  

Many of the activities are planned to take place outdoors on EOU’s main campus in La Grande. New precautions have been put in place, such as wearing face-coverings and hand sanitizer stations placed throughout the campus. 

WOW has a signature feel at EOU and that energy will not be lost during this event. Director of Student Success and Transition Kathryn Shorts, who coordinates the annual orientation week, said students can expect an engaging line-up of outdoor activities. 

“We will basically have the same large-scale events, we‘re just going to spread them out,” she said. “We’re going to take over the campus and will be outside a lot.” 

Shorts also said students will spend more time in their teams, allowing each of the 10 groups to build lasting connections with their peers, one of the event’s primary goals. Students become familiar with the campus culture and connect with staff so they can better navigate resources during the school year. 

WOW Leader Emily Gluch will mentor a group of freshmen and guide them throughout the week. Now a senior, she said WOW has been an important part of her college career.

“WOW week has impacted my college experience by networking with faculty and the president of the university,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to navigate the campus and meet new faces.”

Several new events will be introduced to accommodate the special circumstances the pandemic has brought to this year’s WOW. Shorts has added an outdoor movie night and other activities that make the most of wide-open spaces. Careful planning has taken place to make sure all students participating will be in a safe environment that puts their health first. 

“Students will still get an opportunity to make new friends on their teams and meet people at different activities,” Shorts said. “I’m just really encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone and wanting them to understand that in order to participate they’re going to have to wear a mask.” 

Registration is open now. For more information and to sign up visit eou.edu/wow

By PR Intern Emily Andrews

Board Chair David Nelson announces retirement https://www.eou.edu/news-press/board-chair-david-nelson-announces-retirement/ Tue, 04 Aug 2020 18:26:54 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=31998 Founding EOU Trustee, Board Chair announces retirement
David Nelson at Tea and Trumpets

August 4, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – After five years as Chair of the Eastern Oregon University Board of Directors, and following decades of public service, David Nelson will retire next week.

“Whether he is participating in a one-on -one friendly discussion or chairing a meeting of the EOU Trustee Board, David is respectful, caring and attentive,” Trustee Richard Chaves said of Nelson. “He has the ability to work through sensitive discussions and situations, bringing them gracefully to resolution. I am honored to know David and call him friend.”

Nelson was appointed to be a founding member of EOU’s independent governing board when it was established in 2015. He said he’s proud of what the fledgling board has achieved in such a short time.

“We were in a very difficult situation when the board came on—no reserve funds, essentially on probation from the state commission, looking for a president,” he said. “Now in five years, we’ve got new full-time deans, pay and benefits have improved across campus, there are new programs coming on.”

After 16 years in the state legislature, Nelson came to the role equipped with experience in building consensus and presiding in public meetings. His familiarity with the capitol and far-reaching connections with Eastern Oregon communities added to Nelson’s natural affinity for leadership.

“It’s all about developing relationships, listening, being transparent and looking for common ground,” he said. “You have to be able to respond to human emotions and strong feelings.”

Nelson has a law degree from the University of Montana, and spent years as a rural lawyer. He said each trustee brought an impressive set of life and career experiences, as well as formal education. 

“We’re a very well-rounded board, and we didn’t always agree, but I think we came together to make good decisions,” he said. “When you’ve got a 15-person board and different perspectives, the chair’s job is to bring everybody together.”

When the university passed its accreditation evaluation in 2018, Nelson felt like EOU was going in the right direction. 

Originally from Pendleton, Nelson sees the benefits in more local representation in the university’s governing board. He said programs like the Rural Engagement and Vitality (REV) Center are key to unlocking EOU’s potential to serve the entire region.

“In an economic downturn, the people who keep their jobs are those with a higher education,” Nelson said. “It’s a competitive world now, even for higher education—our funding is based on outcomes. We should be recognizing higher education as the key component to a person’s successful, happy life.” 

As EOU anticipates resuming on-campus activities this fall, Nelson reflected on the university’s long history of delivering courses remotely and its nimbleness as a smaller institution to adapt to changing requirements.

Board meeting with David Nelson

“We’re well-positioned to anticipate some really major changes,” he said. “We’ve got an excellent faculty in place, who have adjusted to this COVID environment and online instruction.”

Trustees will elect a new board chair to lead them through an unprecedented fall term at the board’s sixth annual retreat on August 10. Other business on the agenda includes approval of EOU’s Resumption Plan, a discussion of the board’s role in countering institutionalized racism, and a welcome of new staff and faculty trustees. The full agenda is posted at eou.edu/governance/board-meeting-schedule.

After his esteemed tenure in public service, Nelson, now 79, will spend this fall working on a novel based on his experiences as a Montana County Prosecutor in the 1970s. 

“In the legislature, you’re never quite sure if you’re successful, but in the university you see things grow and change every year,” he said. “Serving on the board was a worthwhile endeavor, on par with serving in the legislature. Thank you to the community for allowing me to serve and giving me this great opportunity.”

The board retreat will be held in a hybrid format with some trustees attending on campus and others participating via Zoom. Members of the public can watch the meeting via livestream at livestream.com/eou/governance

Written comments to the board will be accepted through Thursday, August 6. Visit eou.edu/governance/board-meeting-schedule or contact Ella Maloy at emaloy@eou.edu or 541-962-4101 to submit a public comment.

Additional statements from Trustees:

“I have learned much by listening to and observing David’s style of leadership. He’s also become a very good friend who I will greatly miss when he steps down from the Board. He makes sure that all opinions are voiced, but is also perceptive when a speaker tends to monopolize, ‘get into the weeds,’ or speak on a personal agenda, rather than on what’s best for the University. He was the best choice for our first Board Chair, and I hope he leaves with a great sense of pride and accomplishment.” — Dixie Lund

“David and I have known each other and worked together on many things regarding education since I was a superintendent and he was in the legislature. I have such great admiration for him and how he preserves the dignity of people while moving to a sometimes tough solution. David Nelson is like the North Star to sailors: he is always there, always a guidepost to the right direction, always can be counted on, and is a very bright spot in an often vast and dark world.” — Jer Pratton

“I have come to love and admire David, not only as a leader of our board, but also his character, his values, his manner, his self-control, and his warmth. I haven’t ever seen him lose his cool, even in real times of adversity. He always has a welcoming smile and an encompassing personality. I felt complete peace in knowing that he would carry this board and the university in the right direction. We will miss him dreadfully, and I wish him a very happy and blessed future.”  — Cheryl Martin

“David provided outstanding leadership skills that are best summarized by the Chinese strategist Lao Tsu (circa 500 BCE), ‘The master does not talk, he acts. When his work is done, the people say, Amazing: we did it, all by ourselves.’” — Gary Keller

Thousands awarded to students amid pandemic https://www.eou.edu/news-press/thousands-awarded-to-students-amid-pandemic/ Tue, 28 Jul 2020 16:28:26 +0000 https://www.eou.edu/?p=31992 Foundation, university cooperate to support students amid pandemic
Financial Aid Director Sandy Henry counsels a student in her office in 2018. Since the pandemic began, counselling appointments have taken place remotely.

July 28, 2020 LA GRANDE, Ore. – By the end of June, Eastern Oregon University had awarded $307,745 from the federal CARES Act to support on-campus students as they adapted to remote learning for spring term. 

The university received $579,164 from the federal government to be disbursed directly to on-campus students to cover housing, food, healthcare, child care or unpaid unemployment benefits.  

As of June 30, 282 EOU students have received funding through the CARES Act in order to stay enrolled and on track to complete their degrees. The university’s Financial Aid Office planned ahead to ensure it would be able to continue distributing funds throughout the upcoming academic year as needed. 

In order to be eligible, students must be registered for EOU classes and have submitted a Federal Application for Financial Student Aid form (FAFSA). The legislation also requires that students be attending on-campus classes and that funds are not directly used for tuition costs.

Students who didn’t meet the criteria for federal CARES Act funding received support through the EOU Foundation’s Student Crisis Fund. When the pandemic hit this spring, EOU alumni and donors raised over $16,000 in a matter of weeks to help students stay in school. 

Australian student Samantha Blake lives in Baker City, and didn’t qualify for CARES Act support because she attends classes online. When her husband lost his job with the pandemic and unemployment payments were stalled, she turned to EOU to cover phone and internet costs. Private funds through the EOU Foundation kept her on track to graduate in June 2021.

“The Financial Aid Office told me about the help available,” she said. “We were so far behind on bills it was scary. For someone who didn’t qualify for assistance through other channels, I was so lucky [EOU Foundation donors] were willing to be generous. I’m so grateful for EOU and the donors that give us all support.”

More than $6,000 was distributed in spring term, and the EOU Foundation continues to assist students in need. In addition to the Student Crisis Fund, the Foundation provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships every year. Eligibility requirements vary, but students can apply for over 100 scholarships by submitting one application, which opens Oct. 1. 

Browse the list of EOU Foundation scholarships, or learn how to donate to the Student Crisis Fund at eou.edu/foundation