Editorial: A memorable semester

Our View


Final exams begin today and an event filled fall semester has come to a conclusion with much for us to look back upon.


When you reflect, you should remember the election of Barack Obama, a few unfortunate deaths, and many construction decisions.

History, deaths, resolutions and accidents consumed the fall semester at Eastern.

Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. Eastern students were the main reason Coles County voted Democratic. Eastern students also got to share in the joy on Election Night when a crowd of more than 300 students celebrated in the South Quad, chanting “Obama! Obama!” after he was projected to be the president-elect.

With good news also comes bad news.

English professor Graham Lewis died this semester at the age of 46. He was a first year freshman composition sequence professor and a creative writer. Eastern’s first provost, Peter Richard Moody, also died right before the beginning of fall semester along with an incoming student Dennis Roden.

Kevin Duckworth, one of Eastern’s few NBA players, also died this semester. Duckworth, the former Eastern and Portland Trail Blazer center, died in Gleneden Beach, Ore., at the age of 44. He played for the Panthers from 1983-86, led Eastern to the 1984-85 Mid-Continent Conference Tournament Championship and was the 1986 MCC Tournament Most Valuable Player. Duckworth started at center for the Trail Blazers in the late 1980s and early 1990s and was a Western Conference All-Star in 1989 and 1991.

Eastern also said goodbye to former head wrestling coach Ron Clinton. In Clinton’s time at Eastern, the Panthers’ wrestling team was Division II national runners-up in 1979 and 1981.

Clinton coached six individual NCAA Division II champions and 45 All-Americans. Clinton was an NCAA Division I champion himself as a wrestler at Oklahoma State in 1962 and was also an Olympic alternate for the 1964 Olympics.

The semester came with resolutions to on-going topics of discussion.

Parking issues were resolved, the foreign language requirements stayed the same and the Electronic Writing Portfolio was implemented without having its components completed.

Two changes have been made to the EWP – papers can now be submitted electronically and a remedial portion was added.

Submitting papers online and changing the guidelines so that pieces could be from any course as long as it is at least 750 words long was a way to make the EWP more student-friendly.

It definitely was about time changes were made to the EWP to benefit students, but the remedial portion seems to be adding another headache.

The university also approved funding for a new textbook rental facility.

The university also celebrated the rededication of the Doudna Fine Arts Center. Since then, numerous acts have performed inside the building, including Mavis Staples, Second City and numerous student productions.

The building is now officially open, and we’re glad to see seven years of anticipation and nearly $100 million was worth every penny.

But Doudna was not completely perfect. On Nov. 19, two students were injured when the organ chamber door in the Dvorak Concert Hall fell on them, causing the hall to be closed temporarily. The students were rehearsing for the EIU Symphony Orchestra when the copper and wood door fell.

Student Patrick Rheingruber injured his left hand and student Trent Mason lost a tooth and chipped two other teeth because of the accident. Luckily, the injuries were minor and since then, the Illinois Capital Development Board concluded its inspection of the hall and approved its reopening.

The trial of Mark Bonnstetter concluded this semester as well. Bonnstetter was found not guilty in October on all three charges related to an incident involving a former neighbor during the early morning of Nov. 25, 2006.

Bonnstetter, the associate athletic director of operations and head athletic trainer at Eastern, was charged with criminal trespass to a residence, a class 4 felony; residential burglary, a class 1 felony; and attempted criminal sexual abuse, a class A misdemeanor.

We’re glad to see this issue was finally resolved.

The economy’s struggles have also affected Eastern.

The receding economy appears to be the reason why Eastern decided to put its Renewable Energy Center project on hold.

President Bill Perry released a statement earlier this semester explaining why the $40 million project was put on hold.

“During the development of the project, an unforeseen factor, the current economic downturn, has adversely affected the feasibility of the project,” Perry said in the statement. “Specifically, credit markets have in the past few weeks considerably tightened.”

The center would have replaced the steam plant, which was built around 1925.

Construction for the center, which was derived from Eastern’s energy audit that revealed $80 million in energy savings, was slated for the spring semester. The center was supposed to commission in Fall 2010.

It was a loaded first semester, but it will be another interesting spring semester. Good luck on finals and good luck to those who are graduating.