Documentary about life at Eastern to premiere Thursday

Analicia Haynes , Editor-in-Chief

EIU: This Is Who We Are, a documentary about Eastern told by people who have a connection to the university, will premiere at 7 p.m. Thursday on WEIU-TV and will stream online at

Twenty-six storytellers will share stories about Eastern as well as their experience at the university and what it means to them.

Storytellers include alumni, faculty members and employees such as Lou Hencken, Eastern’s ninth president from 2001 to 2007; former Illinois governor Jim Edgar; Mark Hudson, the director of housing and dining; and admissions counselor Omar Solomon.

The purpose of the documentary is to tell the story of Eastern through the words of the storytellers.

“They are a part of Eastern’s rich history and have played a part in the shared love we all feel for this university,” according to the EIU: This Is Who We Are Facebook page.

On April 4, WEIU hosted a red carpet premiere for the documentary and invited the storytellers to see the film for the first time.

After the showing, Hencken said there was a common theme that accompanied the night, and people can expect to see it in the documentary.

He said it was about how much people loved Eastern and how much Eastern has changed people for the better.

He said when he was president, there were three days that he loved. The first was the opening of the residence halls when the new students came, the second was commencement when the students left and the third was homecoming because he loved the stories that people told when they returned to campus.

“I think that when you go out and when you become successful, it’s going to be because of what you learned from Eastern and also the fact that you had this opportunity to do things, and that’s what I saw (at the red carpet premiere),” he said. “The one common thing is we are grateful for Eastern because of what we learned here; we’ve had a great life, and a lot of it you can attribute to our experience at Eastern Illinois University.”

Dave Kidwell, the longest tenured athletic employees in Eastern history, also talked about the documentary and what Eastern has done for him.

Kidwell was the former sports information director and later the assistant athletic director from 1972 until his first retirement in 2006. Then, he returned to serve as the assistant athletic director for special projects in 2006 until 2016 when he retired for the second time.

Kidwell was also inducted into the EIU Hall of Fame and was also a former editor-in-chief of The Daily Eastern News.

“I came off a farm in Southern Illinois, (I) hadn’t done much in high school, wasn’t sure if I could make it here or anywhere,” Kidwell said referring to his decision to come to Eastern.

He said when he came to Eastern, he found The Daily Eastern News, and that is where he found his confidence.

“I found friends, found a home, found a pocket on campus, and I really fell in love with the place because of the Eastern news and the people and my friends that I worked with and because of that it gave me some confidence that I could make it in this world,” he said.

Kidwell said he owes it to Eastern because he was able to get a job and hold a job and be “somewhat successful.”

“The Eastern news … that’s what did it for me … if it hadn’t have been for the Eastern news I would have been selling pencils on the corner some place,” Kidwell said.

Hencken said he and Kidwell spent their entire careers in higher education with a goal to try and develop people to go out and become successful by giving them the best education they could.

He said therefore when they see something like the documentary, they cannot help but think that they had some part in the success and development of Eastern and in the experiences that people encountered as a result.

“I had something to do with this, you look at the library and I had something to do with that I really did,” Hencken said. “When you see things like (the documentary) it’s all worth it. When you realize that that is what we did, is all worth it.”

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].