Combs joins Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday, discusses city updates

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern Faculty Senate held its first meeting of the semester Tuesday and hosted Charleston Mayor Brandon Combs for much of the meeting.

Before Combs joined the meeting, Provost Jay Gatrell gave his Provost Report to the senate, in which he discussed COVID-19 surveillance testing, which is now available on campus.

Eastern recently began using rapid saliva tests from SHIELD Illinois.

“I’m pleased to announce that SHIELD testing has indeed begun on our campus,” Gatrell said.

Gatrell also gave a preview to enrollment numbers for this semester.

“We’re not at the 10th day and I don’t want to steal anyone’s sort of thunder, but the initial indicators for this spring are, as of this morning, incredibly strong,” he said.

Another update given by Gatrell was in regards to the CARES Act, which will be providing the university with more funds to deal with COVID-related expenses and provide more student aid.

Combs joined the meeting about 45 minutes after it began and spoke with the senators about projects in Charleston and the relationship between Charleston and the university, among other things.

Combs was originally going to submit a recorded response to questions asked by the senate, but was able to join the meeting live on Zoom instead.

Combs said that it is one of his main responsibilities to make sure that Eastern and its students have a smooth relationship with the rest of Charleston.

“Both the community and the university itself is more diverse than it’s ever been, and I love the fact that the university brings this kind of diversity into our community,” Combs said. “When I first met with Dr. Glassman, when he was first president and I was first mayor, we talked ‘How are we going to turn this around? What can we do?’”

Combs said that he sometimes tries to explain to people that Eastern and Charleston depend on each other greatly as well.

“We have to welcome (students) because they’re going to be living here for nine months and they are so vital to our community, that without them we would literally be just a small farm town,” he said.

The senate also discussed updates to a Think Tank committee proposal and the EIU Open Access Policy, which will be discussed more in future meetings.

Additionally, the senate welcomed two new senators for the meeting. They are Will Porter from the College of Music and Amy Davis from the College of Education.

Faculty Senate will meet again on Feb. 9.


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]