‘It feels very sad’: Glassman gives his last State of the University Address

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Rob Le Cates

Eastern University President David Glassman stands and waves to the crowd after finishing his last State of the University Address of his presidency term Thursday afternoon in the Dvorak Concert Hall. Towards the end of his speech, he started to get emotional reminiscing his time at Eastern.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

University President David Glassman gave his last State of the University Address on Thursday before his retirement at the end of June.

A year ago, Glassman announced his decision to retire at the end of the fiscal year 2023 at the fiscal year 2022 State of the University Address. Now, he gave his last address with emotion as the reality of retirement approaches.

“Right now it feels very sad,” Glassman said. “It’s the right time for me to retire, but it’s just sad thinking about this being the last time I’ll deliver a State of the University Address. Almost every event that I’m going to now it’s the last time, and so it’s kind of a reality shock. And when you announce that you’re going to retire over a year in advance; it’s so far away. And now it just keeps coming closer.”

During the address, Glassman reflected on his years at Eastern.

“This will be my last State of the University Address as president of Eastern Illinois University,” Glassman said. “I want to thank everyone for your friendship and support over these last seven years. Together, we made positive change in our beloved university, and we are absolutely marching forward on that pathway to success. Although my presidency came with some very unexpected and very unprecedented challenges, my choice to lead our university will always remain the highlight of my 43 years in higher education.”

During the address, Glassman awarded five Eastern faculty and staff members with the 2022 Presidential Distinguished Service Awards.

The first award went to a building service worker, Debra Buell.

“The first awardee is a building service worker who takes deep pride in her work, always going the extra mile to keep her building clean,” Glassman said. “A nominator commented ‘she does her very best, and it shows. She always comes in with a great attitude that puts a smile on your face, and she creates personal connections with the people not just in our office but in the entire building.’”

The second award was given to Sandra King, a graphic designer and photographer for the intercollegiate athletics department.

“The second awardee can be seen day and night capturing the excitement and accomplishments of our student-athletes,” Glassman said. “She’s well known for her welcoming smile and kindness. One nominator put it simply, ‘She is the best example of school spirit, sacrificial friendship, and general ‘positive attitude’ found anywhere on campus. And there are a lot of nice people here.’”

The third award went to Evan Kubicek, an instructor of the School of Business.

“One of the nominators of this next awardee comments that he is deserving of this award for all the things he does inside and outside the classroom on behalf of EIU,” Glassman said. “He’s involved in student recruitment, RSO advising, serves on numerous committees, and works as an innovation coach, demonstrating his commitment to service every day.”

The fourth award was given to Jody Stone, the senior associate director of housing and dining.

“The nominators of our fourth awardee commented that he does tremendous work leading his team,” Glassman said. “You will always find him problem solving. He can take difficult issues, sometimes pushed by difficult personalities, and find a solution. During the pandemic, he worked to provide 24/7 coverage for making arrangements for students requiring quarantine or isolation housing.”

The fifth and final award was given to Jenny Stout, the financial aid associate director.

“Our final awardee has been described as ‘personifying all that we at EIU work towards and hold dear. She is a selfless and dedicated person. Her knowledge and abilities have no bounds, nor does her dedication to work, and those she works with and for. Her continued support for our department has been tremendous over the years, as she continues to play a vital role in our success. There is absolutely no one more deserving,’” Glassman said.

Glassman spoke about facing the financial struggles of Eastern.

“By the time I joined EIU in 2015, EIU’s annual expenses had been exceeding our revenues, and we were using cash reserves, which were diminishing rapidly, to balance our income budget,” Glassman said. “It was imperative that major changes occur to reduce our spending immediately including the reduction of university employees to reflect the large revenue losses from the reduction in enrollment and from the state’s reduced appropriations.”

Glassman referenced the ongoing University Professionals of Illinois union at Eastern, EIU-UPI, current negotiations for a new contract with the university.

“I realize many of you are frustrated by our institution’s fiscally conservative philosophy held by the administration, and that salary increases provided in recent past years have not met your hope or expectation,” Glassman said. “However, our pathway to success and sustainability has been, and continues to be, dependent upon our commitment to that conservative philosophy. I can assure you we will do our very best to provide salary increases to all our negotiated and non-negotiated employees at the highest level possible that will not put our university in financial jeopardy now or in the future.”

Glassman listed his four main goals for the fiscal year 2023, which “will be taking place on campus simultaneously that will help define our goals and chart our course.”

“Firstly, we will continue our work implementing EIU’s [Higher Learning Commission] quality initiative project of diversifying Eastern’s faculty and staff, including the hiring of a senior [Diversity, Equity and Inclusion] officer,” Glassman said. “Secondly, we’ve begun preparing for our decennial HLC reaccreditation. Thirdly, we will be creating our new 2023-2028 EIU Strategic Plan. And lastly, the university community will be identifying its next president.”

Creating and hiring a senior diversity, equity and inclusion, DEI, officer was a goal Glassman began last year with little success.

“I had really hoped at this time to be introducing another individual who would be joining us this fall, but unfortunately our first search for a senior diversity, equity, and inclusion officer was unsuccessful,” Glassman said. “I view this position as critical to our university’s commitment to DEI and our Higher Learning Commission Quality Initiative. I have reactivated the search committee and will begin advertising the position shortly. I am confident we will have a senior DEI officer at EIU before the end of the academic year. In the meantime, I will continue to rely on the excellent guidance from members of the president’s advisory committee for DEI issues and activities.”

Glassman said Eastern having a senior DEI officer is important to him and for Eastern.

“The search for a senior diversity equity inclusion officer is something that’s very important to me, and I want to make sure that that’s successfully completed before I leave,” Glassman said.

Glassman said the first steps for the strategic planning process is a task force, which began last spring semester.

“The first steps of the university’s next strategic planning process began last spring with the appointment of a Task Force comprising 17 faculty and staff members representing various units and departments across campus,” Glassman said. “The Task Force has met several times, both virtually and in person, to coordinate with stakeholders inside and outside the university to identify our top-level mission-centered values.”

A strategic planning website has also been created for Eastern students, employees and community members to be able to see the ongoing process. 

On the new website is also a survey to collect feedback from students and employees.

There are also two town halls planned for Oct. 18 at 3:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall within the Doudna Fine Arts Center and on Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. in the Physical Sciences building in the Phipps Auditorium on campus to hear from students and employees at Eastern.

 

Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]