Students interview first presidential candidate Jay Gatrell


Ashanti Thomas

Jay Gatrell, the current provost for EIU and candidate to be the next president, introduces himself and answers various questions from a full room of students in the Arcola-Tuscola room of Martin Luther King Jr. University Union Tuesday afternoon.

Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor

Jay Gatrell, one of four final presidential candidate for Eastern, had his student interview on Tuesday.

Gatrell is one of the last four candidates chosen to be president of Eastern after current University President David Glassman retires at the end of June.

The interview took place in the Arcola/Tuscola Room in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union at 3 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.

Gatrell previously served as vice provost at Bellarmine University. Gatrell also spent over 13 years at Indiana State University in multiple positions including graduate dean and associate dean.

Gatrell currently serves as the provost and executive vice president for academic affairs for Eastern. Gatrell has hopes of shifting the academic programs at Eastern to be more student focused, including launch of accelerated graduate programs. To achieve this, Gatrell has encouraged other faculty members and deans.

On Gatrell’s letter of interest, it stated that students getting involved into clubs outside of the classroom is very important. During the interview, Gatrell went more in depth as to what can be done to allow students to get more involved.

Gatrell related the connection between the students, professors and teachers. Gatrell said that teachers should be motivating their students to get their involved.

The relationship between students being motivated to do well in school syncs with them wanting to get involved, Gatrell said. Getting them involved can allow them to be more successful in the future, while also gaining experience during their time in college.

Gatrell also expressed the importance of being able to get involved in things that they are not familiar with, such as studying abroad.

“For me, student involvement is critical because it connects people,” Gatrell said. “If you have a successful life outside of the class, you’re going to show up to that class, you’re going to thrive, you’re going to graduate, and you’re going to make a difference.”

Anything that allows students to get involved seemed to be Gatrell’s focus point and by joining them, it will allow them to be prosperous future. The teachers and professors are the root of this motivation.

The topic of mental health was brought into discussion, and how students can be shown that the university cares about their mental well-being.

Gatrell said that everyone, including faculty and staff, should use the resources that are available on campus. Mental health awareness has increased over the past few years.

Gatrell said there is work being put in to create more opportunities so students can be more relaxed and have the resources necessary.

Gatrell said that the state of Illinois, at the general assembly, is in a veto session currently. Supplemental allocation is going to be given in order to expand the mental health resources on campus.

Additionally, the civil service workers were brought into question. Their salaries were a concern in August 2021, and they were threatening strike because they were unhappy with their pay.

Gatrell said to solve this issue, there would have to be strategic planning. Gatrell said one of the first things that could be done is to have a conversation about current practices.

Gatrell also said that a conversation about “new framework for understanding desk audits, position descriptions” can be had to make sure there is equitable pay.

“But also, we need to innovate,” Gatrell said. “Part of the ways in which we can address the broader issue of recognizing and valuing the work of all employees is to make sure the work we’re doing is important every day. It’s efficient, it’s effective, and so compensation is a piece of that. Understand that the contribution of every employee matters, as well as having a broader scale campus wide.”


Cam’ron Hardy can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].