The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

First week of school for President Gatrell

Ashanti Thomas
In his Old Main office, University President Jay Gatrell said his goals for the school year are to have employees and students be successful and reach their goals. “Creating a culture of care for our students and creating a culture of care for our employees.”

Beginning his day at around 6:05 a.m. with Starbucks, followed by entering his office around 6:15 and 6:30 to check both of his email accounts, Eastern’s President Jay Gatrell looks forward to getting to work.

He looks through his email to see if students have any issues that he can solve. He said that a lot of things pop up in his email regarding problems that students have including troubles with classes or financial aid verification.

Gatrell then begins looking at his second email to read reports and data.

“I read the data in the morning about enrollment applications, and so on, so I get all that done somewhere about 6:57 a.m.,” Gatrell said.

The former provost and vice president of academic affairs was announced as president on Feb. 3.

Gatrell has been going around campus the first week and getting to know the students more.

Compared to other 4-year institutions, Eastern is on the smaller side. Gatrell said Eastern is a great place for getting to know each other.

“A place like Eastern does relationships extraordinarily, extraordinarily well, and my hope is that we all get it right and we’d spend the time to pay attention, and I think we all value that, that’s what makes this place special,” Gatrell said.

There was an alumni legacy luncheon in Doudna Fine Arts Center on Aug. 17 which Gatrell attended.

He also attended Welcome Weekend to get to know Eastern’s students and parents.

Freshman students were mandated to volunteer during their first weekend on campus. Students had the option to make blankets, paint the light posts around downtown Charleston or be involved in other activities.

“It’s just so great seeing students give back to the community,” Gatrell said.

Along with meeting the students at events, Gatrell said he has scheduled presidential office hours at the bridge at the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union. He hopes that students just come in and address any concerns that they may have or just to have a conversation with him.

Gatrell said he is looking forward to some of the programming that Eastern is going to provide for students.

He also has an interest in Greek life.

Celebrating different types of organizations brings the community together. The events are exciting to Gatrell.

“All we’ve done is take students who are passionate about this place, and their friends and their teammates, and put them in one place,” Gatrell said. “We put them all in one place and that energy is exciting and that’s really [what] I think captures the passion of the faculty and staff and students and our entire leadership team for what we do here at Eastern.”

Gatrell also spoke about some of the goals that he had for the school year.

In general, he said he wants to ensure the success of students.

“I think my objectives are to make sure that students understand that this is a place where they can be successful,” Gatrell said. “Where they can belong, where they can be comfortable and create a community for themselves and to support one another.”

Gatrell also spoke about ‘Plan 2028.’

While vague about it at the moment, Gatrell said it is going to launch at a public session on Sep. 27.

He said it was a strategic plan that was approved by the Board of Trustees.

“We’re going to introduce that to the campus community and there’ll be a number of initiatives so I really want to focus on advancing our strategic plan at the sort of macro level, but also creating a culture for employees and students so they can be successful, that they can reach their goals, and that’s really what plan 2028 is about,” Gatrell said.

Another plan that Gatrell has for the school year is starting a national search for a new provost.

“I’m excited about moving forward with the capital campaign in the future,” Gatrell said. “We’re in the exploratory phase right now around.”

Gatrell said he is looking for an “outstanding” provost. He expects the next provost to embrace the same values that he shares.

He also said that the next provost understands the type of university that Eastern is.

“[I want them] to understand the type of institution a rural, regional [and] comprehensive university like Eastern is, but also complement sort of all the members of the leadership team [like] Dr. Anne Flaherty, Matt Bierman, Josh Norman, Katie Anselment” Gatrell said.

“The next provost has to be focused on the mission and be committed to this place and understand sort of the challenges but also the opportunities of being at a human scale institution, like Eastern,” Gatrell said.

Gatrell is just looking forward to making Eastern a better space and community for students.

“I’m just grateful to have this opportunity,” Gatrell said. “I’m grateful for our outstanding faculty, I’m grateful for our staff, the students, our graduate assistants who are working in labs, you know. I just am grateful that a lot of folks come here every day to make a difference. And in that, they make a difference.


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


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About the Contributors
Cam'ron Hardy
Cam'ron Hardy, News Editor
Cam'ron is a junior journalism major. He previously served news editor and campus editor at The News. 
Ashanti Thomas
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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