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

Gatrell’s plan to improve the University

President Jay Gatrell presents the presidential distinguished service award to Office Administrator Julia Awalt at Doudna Fine Arts Center Concourse fall update Wednesday morning. (Cam’ron Hardy)

President Jay Gatrell hosted a presentation about the intentions of the improvement of the University.

Meeting at 8 a.m. and beginning at roughly 8:30 a.m. at the Dvorak Concert Hall in the Doudna Fine Arts Center, Gatrell introduced what he calls “Plan 2028,” which is described as “EIU’s five-year blueprint for sustained success,” according to Eastern’s website description.

Gatrell stated that there are four “themes” that encapsulate the goals of the University; achieve, engage, create and resource.

Theme one, achieve, can be condensed into being the goal for all students to achieve success.

Eastern received a one-time supplement of $500,000 from the state of Illinois to help achieve activities, Gatrell said.

The intention of the supplement is to “fund equity-based student success initiatives, including EIU freshman and transfer connection programs, as well as academic hubs,” Gatrell said.

Additionally, there were three hubs created last year intended to support Latin-X, African American and Asian American students, and Eastern is planning to launch a family academic hub in Booth Library to support student parents.

Work is also being done to grow active learning spaces across campus.

Gatrell also said, “EIU’s commitment with our UPI partners will translate this year into an additional $75,000 to support student research and study abroad this year, and our research and study abroad offices are working with faculty committees to distribute these monies for the current year.”

Kicking off the second theme of engage, Eastern is co-launching a community project titled, “The University Community Collaborative,” which is going to be intended to address issues such as transportation and economic development.

“We will be updating our economic impact study to demonstrate to legislators and the community the many important contributions EIU makes to Charleston and the state,” Gatrell said.

Gatrell said the work should be complete by early next spring.

Beginning Oct. 1, Eastern will offer a community service leave benefit. It allows employees to have one paid day of service leave of seven and a half hours per fiscal year to participate in an on-campus community project, with supervisor approval.

Gatrell and Vice President Anne Flaherty launched a fraternity and sorority life task force. Its purpose is to get students involved and revive student engagement with Greek life on campus.

The task force is composed of Eastern alumni volunteers and student leaders.

Task force chair, Jody Stone will announce their work with the campus next semester.

Starting the third theme, create, Gatrell said there will be investments made in the relaunch senior diversity and inclusion officer search.

Gatrell said Ryan Hendrickson, the interim provost, identified about $20,000 in one-time funds to increase and professional development for faculty to the faculty development and innovation center.

Gatrell also said he would “authorize the transfer of $75,000 from the Office of the President’s gift account to be distributed across the college and Booth Library to support tenured and tenure track faculty registration for use at national and international conferences.”

Eligible non negotiated employees will receive a 3 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1 and non-eligible or eligible non negotiated employees with fiscal year annual salaries of less than $50,000 will receive a 3.5 salary increase, according to Gatrell. Increases will be made based on their June 30 salary.

“The university will provide new memberships for up to 100 full time employees to participate in the College of Health and Human Services Adult Fitness Program, who enrolled prior to December 1 2023,” Gatrell said. “Additionally, the university will also cover the renewal fees for all employees who are currently enrolled.”

A fitness group will begin Oct. 9 for the entire campus, which will be free and take place during the lunch hour for free. Classes will be on Monday and Friday.

Effective next summer and upon the suggestion of staff senate, the summer schedule will be standardized even during holiday weeks with half day Fridays for most employee groups. From this year forward.

Starting this year, non-state holiday days between Christmas and New Year’s will be codified as gift days.

Affective today, Gatrell worked with the Vice President of Business Affairs, Matt Bierman and Director of Human Resources, Linda Holloway, to approve a parental leave policy. The policy will allow 20 leave days for eligible full time, non-negotiated civil service and Unit A and B employees, that ensures the employees have access to combine sick, vacation and parental leave days.

“I’m pleased finally to announce the university advancement is beginning the process of planning for a comprehensive fundraising complaint campaign and we’ll be launching a feasibility study this semester with the goal of initiating a silent phase in the not-too-distant future,” Gatrell said.

The meeting was followed with winners of the Presidential Distinguished Service Awards.

The winners were:
– Julia Awalt, Office Administrator of Housing and Dining,
– Nate Brown, Building Service Foreman, Facilities Planning and Management,
– Becky Shew, Support Manager, Information Technology Services,
– Heidi Larson, Professor of Counseling and Higher Education,
– And Christy Kilgore, Director of Marketing and Communications.


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

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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. 

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