Board recognizes outgoing trustees
EOU Board of Trustees recognizes outgoing trustees, discusses rural engagement
May 24, 2018 La Grande, Ore. — Eastern Oregon University’s Board of Trustees recognized its first outgoing members at its final meeting of the academic year on May 24. Board Chair David Nelson thanked Holly Kerfoot, Nicole Almanza and Linda Reed-Jerofke for their service and presented framed certificates during the board meeting on campus.
“We’re a volunteer board,” Nelson said. “Your time and dedication to furthering th
e mission and the work of EOU means so much.”
Student and faculty representatives Almanza and Reed-Jerofke, respectively, serve two-year terms while regular board members are appointed for four years. The governor appointed sophomore Chemistry-Biochemistry major Quentin Durfee and business professor Gary Keller to fill the vacancies. Susan Corey, a Pendleton resident with a long-term commitment to EOU, will join the board in Kerfoot’s place.
“I’ve learned a lot,” said Almanza, a current Physical Activity & Health student at EOU. “It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I wish the best for the next student.”
Future students remained a topic of discussion as trustees explored the impact of the Rural Engagement and Vitality (REV) Center. The REV Center will serve as an umbrella entity that coordinates existing and new programs linking EOU students and resources to regional partners.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Research Technologies (CHART) labs, established by anthropology professor Rory Becker, is one such program. Students in the program travel across the country and world to use unique and advanced technologies in field research, and their work is funded through grants.
“So far, we’ve done more than $400,000 worth of projects,” Becker said. “And we’re getting students out into the field to learn the business of archeology while earning credit and sometimes getting paid.”
More recently, Governor Kate Brown designated the Urban-Rural Ambassador Institute an Oregon Solutions project, increasing the new program’s visibility across the state. Academic deans Peter Geissinger and Nathan Lowe worked with Portland State University to establish this partnership that invites students from PSU and EOU to switch places for a brief time as they study the issues urban and rural communities face.
“We’ve set it up as a six-credit, research-focused, upper division elective course,” Lowe said. “It’s all about these project-based experiences to get students out into the region.”
President Tom Insko said the REV Center, designed to revitalize rural places and facilitate experiential learning, seeks to promote these and similar programs at EOU.
“We’re already doing the work and these opportunities continue to arise,” Insko said. “But we need a staff person to cultivate the relationships and think strategically about this.”
He said additional resources will allow the REV Center to develop into a hub for internships and service projects that encourage students to work on existing challenges while developing a talent pipeline for future vitality.
Athletics teams regularly engage families and community members with EOU, and Assistant Athletic Director Stephanie Upshaw provided deeper insight to the division’s goals and strategies to support student-athletes.
Upshaw said the division’s focus on academic success and holistic care underlie its competitive edge. She walked through the division’s strategic plan and its objectives for classroom performance and community service.
“This exemplifies what I call a scholar-athlete,” Trustee Jer Pratton said. “I’m proud that the division has taken these steps to send the right message for our students and for the whole institution.”
Trustees also approved next year’s budget, reviewed brand messaging and discussed takeaways from a trusteeship conference several board members attended last month.
“I’m a better board member for going,” Trustee Richard Chaves said. “A lot of the challenges we’re facing are the same that universities have across the country and world.”
The board plans to begin incorporating some of the new practices when it reconvenes July 31 in Wallowa County for its annual retreat.
“There were a lot of ‘wow’ moments throughout the workshops,” Trustee Dixie Lund said. “We want to carry some of that ‘wow’ into our processes going forward.”