Eastern Oregon University > President's Message > From the President – February 28, 2024

From the President – February 28, 2024

Dear EOU Community:

I’m having a lot of thoughts about us and what our future could look like if we had some time and space to dream. 

One positive sign I’m very proud of is our growth in retention of students. As I shared at the University Updates last week, retention is up. That is an enrollment driver and a sign that we are fulfilling our mission. From Fall 2023 to Winter 2024, we retained 92.4% of our on campus first year students. That’s the highest since Winter 2020! We retained new transfer students at a rate of 94.2 and 82.4% for on campus and online students respectively. The highest on campus number since 2018. 

Our progress is what success looks like! Continuous improvement in these areas will help us grow our enrollment and budgetary sustainability, and it takes the entire campus to make it happen. Of course there is work to be done to create more equity in student success and retention, and we will continue to grow.

What if we kept it up? What if we retained more students for Spring term and then for Fall 2024? That is a challenge worth pursuing, and it’s worth rethinking how we do things to get there.

Another clue we’re headed in the right direction was the incredible faculty participation at Jeremiah Sim’s presentation of the workshop “Cultivating an Ecosystem of Radical Belonging at EOU: Soil Determines the Health of a Fruit.” Nearly a third of our faculty participated in this event. Whoa. Looks like some people are already starting to rethink what they do!

This year’s Celebrate, Educate, Appreciate Diversity (CEAD) Conference was a huge success, and another sign we are creating opportunity for the next generation of leaders! There were over 100 participants with 44% students, 45% faculty/staff, and 11% community members. We’re grateful to our partners at TVCC for participating. The conference offered a space for connections, education, and a broader understanding of differences in groups, backgrounds, cultures, practices, and worldviews. I really enjoyed getting to see our students be leaders in growing awareness, and I’m so proud of our staff who supported them. 

I’d like to share some good news from Financial Aid. Jason Hibbert, Interim Director of Financial Aid, successfully passed the exam to become certified as a Financial Aid Administrator through National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. He joins an elite group of other financial aid professionals by successfully passing a comprehensive knowledge exam and affirming commitment to the standards of ethical behavior that have long been a hallmark of the financial aid profession. 

I’ve been mostly keeping it local these last two weeks. I had the pleasure of separately meeting with County Commissioner and EOU Alum Matt Scarfo, District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel, Superintendent and Trustee George Mendoza to work on several unrelated yet worthwhile projects. I traveled to Imbler, Ontario, Vale and Nyssa to meet with superintendents and high school students to encourage new partnerships. We had our recent board meeting that focused on student success and conducting the business of the university. After the board meeting, we held a reception for student leaders that was both well attended and awesome. Speaking of students, I also met with Student Advocates for Gender Equality, the MountainQueers, and the ASEOU Senate. Of course, there was also the usual smattering of meetings. 

Some of you may have noticed the puzzles around campus. Making progress on a puzzle requires the linking of pieces to create a whole through coordination and connection of seemingly mismatched and non-aligning objects. Sometimes our work on student success, campus vitality, strategy, and financial sustainability seems like working on a puzzle.  I believe progress on a puzzle benefits from collaboration. Let me be clear, I do not view EOU as a puzzle to be solved, rather we are many pieces that can and should fit together to create something larger than any one piece, unit, or division. 

As we continue to move forward I want to thank all of you who are stepping up and supporting positive change, positive “vibes” and positively contributing to EOU for our students, our faculty, and our staff. 

Thank you for all you do!


Kelly Ryan, Ph.D.