Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Presidential Name Game

Story from KXLY with EWU English Professor Grant Smith - who specializes in the sounds of candidates names and how that impacts their chances of winning an election.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Gun Debate

Continuing the discussion of campus shootings and safety, the issue of weapons on campus has surfaced once again. Many state's, including Washington, have or are debating such issues.
Here's an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that outlines many concerns that administrators here have as well.

Chronicle of Higher Ed


e2Campus Alert System

EWU signed up for this text messaging/email alert system after Virginia Tech, and was able to use it during the recent snow storm with a lot of success.
Now, after the latest shooting at Northern Illinois, this CNN article includes an email from an Eastern student praising the system. Hopefully it will help us in an emergency, but one never knows.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Campus Security - Update

A bill that includes campus security improvements for Eastern Washington University has cleared the Washington State House of Representatives and is on the way to the senate. This supplemental request would provide money for two more counselors, two more police officers, laptop computers for our patrol cars, and a wi-fi camera system that would help our officers monitor buildings in real time during an emergency.
Ultimately, these tools would give our campus another layer of security as we try and make sure students, faculty and staff are safe. But by no means will it be the answer.
The counselors would actually be part of a new campus awareness program (an alert team) that EWU hopes will help spot and address problem behavior before someone turns violent.
Here's a link to an article in the Chronicle of Education that addresses security on college campuses in light of the latest shooting, at Northern Illinois.


Monday, February 11, 2008


Eastern Advantage

Article in this mornings Spokesman profiling new program EWU has started to help more first-generation students attend college. 'Eastern Advantage' is especially important considering the growing competition among the regional colleges to maintain strong enrollment numbers. Here's the story:

EWU expands effort to help first-generation students
Shawn Vestal
Staff writer
February 11, 2008

In the middle of his freshman year, Carlo Calvillo was ready to drop out of Eastern Washington University and return to Tonasket.

College was a stressful, foreign environment. Money was tight. He missed his mom and feared that his younger brother and sister needed him. "Maybe I should give up this dream," Calvillo thought.

"I was really debating whether to go home and get a job."

A lot of students in his shoes do just that. Among so-called first-generation college students, those whose parents didn't go to college, the dropout rate is almost three times that of students whose parents are college graduates.

Calvillo, though, is a part of Washington Achievers, a Gates Foundation program that provides scholarship money and a network of supportive tutors and mentors to help negotiate the world of college. He had a place to go for advice and encouragement, and now he's a junior studying pre-med in Cheney.

EWU is preparing to add scholarships and mentoring support for 250 first-generation students under a new initiative that will be merged with the Gates program. The program is part of a $7 million statewide expansion of college services for low-income and first-generation students. Washington State University, for example, is expanding the number of students who will get grants and support services by 250.

With college and public officials trying to drive up the number of college graduates and improve access to education for poor and minority students, they say that ensuring first-generation kids succeed is key.

The new program, Eastern Advantage, will give $1,500 scholarships and begin the process of mentoring students when they're juniors in high school. A key component of such programs is an effort to make all aspects of college life – from financial aid to the cafeteria to time management – familiar and comfortable. "Just negotiating some of the regular functions of university life – office hours, the syllabus, the office of financial aid. … It's a whole new world," said Dorothy Zeisler-Vralsted, vice president for student affairs at EWU.

'Thorny bureaucracies'

Francisco Salinas, director of student support services at WSU, recalls coming across a "ridiculous" and disheartening statistic a few years back: The single biggest predictive factor in whether a high school student goes to college was whether his or her parents had done so.

"There's a cumulative story that happens with students," he said. "If a parent went to college, not only do they have a relationship with an institution, but an understanding of university life. The student has to navigate some thorny bureaucracies. … Having a parent who has gone through that can demystify the process."

Research shows that first-generation students struggle in virtually every measure of college success. A National Center for Education Statistics study in 2005 examined a wide range of data from the 1990s.

"The findings from this report indicate that compared with students whose parents attended college, first-generation students consistently remained at a disadvantage after entering postsecondary education: they completed fewer credits, took fewer academic courses, earned lower grades, needed more remedial assistance, and were more likely to withdraw from or repeat courses they attempted," the report says.

During those years the report examined, 23.5 percent of first-generation students who enrolled in college graduated. Of those whose parents had degrees, 67.5 percent did.

Various college and federal programs already are in place to help "disadvantaged students," including a range of federal services known as TRIO programs.

Some are targeted to certain populations. UI's College Assistance Migrant Program provides financial aid and a support network for 35 students a year who come from the families of migrant workers.

Yolanda Bisbee, program director, said that since 1999, 69 CAMP students have graduated from the UI, including engineers and future doctors. She said the program offers counseling, required study sessions, advice for managing time and close monitoring of academic progress. If students fall behind or perform poorly in class, they get immediate help.

It's the kind of thing that a lot of students could use, she said.

"All freshmen should have a program like this," she said.

'Kind of scary'

Amber Rhodes, a 23-year-old EWU graduate, was a Washington Achievers scholar and is now a mentor for the program at Eastern. She grew up in Spokane, and while her mother encouraged her to attend college, there wasn't the money to pay for it.

She won the Washington Achievers scholarship her senior year at West Valley High School. The program isn't specific to EWU, and it gave her the chance to visit several campuses before making a decision – another advantage in terms of preparation.

"It was kind of scary just starting at a university," she said. "I couldn't really ask anyone in my family about it."

The new Eastern Advantage program will follow the guidelines of the Achievers program, but expand it significantly – adding 250 students to the roughly 200 Achievers. One key part of the new program will be that it accepts applications from high school juniors, and provides campus visits and academic preparation before the freshman year begins.

Zeisler-Vralsted said that in the seven years since the Gates Foundation program started, it's had lower dropout rates and higher graduation rates than the general student population.

"Their overall six-year graduation rates are significantly higher than our traditional Eastern student," Zeisler-Vralsted said. "It works."

Calvillo said one of the key benefits of the program is providing a clear motivation for students who may not have one at home.

"I want to show younger kids, not only underprivileged but undermotivated kids, that they can do it," he said.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Signing Day

Wednesday we had yet more snow, and oh yeh, it was national letter of intent day for high school and junior college football players.
Eastern had to make up some ground with the coaching change, but here's a take on how things went from the Seattle Times.

Seattle Times

Friday, February 01, 2008


Snowed In

Been a difficult week for many, as the series of snow storms has made traveling a bit tenuous. The roads to our Cheney campus are pretty good now, but parking is still an issue. The streets and lots are full of snow berms, the city is running out places to put the white stuff.
Many folks are discovering that riding the bus isn't such a bad thing, and they might continue to do it even beyond winter.
Also, I've learned the lifeline to the University in times like this is the snow line, 359-SNOW. As a former reporter, I've sort of flipped the switch into my news mode, providing daily (often 2-3 times a day) updates on the snow line as if it were a mini-news report.
Our new e2Campus alert system, purchased after Virginia Tech, has also been a great tool. We can basically send a text message to your cell phone or email address within seconds of learning of a closure. This weather event has been a great test run for the system, as we have learned its nuances and how it can work in a major emergency (active shooter, bomb threat). Also, more than 400 people have signed up for e2Campus since last weekend once they realized how it can help them get the latest information. We have roughly 2,000 students, parents, faculty and staff on the system now with a capacity of up to 10,000.
It may very well be May by the time all the snow melts, but so far, a winter to remember.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?