Eastern Magazine | Fall/Winter 2019

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From Humble Beginnings EWU’s first “foot ball” field, located behind the old Normal School building, in 1903. That year’s club, depicted here against an unidentified opponent, were “the lightest team we have ever put out,” according to the Cheney Normal State School yearbook. The squad made up for any physical deficiencies, however, with “team work and snappy ball” — qualities that yielded them three wins and two ties during their seven-game schedule. Today’s Eagles are in no way undersized, but their own venue, Roos Field, is less snappy than it used to be. Learn more about efforts to provide much-needed renovations on Page 30.


Dear Alumni and Friends: Sometimes people describe Eastern as a “hidden gem.” But, truly, we’re no longer the shy institution on the West Plains quietly serving the region. Our impact is significant—and growing every year. We’re developing creative approaches toward teaching, learning, and research. We’re listening to students, learning how we can best serve them. We’re working with employers in new ways to ensure we meet their changing needs. We’re challenging the status quo. To help spread the word, EWU is launching a brand positioning campaign, The New Think, which will help our university community as well as alumni and supporters to visualize and understand Eastern’s important role in transforming the region. Despite significant changes as Eastern innovates and grows, our goals and our mission remain rock solid. They have never changed: • We serve students and the region. • We are the pipeline for the highly skilled professional workforce needed in this region and beyond. • We support and enhance the diversity and the economic and cultural vitality of this region. • We provide huge benefits to students, families, and communities. • We are this region’s public university. We’ve been a strong institution for so long because we’ve continually re-examined ourselves. While our mission remains focused and steady, we continue to serve the needs of a changing economy and society, changing students, and the changing role of public regional universities. Thank you so much for your commitment and your love for Eastern. Working together, we’re forging the new American university. With your support, we’re powering the region.

Mary Cullinan President, Eastern Washington University




EWU LEGACY An estate plan can help you provide for and protect your loved ones while supporting the philanthropic causes most important to you. • Create a gift and estate plan that will achieve a lasting impact for your family and others • Tailor your giving to reflect your unique interests and needs

FALL/WINTER 2019 EDITOR Charles E. Reineke ART DIRECTOR Ryan Gaard ’02 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dave Meany Leilah Langley PHOTOGRAPHY Austin Frostad Eric Galey ’84

• Help Eastern Washington University achieve its mission for current and future generations.


Let us help you get started with complimentary estate planning tools at www.ewulegacy.org.


This information is not intended as tax, legal or financial advice. Gift results may vary. Consult your personal financial advisor for information specific to your situation.

FOR INFORMATION, CONTACT: EWU Office of Gift Planning Laura Thayer Senior Director of Gift Planning 509.359.6901 lthayer3@ewu.edu ewulegacy.org

MAGAZINE ADVISORY BOARD Karene Garlich-Loman ’03, ’98 Joseph Haeger ’10 Kory Kelly ’98 Nick Lawhead ’07 Lisa Leinberger ’98 Brian Lynn ’98 Kelly Naumann ’10 Robin Pickering ’03, ’97

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! EMAIL easternmagazine@ewu.edu PHONE 509.359.6422 WRITE Eastern Magazine, 102 Hargreaves Hall Cheney, WA 99004-2413 Eastern magazine is published spring/ summer and fall/winter by EWU Marketing & Communications and is mailed free to alumni of record in the United States. View this and previous issues online at ewu.edu/easternmagazine.




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CONTENTS Features 18 A Next-Generation Science Star Steps Up

Marcos Monteiro, a molecular biology standout, is the university’s first-ever Goldwater Scholar.

22 Beauty Wild and Untrammeled

Can Eastern restore a long-lost patch of prairie?

30 Advancing the Standard

EWU’s athletic director explains the hows and whys of proposed Roos Field renovations.

34 Eastern Achievers


An awards gala showcases the extraordinary stories of five amazing Eagle alumni.

45 Remembering Henry-York Steiner

Hank Steiner, a revered professor of English at EWU, created a lasting legacy of service.

Departments 04 08 40 42 45 47

President’s Letter Eastern Etc. On the Road Class Notes In Memoriam Last Word

On the Cover: A portion of EWU’s 120-acre parcel of Palouse prairie. Photo by Sam Buzby; digital enhancements by Ryan Gaard. Inset image: Remnant prairie in bloom at Steptoe Butte. Photo by Peter Haigh.




Brave New Communications

Augmented reality gives prospective students a window into all things Eastern.

Photo by Danielle Flinn


lopped down among EWU’s Cheney Hall, the Science Building and the Computing and Engineering Building is a small storage structure that in recent years has come to lead something of a double life: mundane maintenance facility on the inside, transformative student art space on the outside. The current exhibition at this “Inside/Out Gallery” is something entirely new to the Eastern campus, an augmented reality display. Twenty-five students in visual communication design, or VCD, worked with Travis Masingale, an associate professor in the program, to complete the project last spring. Augmented reality is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Remember the Pokémon GO phenomenon? That’s augmented reality. The display was designed to both entertain and inform current and prospective students, says Masingale, who developed the idea after years of watching campus tour leaders struggle to keep visitors fully engaged. “They come up here and the parents are usually bored by the time they get up on this platform. The students are usually tuning out as well. So the thought was, ‘What if we gave them something to do that would show how cool Eastern is?’ ” To complete the project, the class broke into six groups. Each focused on a category featured on EWU’s “Interactive Program Explorer” webpage, a digital platform that helps prospective students decide their field of study. They then created augmented reality elements inspired by the Interactive Program Explorer's six career categories: creators, doers, helpers, organizers, persuaders and thinkers. To access the VCD content, visitors download a smartphone app that allows them to focus on icons affixed to the walls of the gallery. When properly aligned, the app detects and plays videos, shows student testimonials and provides links that allow further exploration of all that EWU has to offer. The augmented reality elements are a unique way of highlighting the university and visual communication design, says Danielle Flinn, a VCD major who served as project manager for the exhibition. “We wanted to show how great of a community we have in the VCD program, and just how anybody can really come in and find a home and a community on Eastern’s campus,” she says.



Pianist, Teacher, Hall of Famer


ody Graves, a music professor and director of piano studies at EWU, in October was inducted into the Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame. Applauding her “passionate commitment to teaching and inspiring young people,” Steinway CEO Ron Losby said that Graves’ dedication to her students was both “commendable and rare.” Eastern magazine caught up with the honoree shortly before she traveled to New York for the induction ceremony. You can read the full interview at ewu.edu/magazine. How did you initially discover your aptitude for the piano? Did you know right away that it was the instrument for you? I started playing when I was 3 years old. My mom was my first teacher, and, by age 5, I was sent to another teacher for further training. What role did teachers play in helping you discover and develop your talent? I have worked with some of the best teachers in the U.S. and abroad. The common thread with all of them was their encouragement and belief in my talent, as well as their honesty in what it takes to navigate the life of a concert artist. There is an old myth that you are either a concert artist or a teacher... the reality is that 99 percent of concert artists are also teachers. What qualities does it take to become, as the Steinway & Sons citation put it, a teacher that “helps students lay the foundation for a lifetime of musical and artistic expression?” The first quality that comes to mind is that you have to also be performing and practicing so the nuances and challenges of the craft remain fresh. I happen to teach piano, but what I really do is teach people; the piano is simply the venue, as it were, to elicit curiosity and excitement. I tell my students that “it is never about perfection... it is always about presence.”

In times past, there was a piano in almost every middle-class household, and learning to play was a right-of-passage for millions of young people. That’s changed, obviously. What future do you envision for the instrument? With the advent of the electronic keyboard the piano has actually continued to be accessible, and in homes, in ways that a regular acoustical instrument cannot, especially for middle-class households. There is continued fascination with the piano and with those who play, whether it be in popular music, rock and roll, or on the classical concert stage. There’s been an interesting shift in concert programs in that we now see more of an eclectic array of repertoire appealing to wider audiences, such as Americana, Broadway, Latin American dance and classical works. Additionally, every other instrument and voice requires a pianist for their repertoire, so the piano is an integral part of music and always will be in my opinion.

Even while serving as EWU’s director of piano studies, you’ve continued to have a very successful career as a performer. How difficult is it for you to do both jobs at such a high level? Ah, this is the question that resonates with every performing artist, author, scientist or researcher in academia! I generally teach here from six to seven hours in a given day, and then I add a couple of hours of practicing my own work on top of that. Keeping my skills honed for the concert stage requires daily work at the instrument. So, while some weeks are more challenging than others, if I need to stay into the evening and coach one of our chamber trios or give some extra coaching to students preparing for competition, then that's what I do.




Art and Science

A colorful celebration of discovery now enlivens the Science Building.


ven as the new Interdisciplinary Science Center rises next door, the old Science Building at EWU remains a vital center for learning and discovery. It is also now a destination for art aficionados, thanks to a massive, science-celebrating mural recently completed by a creative group of EWU students. “The Enduring Beam of Science,” as the new work is titled, depicts all major areas of study represented in the building. The mural was the brainchild of Nigel Davies, a scientific instructional technician in geology, who felt something was needed to adorn the bland walls framing the Science Building’s temporary entrance. Davies contacted EWU art instructor Lena Lopez Schindler, who agreed the walls needed attention, and a creative collaboration was born. Lopez Schindler suggested the project would make a powerful experiential course for her students. In total, a dozen students from the departments of art, visual communications design, and biochemistry signed on to work with Lopez Schindler. They began by immersing themselves in the details of the various scientific and scholarly projects ongoing in the building. “It became apparent to the class the overwhelming amount of visual

information that was in the Science Building,” says Lopez Schindler. “From the research posters lining the hallways, to display cases full of geology samples, stuffed birds, reptiles and mammals, to lecture announcements covering recent scientific discoveries.” To make sense of this wealth of visual fodder, the students formed groups and compiled sketches, eventually formally presenting their ideas to an audience of faculty, administrators and facility operators. Once “The Enduring Beam of Science” theme was ratified, the students began painting. Lopez Schindler says the project was structured as a sort of seminar on how professional artists work in the real world, with lots of moving parts, critiques and working during “off” hours to avoid high-traffic times during the school day. “For a collaboration to come to fruition every part of the project, from design to painting, is rigorously discussed and worked over as a group, individuals working as a team — much like a symphony playing a piece of music.” Visitors can view the mural during business hours via the west entry to the Science Building.

Details from "The Enduring Beam of Science" in EWU's Science Building. Photos by Kym Grime.



Home Again, Virtually

Noelle Covarrubias left Eastern, but dreamed of returning. A new online degree program is making it happen.


he was a sophomore studying at Eastern when her family in the Tri-Cities decided to relocate to the Midwest. When Noelle Covarrubias, a talented vocalist and music performance major, got the news, she was torn. Move with the family she loved, or stay at the university she adored? Family ties and personal considerations won out, and Covarrubias made the move. But she never quite got over leaving EWU, however, vowing to herself that one day she’d be back. Now, seven years later, the university’s new Online MBA Program is providing that opportunity. And Covarrubias used social media to let the world know how happy she is about it. “One of my biggest regrets was leaving @easternwashingtonuniversity in the middle of my sophomore year,” she wrote in an Instagram post in June. “It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made but I got through it and left a little piece of my heart in Cheney…I said if I were ever to pursue my master’s degree I would go back to EWU to finish what I started.” Covarrubias says she fell in love with the university after her high school choir teacher recommended she attend the EWU Jazz Dialogue Summer Camp her freshman year. “It was such a great experience for me. I learned a lot,” says Covarrubias, who went on to attend the summer camp after each of her four years of high school. After enrolling at Eastern she had every intention of graduating as an Eagle. When her plans changed in the winter of 2012, Covarrubias transferred to Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with minors in music and gerontology. Covarrubias says she knew the time was right this spring when EWU announced the start of a new Online MBA Program. She applied, was accepted, and started with the inaugural class this fall. Covarrubias will pursue her degree while working full time at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Because the program is fully online, Covarrubias won’t physically return to campus. But she fully intends to return to Cheney for graduation, she says.

Lasting Legacy

A social work instructor’s sudden passing inspires a heartfelt tribute.


hen LuAnn “Lu” Brown, died suddenly last October, the senior lecturer and associate director of EWU’s field social work education program left a huge void. Senior students whom she counseled, advised, challenged and empowered were particularly bereft, and wanted to publicly assert how Brown’s influence would endure. Their solution? Receiving their diplomas while wearing hand-knit stoles inscribed with the saying “What Would Lu Do.” Brown served the social work profession, the community, and EWU for more than two decades. A simple list of Brown’s accomplishments, her students say, doesn’t adequately explain the profound impact and

influence she had on her students, coworkers and peers as a tireless promoter of social justice. “After Lu died in October, there was palpable, deep grief in her classroom,” said one of Brown’s students, Leta Lawhead. “Many of us didn’t know how to move through it. Slowly, slowly, and so gently, some of us began to ask the same question. It was profoundly moving. That question shifted slightly, on certain days, and became, “What Would Lu Do?” Lawhead, who was awarded a Master of Social Work degree during last spring’s EWU commencement ceremony in Spokane, led the effort to knit the commemorative stoles. She proudly wore her’s during the June 15 event. “I remember the first time that I met her in a practicum prep class my first year of grad school,” explained Lawhead. “I immediately knew that she was someone that I wanted to get to know—she had this amazing energy for advocacy and macro work; her passion for empowering and challenging people was contagious.”




Transformative Journey

EWU students travel in the footsteps of America’s civil rights icons.


Photo by Adam Jones./Global Photo Archive/Flickr

pring break is traditionally known as a week to relax and unwind, perhaps even to travel to a warmer climate and lay by a pool or the ocean. For 15 EWU Africana Studies students, however, spring break involved a different kind of trip — a “1,000mile tour” that wasn’t about catching the sun’s rays and enjoying drinks with festive umbrellas. It was instead about experiencing personal growth through exploring a turbulent and transformative time in American history: the movement for civil rights. The “1,000 Miles Civil Rights Tour” took students to prominent movement sites in six southern states: Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia. From March 22-29 the group visited museums and monuments that capture the impact of the long struggle for equality. The tour provided a unique opportunity for the students to “taste and see” the price paid by so many heroic individuals whose An interpretive exhibition at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee. demands for equity and equality forever changed America’s laws and culture. The impact of this experience is something that is not easily translated that couldn't be duplicated in a classroom or in a textbook. A real-world to the pages of a magazine. That is why, upon their return, the students and deeply meaningful learning experience is exactly what Scott Finnie, put together a campus presentation and video to tell their story. the university's Africana Studies Program director, was hoping for. “We “There’s no way to truly prepare for this trip,” says EWU student were able to, in a sense, turn something cold, historical and distant, of Chelsea Smith in the video. “Emotionally, physically and mentally— the past, and make it an emotive and present reality,” he says. there’s no way.” The 1,000 Miles Civil Rights Tour was the culmination of a winter“Looking at my peers on this trip, I saw no dry eyes,” another student, quarter class that covered the history of America’s civil rights struggle Kris McLemore, says. “I saw lots of weary eyes and I saw pain that they during the post-World War II period. The course involved daily journaling never thought they would see before.” and led up to several class presentations. Finnie hopes to make the class “I felt sad, but also hopeful,” adds fellow student Monica Winn. and the Deep South trip an annual experience for EWU students. Watching the video, viewers feel a sense of the deep impact this You can find the 1,000 Miles Civil Rights Tour testimonial video on journey had on the students’ hearts and minds — an emotional journey the university’s YouTube channel: ewuvideo.

More Love for the New PUB

Professional architects agree, Eastern’s PUB is the place to be.


astern’s Pence Union Building, recent recipient of a $47 million remodel, has become everything renovation advocates had hoped for: an inviting center for student activities, a welcoming gathering place for the campus community, and a symbol of Eastern’s commitment to a new era of higher education. Now add another plaudit: architectural icon. In October, the new PUB received a citation from the Washington Council of the American Institute of Architects recognizing it as exemplifying “design



excellence in publicly funded projects located in Washington state.” Only eleven other projects were so honored. The awards, according to the citation, highlighted projects with the highest standards in sustainability, innovation, building performance and overall integration with the client and surrounding communities. In the PUB’s case, judges were particularly entranced with the its gleaming front elevation and its soaring interior staircase that, they said, “integrated the life of the whole building.”

Joy and Growth

Eastern physical therapy students learn by assisting little ones in need.


Photos by Leilah Langley

atching children grow, play and learn is a timeless joy. It’s a pleasure made even more palpable when kids with developmental delays and disabilities are doing these things with the help of EWU physical therapy students. This was the scene last summer at the Joya Child and Family Development Center in Spokane, a facility that provides developmental therapy for children up to age 3. Therapy at Joya often looks like play time — with toys, cheers and laughter — especially when the personalized sessions are led by enthusiastic Eagles. The students’ work with the Joya kids was a clinical internship requirement of EWU’s Pediatric Summer Seminar, a course created last year by EWU instructor and Joya physical therapist, Ginette Kerkering. She says she set up the internships after realizing that working with kids at Joya would be a perfect opportunity for Eastern students to get hands-on training at a pediatric facility. “The lab on campus is really just set up for adult clients and students,” says Kerkering. “Because they are able to come to Joya to complete this, they are able to work with children in a kid-friendly environment with all of the standard equipment that is available.” The seminar, she adds, is aimed at physical therapy graduate students interested in working with the youngest of patients. “This is a great experience for them to get some hands-on time learning to evaluate and develop a treatment plan for children,” says Kerkering. “Then they get to follow through on their treatment plan and make changes daily depending on what works and what doesn’t work. They also get exposure Top: EWU graduate students, Danielle Watsek (right) and Hannah Carey-Brown (back to camera), work with 8-month talking to parents.” old Arleth, a Joya Child and Family Development patient. Above: Carey-Brown, Watsek and a smiling Arleth. “It’s been amazing so far,” says third-year graduate student Hannah Carey-Brown. “It’s been our first clinical happy little ones grew stronger with each student-led session. experience working with pediatric patients and so we got to apply what “The EWU students have so much creativity and enthusiasm and are we’ve been learning for the past two years.” very invested in their little clients,” Kerkering says. “And our little clients Parents with kids at Joya do not pay anything extra for their children’s get to be teachers to the graduate students by showing them their skills time with EWU students. During one therapy session over the summer, it and how [the students] can help them move. I think that everyone goes was obvious that the adults in the room very much shared the joy as their home tired but smiling.”




Cultivating Sustainability

A cornucopia of organic produce aims to take a bite out of hunger.


ecent upgrades to the university’s sort-of-secret Sustainability Garden — already a cornucopia of gorgeous organic produce — are giving this out-of-theway plot a more prominent role in helping food-insecure students eat better. The changes this season, according to EWU Sustainability Coordinator Erik Budsberg, have been something of a turning point for the garden. This, he says, is chiefly thanks to a redesign that has made it more manageable. “What we’ve done here is a more traditional row crop,” Budsberg says. “The garden used to be a lot more spread out, so we took everything and packed it into a tighter area. Before we would have grass and weeds in between the beds and that was just getting too hard for me to manage.” Budsberg says the changes aren’t only about weed management; they are also about introducing the campus community to doit-yourself food production. “We wanted to showcase two different ways to make food,” Above: EWU's Sustainability Garden in early June. Below: A bounty of healthy food options. Photos by Leilah Langley. he says. The first way — crop rows — are typically bursting with many of the vegetables you would expect: corn, beans, The second growing method, new to the EWU garden this year, cucumbers, beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, peppers, turnips, tomatoes, involves raised beds — essentially large boxes framed with wood or squash, zucchini and pumpkins. There are also raspberries, grapes and cement block. Filled with composted topsoil, raised beds can help an orchard with apple and peach trees. gardeners overcome less-than-perfect soil conditions in their native grounds. “This is something anybody can build in their backyard if they have a limited space or want something easy and contained,” Budsberg says. Earlier this fall, EWU’s raised beds were packed with lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, peas, radishes, turnips and beets. Budsberg says these “salad mix” plants have a shorter growing season and are more frost tolerant. The goal, he adds, is to have much of this food ready when the majority of students return to campus. During fall quarter, for example, free food from the garden was distributed via “Fresh Market” events that were held on Thursdays in front of the PUB. Anything left over was given to food-pantry cabinets around campus, while more perishable items were forwarded to EWU Dining Services for use in campus meals. “We’re trying to make something that is really useful for the university,” adds Budsberg. “For students to be able to use but that also is not a big draw on resources.”



A Gift of Music

An alumnus craftsman and his wife present Eastern with a tuneful, long-lived contribution.


ynn Nelson ’69 is a luthier; i.e., a maker of stringed musical instruments. During a Thanksgiving event in Hargreaves Hall earlier this year, Lynn and his wife, Gail, presented the university with a gift as unique as it was generous—a string-quartet’s worth of instruments: two violins, a viola and a cello, each exclusively for use by Eastern’s music department. “We are so honored to receive these works of art, which I trust our students and faculty will use to express their art for generations to come,” said master of ceremonies Shari Clarke, the vice president of diversity and inclusion at EWU. EWU and music run in Nelson’s blood. After earning a degree from the university in music education, Nelson moved to Oregon and worked in K-12 education for many years. But back in the 1980s he made a transition to his true passion: repairing and crafting stringed instruments. Years later, fueled by that passion, Nelson used maple from the Swiss Alps and spruce from Bavaria and Austria to begin work on Eastern’s new pieces. The end result? A truly valuable gift designed to last far beyond the tenure of students studying music at Eastern now. “In my three decades as a luthier,” Nelson says, “it was common to work on one hundred and two-hundred-year-old instruments. I say this because I have the expectation that these instruments should survive at Eastern at least three centuries.”

Eastern's "quartet" of instruments hang on ball-bearing turnbuckles while soaking up the sun after their final application of varnish. Photo courtesy of Lynn Nelson.

In the meantime, two students and two faculty members were awarded the inaugural performance with the instruments. Faculty members Julia Salerno and John Marshall joined graduate students Alexis Andrus and Nicole Leach in an arrangement of the tune “Waltzing Matilda.”

Entrepreneurially Teaching

An Eastern arts expert masters the business case study.


onathan Middleton, a professor of music at EWU, is a champion of the fine arts. He is not, strictly speaking, a business person. But after a recent conference he may need to update his CV. In September, Middleton and Jeff Culver, an information systems and business analytics lecturer, attended a three-day clinic at the University of Tampa designed to help them take advantage of a program called the “experiential classroom.” The idea behind the experiential classroom clinic was to help scholars to develop creative and innovative ways to teach entrepreneurship and develop entrepreneurship programs. The attendees from EWU are developing curriculum for the new

bachelor of arts in music technology and entrepreneurship degree at Eastern, a collaboration between the Music Department and the College of Business. On day one of the program, Middleton found himself in unfamiliar territory: tasked with teaching a business-related class. “Nothing more daunting for a music teacher,” he says. But Middleton figured he could get by with focusing on the fundamentals of pedagogy, an area he knows well after more than 20 years at EWU. “There has to be a common place where all great teaching starts—no matter what the subject is,” Middleton explains. “In my music classes, I ask a lot of questions and this creates engagement with students; it draws them in and draws out solutions to problems. In this manner, the students claim some ownerships and they become more attached to the learning process.” The next day, Middleton and his peers taught a 45-minute business case study. The team placed first among the 14 groups taking part in the workshop. “While I did not know the subject matter, I did know how to structure an engaging classroom experience. That paid off,” he says.




‘School Comes First’

A standout Eagle is named one of the nation’s top scholar athletes.


pencer Blackburn, a sixth-year senior center on the EWU will be a great experience for Spencer,” added Hickey. “Spencer is the football team, in October was selected as one of 12 national epitome of what Eastern has built with its football program,” Hickey finalists for the William V. Campbell Trophy, an award says. “He is an outstanding young man who excels both academically recognizing football scholar athletes who combine academic success, and athletically.” football performance and exemplary leadership. The annual award is presented by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, a New York-based non-profit and educational organization that seeks to “use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people.” Blackburn and the other 11 finalists will each receive an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship as a member of the foundation’s 2019 National Scholar-Athlete Class. In December, Blackburn traveled with his fellow honorees to the New York Hilton Midtown for an awards ceremony, during which the Campbell trophy winner was announced (the event occurred just after this magazine went to press). “I wouldn’t be able to earn an honor like this if it wasn’t for the coaching staff and the people around me,” Blackburn said in a statement. “It’s cliché to say that, but it’s a group which actually truly says school comes first.” Blackburn is a 2014 graduate of Meridian High School in Bellingham, Washington. He has a streak of more than 45 consecutive starts since taking over the center position in the fourth game of the 2016 season. He’s earned second-team All-Big Sky honors in each of the last three seasons, and earned NCAA Football Championship Subdivision All-America honors a year ago. In addition to all this, Blackburn has completed an economics major and earned a second major in accounting earlier this fall. “He hits the books harder than football, and he hits football pretty hard,” says Eastern head coach Aaron Best. “It’s more than football in our program here at Eastern, and he’s the epitome of that.” Eastern's athletic director Lynn Hickey Spencer Blackburn on the practice field in 2018. Photo by Dan Pelle, The Spokesman-Review. echoed Best's praise. “This is a great honor and



A Passion for Hoops

Eastern’s new wheelchair basketball coach aims to establish a sanctioned program.


n fall 2017, EWU launched a men’s wheelchair basketball club, and the team soon began competing in various tournaments around the Northwest. A year later, the university received a $50,000 grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation that allowed it to establish a para-athletics program — the next step toward participation in officially sanctioned competition — and to purchase four basketball wheelchairs in Eagle-red. Momentum for wheelchair basketball picked up from there, as further fund raising efforts yielded a gift of $250,000 from Premera Blue Cross and Alliant Insurance Services. These combined gifts have allowed Eastern to hire a head wheelchair basketball coach, David Evjen, himself a standout para-athlete. Evjen is currently the Spanish Cultural Liaison at Willmar High School, in Willmar, Minnesota, a small town about two hours west of Minneapolis. He was born in Bogotá, Colombia. Adopted by American parents as a baby, Evjen grew up in Minnesota, where he excelled in high school football, basketball, track and baseball. But his life changed dramatically in May 2012 after a herniated lower-back disc caused permanent nerve damage in his left leg. Five months later he was playing wheelchair basketball. He hasn’t looked back. “I wanted to take on the challenge of starting an intercollegiate wheelchair basketball team at EWU because, in the short time that I have been involved in the sport, it has presented me with many opportunities that I never would have thought were possible otherwise,” Evjen says. To be housed in athletics with support from the College of Health Science and Public Health, EWU Para Sport, as it will be known, hopes to

soon field a team of athletes that will participate in the National Wheelchair Basketball Association’s intercollegiate division. Donna Mann, associate dean of CHSPH, says her college has long been instrumental in promoting the benefits of an active lifestyle, including active lifestyles for those with disabilities. “Athletics is an effective way to support physical and emotional health,” says Mann. “This is also a way to educate the community about the social inequities that exist for people with spinal cord injuries.” Evjen, who played wheelchair basketball for five years at Southwest Minnesota State University and two years for the Colombian national team, plans to have the EWU team ready for the 2020-21 NWBA season. “I have developed a passion for the sport,” Evjen says. “I want to help promote it for as long as I can.”

Coaching Acclaim

Bodnar named Big Sky Coach of the Year for Women's Soccer.


fter an outstanding season, Chad Bodnar, EWU’s head women’s soccer coach, in November was named 2019 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year. The honor is the first for Bodnar, who just completed his sixth campaign as head coach. It is just the second coachof-the-year award in program history. “I’m extremely appreciative for this honor. It’s a testament to my staff, the team and all of the players who have built this program into what it is today,” Bodnar said after the award was announced in November. “[Staff members] Pete Showler, Mackenzie German and Lauren Sitton are amazing people to work with, and the players have worked hard and had a great season.”

During conference play this year, EWU strung together an unbeaten streak of six matches, their second-longest conference streak ever. The regular season ended with Eastern playing for a chance to win the 2019 regular season championship. A heartbreaking loss to Montana denied the team that title, and a similarly difficult 1-0 loss to Northern Colorado in the championship game ended their hopes for a Big Sky Tournament crown. Bodnar was hired as the third head women's soccer coach in Eastern Washington history in 2013. Since then he has amassed the highest winning-percentage of all current head Big Sky coaches.







hen he arrived in the United States from Brazil six years ago, Marcos Monteiro started down a winding path in search of his future. That road would eventually find him sharing a home with his sister’s family in Provo, Utah, falling in love and marrying a Spokane native, enrolling at Spokane Falls Community College to be closer to her family before, finally, transferring to EWU at the end of 2018. At Eastern he would find life-altering mentorships, forwardlooking research opportunities and, most recently, recognition as a Barry Goldwater Scholar, as accolade reserved for the nation’s top STEM students. The Barr y Goldwater Scholarship, established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a memorial to the work of the late Arizona senator, is one of the most competitive in the country. Monteiro, a senior, is the first Eastern student named a Goldwater Scholar. He is one of only eight students in Washington state to be so honored. The scholarship will provide him with $7,500 to complete his senior year at EWU. As is typical of Monteiro, he says he’ll be using the funds to do extra course work in preparation for

graduate studies. “I’m applying this fall,” says Monteiro. “If I’m approved, I will start the PhD program in the fall of 2020.” His professors are confident he’ll have plenty of offers to choose from. “He’s an awesome student, probably one of the best I’ve had here,” says Andrea Castillo, associate professor in biology and one of Monteiro’s mentors. “I don’t see him having any trouble getting into any school.” About this there is little doubt. Monteiro, who is studying microbiology and molecular biology, boasts a perfect grade-point average and has already distinguished himself as an undergraduate researcher. One of the chief qualifications for a Goldwater scholarship, for example, is that students have published their research in leading journals or have presented their work at conferences. Monteiro met that high bar with a study involving manuka honey, a type of honey native to New Zealand that is reputed to have powerful antibacterial properties. Monteiro helped determine that the honey does, in fact, have real therapeutic potential — this thanks to its unique ability to alter the iron uptake in a particularly nasty, multidrug-resistant



bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, effectively killing it. “Consequently, manuka honey can be used to treat these patients,” he says. “And knowing its antimicrobial action can help the medical community to better understand how manuka honey can treat infections.” Monteiro presented his work at multiple conferences last year, including a presentation at the Murdock Undergraduate Research Conference. According to his mentor Castillo, Monteiro and his collaborators expect to publish the study soon. Monteiro isn’t doing research just to bolster his already impressive resume, he’s doing it, he says, because he wants to make a difference for the people in his community. He is currently involved in a new research project alongside Castillo and another advisor, Javier Ochoa-Repáraz, assistant professor in biology at EWU. They are working to engineer a probiotic that they hope might one day provide an important tool in the fight against neurodegenerative illnesses such as multiple sclerosis. Over the summer, Monteiro’s road took another twist as he traveled west to Seattle. While there he hit pause on the probiotic project to complete an internship at the prestigious Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The intensive, nine-week program gave Monteiro more biomedical research experience. “I worked in Neelendu “Neel” Dey’s lab. He’s a doctor, a gastroenterologist and he works with the gut microbiome,” says Monteiro. The Dey lab at Fred Hutchinson is investigating the role of the gut microbiome in the development of colorectal cancer. Monteiro’s job was to analyze one of the bacteria of the microbiome and study the genes that it contains. “We were interested to know what is the beginning of this cascade that can lead to colorectal cancer,” says Monteiro. “And so my role was to clone these genes and to characterize them.” His experience in the Fred Hutchinson lab will allow Monteiro to bring new knowledge



Goldwater Scholar Marcos Monteiro at work in EWU's Science Building. Photos by Eric Galey.

to the probiotic research project underway at Eastern. “I had a lot of trouble during the internship just to try to do the cloning,” he says. “There was a lot of troubleshooting. So, thinking about how to troubleshoot made me realize that that’s a skill that is important in research and that I need to think differently.” Monteiro is using that valuable skill to negotiate the challenges of engineering a probiotic here in the lab at EWU. By the time Monteiro finishes his senior year in the spring, he will have two years of research experience on his resume. That work, paired with his internship over the summer, has inspired him to move the University of Washington up to the top of his search for doctoral programs. “The interesting thing about applying for a PhD [program] at UW is that you can work at Fred Hutch,” Monteiro says. “I really enjoyed that, I enjoyed the culture, I enjoyed Seattle—so for me, applying to UW makes a lot of sense.” Eventually, after a doctorate and post-doc-

toral work, Monteiro sees himself continuing his research in academia. “I think my final, end goal is to be a professor who can be a mentor,” says Monteiro. “A professor who can help people — like others have helped me — to accomplish their dreams.” His mentors see the same path. “Marcos has a way of explaining biology in a way that makes sense to others,” Ochoa-Repáraz says. Monteiro is currently using that skill to tutor math and chemistry students. But his influence at Eastern goes much further, especially now that he’s got a Goldwater Scholarship in his hand. “I think this is a way to open doors for other people as well, to show an example, like myself, an immigrant who went to community college, that Eastern can do that for them,” he says. Monteiro says he couldn’t have become Eastern’s first Goldwater Scholar without the help of numerous EWU faculty and staff members. He points to two in particular who have played a key role: Joanna Joyner-Matos,

head of Eastern’s S-STEM program, and Christina Torres García, director of EWU’s McNair Program. The “Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics” (S-STEM) program is funded by the National Science Foundation. Its goal is to allow STEM students to focus on their studies rather than on paid employment. Joyner-Matos also serves as an advisor and mentor to S-STEM students, encouraging them to seek out research opportunities and other scholarships. The Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, named for the astronaut and physicist who died in the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, helps talented firstgeneration, low-income students, as well as underrepresented minority students, pursue the types of research and scholarly activities they’ll need to gain admission to, and eventually succeed in, their chosen doctoral programs. Monteiro credits Torres Garcia and the McNair Program with steering him toward research. It's a path that Castillo and OchoaRepáraz want other students to know is possible for them at EWU. “This shows students that they can do research at Eastern to help them advance or start their careers,” Ochoa-Repáraz says. “Students can have what they think is only available at larger institutions.” Students can do research, have more access to their professors and enjoy smaller class sizes at Eastern, adds Castillo. “It’s all just this big community of support,” she says. “We need to keep it going.” For his part, Monteiro is sure his path to success can indeed be replicated by other student researchers, and even expanded to future generations. “This will be good for other people to see that they can do it as well,” says Monteiro. “Eastern has a good program. Hopefully this means more people will come here to do science.”

Mysteries of the Microbiome A prominent EWU scientist and his students, Marcos Monteiro among them, explore new ways of thinking about a devastating neurodegenerative disease.


hanks to advances in genetic sequencing technology, the human gut microbiome — that vast ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes that live in our GI tract — has recently emerged as a key area of interest to scientists around the world. Among the most intriguing areas of investigation involve the role gut bacteria may play in human pathologies, and not just infectious diseases. Here at Eastern, Javier Ochoa-Repáraz, an assistant professor of biology, is among those scientists who are exploring how the gut microbiome may play a role in neurological disorders, specifically those involving neurodegenerative autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Autoimmunity, at its most straightforward, involves a failure of the immune system to distinguish between healthy and diseased cells and tissues. No one is sure why such failures occur, or how to stop autoimmune attacks against healthy cells. But in a 2018 paper in the journal Medical Sciences, Ochoa-Repáraz summarized a host of intriguing insights suggesting the microbiome may play a key role. Chief among these is that autoimmunity disorders such as MS appear to have a “bidirectional relationship” with the gut microbiome; that is, microbial abnormalities may play a role in development of MS, while progression of the disease itself later reshapes the microbiome’s structure and function. This is important because it suggests that new therapeutic interventions could be effective in both preventing and treating MS. “If the bidirectional association between the gut microbiome and disease is better understood by researchers — including our lab and research students at EWU—clinicians could better interpret the changes of the microbiota observed,” he says. “For example, perhaps we could determine whether clinical remissions or

relapses are associated to a different microbiota, or anticipate the next stage of the disease based on the composition of the microbiota. We might also be able to better understand why some immune-mediated drugs are more effective with some patients than with others.” Ochoa-Repáraz says his ultimate goal, one he’ll pursue with the help of students like Monteiro, is to locate a specific set of microbial targets to develop a probiotic treatment for MS patients. A recently awarded grant from the National Institutes of Health will not only advance this goal, but will provide a means of getting more student researchers — particularly undergraduate researchers — involved in the project. “The NIH project is specifically designed to train undergraduate students in neuroimmunology, multiple sclerosis and the microbiome,” Ochoa-Repáraz says. “For the next three years we will likely work with more than a dozen students.” Working alongside these undergraduates will be more advanced students like Monteiro, he says. Theirs is an especially critical role. “It would be impossible to conduct any meaningful research at EWU without their help. In our case, undergraduate students work together with graduate students like Marcos to conduct all the laboratory experiments. They also take part in lab meetings and discuss the results.” The experience, he adds, will do more than just provide his lab with skilled labor. “It will,” he says, “teach students whether basic science is something they find interesting and like working on, and whether they can see themselves doing this work in the future. It will also provide a background on a very impactful disease that affects many people, particularly here in the Northwest, and on the study of the microbiome, a research area receiving more and more attention.” — Charles E. Reineke





Photo by Kurt Merg


n the days before the land was plotted, plowed and paved, the patch of Palouse prairie that EWU calls home was part of a wild, magnificent landscape; a terrestrial ocean of sun-kissed rolling hills carpeted by a vast, kaleidoscopic medley of native flora.

Throughout the year, grasses such as bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), and Basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus) created a luxuriant carpet of green and gold. Each spring, displays of multi-hued forbs — the herbaceous flowering plants that were especially prevalent in the pre-industrial Palouse — turned the hills into great, Crayola-colored super blooms. In late summer and fall, the land’s Native people sustainably harvested the berries and edible-root plants that also thrived in the rich, deep soil. “Its beauty was wild and untrammeled and the undulating hills were covered with luxuriant grasses," wrote a homesteader who



moved to the Palouse about the same time that the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy opened its doors to students. Such appreciation, however, did not deter similar Euro-American arrivals from aggressively altering the landscape. First by grazing cattle, then by intensively cultivating wheat and barley, the new arrivals — often unwittingly — ensured that the Palouse’s finely balanced ancient ecosystem would be rapidly and perhaps inalterably transformed.

Photo by Eric Galey.

Photo by Erik Budsberg

Left and center: Views of the universityowned farmland that will house Eastern's restored Palouse prairie.

Today almost nothing

of the original Palouse prairie remains. If in only a small way, Eastern Washington University hopes to change that. Earlier this year, EWU administrators announced a plan to restore a 120-acre parcel of universityowned farmland to its native habitat, thus creating a “living laboratory” of restored Palouse prairie proximate to the Cheney campus. This Prairie Restoration Project, to be developed in cooperation with representatives from area Native communities, is meant to advance student research and learning opportunities, to create a model for boosting regional biodiversity and to provide an education and recreational space connecting visitors to a longlost landscape. “This project is the perfect example of the kind

Above: Transplanted grasses and flowering forbs, like these shown growing outside of EWU's Research Greenhouse, will be crucial to the restoration effort.

of work that we do at this university,” EWU President Mary Cullinan told a crowd gathered at the project site in May. “We do research that is applied. We work to solve problems.” Noting the partnership with area tribes, Cullinan said “we respect the fact that it was tribal land that our beautiful university is on.” Carol Evans, Spokane Tribe chairwoman, also emphasized the importance of connecting with the land and learning from it. “We are going to do something wonderful here together,” she said. As envisioned by Erik Budsberg, project leader and sustainability coordinator with EWU’s Facilities and Planning Office, restoring Eastern’s prairie will be a true multi-disciplinary affair. “A big part of the project is to make it really inclusive,” Budsberg says. “We want to use it to sort of de-silo things, to truly create a lot of interdisciplinary relationships and opportunities across campus.” The restoration effort, now in its “pilot phase,” has already attracted broad interest. Geography students, for example, have been using GPSmapping techniques to provide guidance on potential land-use decisions.



Biology students and faculty members have taken advantage of grant funding from the Environmental Protection Agency to share prairierelated conservation knowledge with local school children and the wider community. And during a recent visit, a graduate student in archaeology was on site digging for artifacts related to previous habitations. In a more general way, the site will serve as a test case for how competing institutional interests can co-exist. Can, for example, research, teaching and recreation really thrive in such a space? Budsberg believes they can. As the project moves through its three-

Merg, a Wisconsin farm kid who grew up to become a research scientist and vegetation ecologist with Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, says while other forms of prairie-related research have attracted intense research interest around the nation, “there are no academic researchers that are taking on Palouse prairie per se.” What interest there has been, he adds, has come mostly from what he calls “practitioners;” professionals working with the Department of Fish

stage development plan, he says, facilities planners, research faculty and EWU students will corroborate to develop management plans, cost estimates and the identification of potential external partners that can help advance the project’s three-fold goal. When the actual physical restoration work begins, at a date yet to be determined, task one will be preparing the ground for native grass and forb plantings, while, at the same time, constructing a trail system. Such trails, Budsberg explains, are more than just a recreational amenity; they are crucial to making the research, teaching and recreation piece come together. Not only will trails provide EWU students and campus visitors with an interpretative education experience, they will also serve to keep enthusiastic guests from inadvertently trampling on research plots and fragile soils. During the project’s final phase, planners envision using educational signage, strategically placed benches, outdoor classrooms, and even a mountain bike “skills center” to attract and instruct visitors. But first things first. In the current pilot phase of the project, research will predominate. The reason is straightforward, says project advisor Kurt Merg: Surprisingly few university experts have spent much time studying the Palouse.

and Wildlife and “folks in the seed business, people working on private restoration projects, and some non-governmental organizations.” This scarcity of academic inquiry gives an added urgency to Eastern’s restoration project, especially given how little remains of the original Palouse prairie. Even the most generous estimates of the extent of “remnant” patches puts the total at less than one percent. Some ecologists believe there may be even less. More daunting still is the lack of success with previous restoration attempts. “Nobody has succeeded in replicating the diversity represented in the best of the few, extant prairie remnants,” Merg says. “That said, it took approximately one hundred and fifty years to destroy most of the Palouse prairie. Most of our attempts to restore it are fewer than 20 years old, and most are still slowly recruiting new species. Maybe the ‘problem’ is that we haven’t been trying for long enough.”


Right: Remnant Palouse prairie near Pullman, Washington. Photo courtesy of the Palouse Land Trust. Below: A computer-generated rendering of a proposed observation area for EWU's Prairie Restoration Project.

This glass-half-full

attitude is typical of those involved in Eastern’s prairie restoration effort, particularly among the graduate student researchers who will be doing the scientific leg work necessary to make it happen. Among them is Erik Peterson, 32, an EWU graduate student studying soil biology. A native of the TriCities area, Peterson did his undergraduate work at Washington State University. At Eastern’s research greenhouse, a facility located atop a slab of decidedly un-prairie-like asphalt, Peterson is working with his advisor, Rebecca L. Brown, professor and chair of the biology department, to get a handle on how microorganisms native to Palouse soils have fared over time. Previous research by Brown and others has shown that agriculture in the Palouse hasn’t just changed the flora and fauna that we see, it has also dramatically altered the ground below. To put it most simply, the unique and diverse soil communities that sustained the original prairie have, thanks to decades of grazing

and tillage, been replaced by a more limited cast of bacterial characters. The change has had a profound effect on what plants will thrive there. Peterson says making the prairie bloom again will mean understanding what came before, and then recreating it. “Just like in our gut microbiomes, there are symbionts and pathogens in the soil,” says Peterson. “One of soils’ most important symbiotic interactions with plants involves a group called the arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi, or AMF. It is thought to be one of the oldest biological associations on the planet — that the AMF communities allowed plants to shift from aquatic to terrestrial communities some 450 million or so years ago.” In rows of six-inch planters on large plastic trays, Peterson has assembled a collection of soils from remnant Palouse prairie — those small, rare plots of land such as Whitman County’s Kamiak Butte park that have never been farmed — alongside soils of agricultural sites. He then introduces both native and non-native plants into these “pot cultures,” taking note of their growth and nutrient uptake. Native plants, researchers like Peterson have learned, are especially dependent on Palouse-specific AMF communities, and vice versa. “AMF can’t survive without a plant host, and any kind of tilling destroys those communities,” he says.



Left: EWU graduate student Sarah Hill with examples of the native plants involved in her research.

Photos by Eric Galey.

Below: Palouse prairie grasses growing in soils containing varying levels of arbuscular mycorrhiza fungi, or AMF.

Rebuilding AMF communities on Eastern’s restored prairie won’t be easy. It will essentially involve “inoculating” the modern, AMF-depleted soil with fungi harvested from native prairie. The hope is that such inoculations will be sufficient to boost native grasses and forbs while impeding the spread of non-native, invasive plant species. Peterson thinks he and his colleagues can pull it off. “We’re confident that we can grow, harvest and put direct transplants into the site,” Peterson says. Fellow EWU graduate student Sarah Hill, an engaging, voluble, plant biology specialist from Ridgefield, a small town in southwest Washington, shares this conviction. Hill, 32, earned a bachelor’s degree in life science from the University of Portland, then worked at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge as a program director at the refuge's Cathlapotle Plankhouse. Her studies at Eastern span both environmental investigation and community outreach. An example of the latter is an ongoing relationship she and the university have cultivated with the Salish School of Spokane, a private K-12 school dedicated to preserving the culture and language of regional Native American tribes. “They have been learning about different prairie communities, and helping us propagate some of the plants that are going to be used in the project,” Hill says. “Definitely


engaging with our Native community, both on campus and off, is an important goal of the project.” On the science side, Hill and her advisor Robin O'Quinn, an associate professor of biology at EWU, are working with forbs, those flowering plants that once defined the prairie’s identity — at least in the minds of early European visitors. Kurt Merg fills in the role forbs played in the original prairie, and possibly why they were so quick to disappear, along with fauna that depended on them, following the advent of modern agriculture. “Forbs contribute the greatest proportion of species diversity that we see in the best Palouse prairie remnants. This diversity likely contributed to overall ecosystem function in such myriad fashion that we can’t decipher, at this point, the full consequence of their loss,” Merg says. “One example often cited among our wildlife biologists is that, unlike grass, forbs do not contain very much silica, a physical defense in grasses against grazing. Forbs are essential to supporting herbivorous

insects, which themselves are essential to young birds — like pheasants or our native sharptail grouse. Imagine now that the land, largely devoid of forbs, is unable to produce the seasonal abundance of insects upon which an entire food chain once depended. This is the kind of role we suspect that forbs once played here.” Reestablishing forbs is notoriously difficult. So far, no one is sure exactly why. It’s a question that both intrigues and motivates Hill. “How do we get more than, say, four perennial forbs species in prairie sites; that’s like the question in Palouse restoration,” she says. The scope of her efforts won’t be sufficient to solve the riddle, she admits. But she’s doing her part. Hill is looking at how soil moisture affects growth rates of Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata), a flowering forb common in the Palouse, the channeled scablands to the east of the prairie and across Eastern Washington. For restoration, she says, it’s perfect. “It’s super drought tolerant once it’s established; it’s hardy, it’s beautiful, pollinators love it, deer like to eat it — all of that.” Just as Peterson’s work revolves around soil health, Hill’s project also starts at ground level. One key to reestablishing Arrowleaf balsamroot, as with many other forbs, involves understanding the conditions that it needs to thrive. Standing in front of her own array of plant-filled plastic pots, Hill explains the challenges related to forb renewal. “I was trying to establish if the timing of different levels of soil moisture would affect growth and root biomass,” she says. “So, I set up this multi-pot experiment. It was working out just fine and then…” here Hill pauses. “… we got fungus gnats.” “Fungus gnats eat plant roots,” she says. “If I was just growing these to transplant that would be fine because a little bit of root damage might not be a big deal. But because my data are dependent on the weighing of root biomass at the end — and comparing biomass across these treatments — if the roots are damaged I won’t be able to obtain reliable data from the root weights.”

Such challenges will

undoubtedly be common, and even a cursory visit to EWU’s restoration site provides a visitor with a sense of the enormity of the project. Still, says Budsberg, fungus-gnat-style setbacks notwithstanding, there’s every reason to be confident Eastern’s restored prairie will be a success. With recently cut wheat stalks crunching underfoot — after more than 50 years of cultivation this year’s harvest will likely be the last — Budsberg gazes out over the sun-dappled hills to the Cheney campus spread out below. “It’s interesting,” he says, “how easy it is, when you’re down there on campus, to forget that Eastern is part of this beautiful, unique Palouse environment. We obviously hope to do a lot with this project, but one key outcome for me is to help the university community develop a real sense of place, that we are all a part of this amazing Palouse setting.” Standing next to him, Merg nods in agreement. Later he elaborates on why restoration professionals like him work so hard to help projects like Eastern’s succeed. There are practical reasons: Recent research suggests that the monocultures of modern agriculture, while amazingly productive, are becoming problematic for soil health. In addition, deploying prairie strips among these intensely cultivated fields can reintroduce habitat for insect predators of pests, thus reducing the need for chemical pesticides. And cultivating hedgerows of wild, flowering plants can attract pollinators that can then help pollinate adjacent crop plants, too. But the full value of prairie, Merg says, transcends economics. “Prairie cannot be replaced,” he says. “Were we to allow the last remnant to be destroyed, we would lose forever the unique inheritance of millennia,” he says. “You can’t recover species that are wholly lost; you can’t reassemble communities when the members of those communities are extinct. Why exactly would we deliberately decline this inheritance?” — To learn more about EWU’s Prairie Restoration Project, and what you can do to support it, visit www.ewu.edu/prairierestoration

Arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)

Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis)

Basin wildrye (Leymus cinereus)




A $25 million renovation project aims to transform Roos Field. Eastern’s Athletic Director Lynn Hickey explains the hows and whys.


hey say things are bigger in Texas. But that doesn’t mean better. Just ask Lynn Hickey, EWU’s director of athletics and associate vice president since April 2018. After more than 20 years of living and working in southwest Texas, Hickey knew she was in for a culture change when she accepted the university’s offer of a move to Cheney. The gorgeous scenery in our corner of Washington, the food, even how we dress — yes, we actually have winter coats — is different than what she was used to in Texas. And while Hickey admits she could take a pass on the cold and snow, the people of the Inland Northwest — specifically the people associated with EWU — have won her over with their “we can do this” attitude. It’s an outlook that’s long been part of Eastern’s DNA, going all the way back to the day Benjamin P. Cheney decided it was worth his while to start a Normal School. Major fires, economic downturns, world wars and yes, pounding blizzards: EWU has survived it all. It’s a record of resilience that blends right in with Hickey’s attitude toward the most ambitious school project in the university’s 137-year history. “It’s going to be hard, but it’s going to be fun,” she says of the $25 million stadium renovation effort. It’s an opportunity, she adds, to bring people together and nurture even stronger traditions. Where some people see a football venue, Hickey sees a symbol of a university on the move — one in which pride of purpose meets pride of place. Armed with renderings from ALSC Architects of Spokane, she has taken the lead role in articulating how the stadium remodel will be a major boost to the university. Eastern magazine sat down with Hickey to discuss the stadium project and how it fits in with the overall direction of the university. She not only gives high marks to the spirit of the region's people, but also shares her admiration for the can-do spirit of coaches and student athletes at EWU and for the unwavering backing of Eastern’s devoted supporters.



How would you say Eastern’s stadium currently stacks up against our peers in the Big Sky Conference? It’s one of the worst. If you look at just basic amenities: from concessions to restrooms, from seating to the number of seats — it’s at the bottom. What’s amazing, and so unique about it, is the red field. If you look at the rest of it, however, it’s at the bottom of the conference. It is a great place to play, but it is time to modernize it, to give everybody a better, more comfortable, experience. And then it’s really going to help us recruit, not just student athletes but students as a whole. So we really need a complete renovation? The venue —for the fans to have a really good experience — has not been addressed for many, many, many years. And the recruiting piece is huge. We are starting to hit a wall. We need to make some changes. It’s also important that we see the stadium as a centerpiece for the whole campus, the whole region. It’s the largest gathering place for Eagles, with a huge impact to the university as far as visibility.



$6.2M $4.5M

WEST | 5,171 SEATS

EAST | 3,121 SEATS

$3M $2.9M




12 POS & Restrooms

PRESS BOX 50% larger








Tell us about the planned seating configuration. Some people have wondered about the choice to not increase seating capacity. (Stadium capacity will remain about the same: 8,612.) We want it to be the hottest ticket in town. So I [have this] debate with people. In a way we are adding seats because a lot of the seats we have now people don’t want to buy. The renovated stadium’s new seating and its sight lines are going to be so much better. Right now, for example, it’s really hard to sell a ticket to people in the north end zone or on the east side. After the project is complete, both sides are going to have the same elevation; the sight lines are going to be the same. There won’t be a bad seat in the stadium. Every seat will be brand new. The university says the project will cost $25 million. Is that fundraising goal reachable? Yes. It will be challenging, it’s much higher than anything we‘ve done before, but it’s doable. And I think that first gift — Mr. [Jack] Gillingham’s $5 million gift — has just really ignited the possibilities. I think one of the biggest hurdles in trying to make this happen is for people to really believe that it can happen. But Mr. Gillingham’s gift really gives everybody a sense of comfort and confidence that, hey, we can do this. Not everybody is going to give a gift that large; we’re going to have all different levels and there’s going to be a way for everybody to participate. To be clear, this is strictly a private fundraising effort, with “additive” money, is that correct? Why can’t Eastern use any state funds or taxexempt bonds? Under state law, you can’t use state funds to build athletic facilities or for athletic operations, so we have to fundraise all of that. The [EWU] foundation is growing and is improved, but we don’t have the reserves in the foundation to issue bonds. Nor is the university in a situation where the bonding capacity is there for a project this large. People keep asking

24/7/365 CAMPUS USE

me, ‘Well, can we just raise 10 or 15 million and issue bonds for the rest?’ No, we need to raise $25 million. We can do this. And let’s go after it! At the kick-off news conference, you and coach [Aaron] Best talked about making Eastern a first-class, premier power in the Big Sky Conference. How does a renovated stadium help Eastern accomplish that goal? When we talk about labs and classrooms for our science programs — or for English, for history — you want to have labs and classrooms that give students everything that they need to be successful academically. Think of our stadium and other sports facilities as classrooms for our student athletes. If we can upgrade the stadium and continue to recruit the best kids, then we can continue to be a dominant power in the Big Sky Conference, which means that we can make a run at a National Championship every year. And that’s what we’re after.

putting in the iconic red turf. Some people are saying it again: ‘EWU will never pull this off.’ We can do anything we set out to do. Why not us? We can do the same things the Montana’s and Montana State’s, the Idaho’s, the Cal Removing and relocating the track is also part of the plan. Does this State Davis’s do. Just maybe a little different way. We have some real send any kind of message that football is more important than other advantages because of our mentality; the amount of loyalty our coaches sports at Eastern? and kids have to this program. But we can That’s a step forward for the track. That’s be the very best, and I think building this an improvement for our track program. Right venue is a very public show of our level of I think one of the now, because of the permanent seating in the commitment to all of our sports, to being at biggest hurdles in trying end zone, when you host a track meet here, the highest level in the Big Sky Conference. you cannot see the kids coming around the last to make this happen is for curve. Our two largest teams, our track team and As the athletic director, anything else you people to really believe our football team — our two largest groups of would say to people who read this story student athletes — they have to practice in the about Eastern’s vision on this project? that it can happen. same facility. So, the sand pits are covered when We need everybody to come back and there’s a football game, the football players slip help. For a long, long time this has been a on it, the track athletes can’t leave their equipment out there to practice at very inexpensive ticket here. We need to grow up a little bit, we need any time, so they need their own spot. This is going to be a huge advantage to mature. But if we all come together — with some lead gifts like Mr. to our track program. Gillingham has done — if we all come together and give what we can, everybody will have a lot to be proud of. What do you say to those who believe football has an outsized The one venue that has more impact on public image — in really influence on Eastern athletics? getting alumni, future students, current students and everybody The only team that brings us the revenue to help us expand our together — is that stadium. Everybody understands that we are here resources is football. So is it a priority? Sure. At the same time we’re for our kids, to help them graduate, get degrees and have careers. But working very hard to build an athletic department that's excellent in all there has to be campus life in order to attract people to come, in order of our 14 sports. To do that you’ve got to have your scholarships in place, to get people to come back. you’ve got to have your facilities in place, and you’ve got to be able to If we can strengthen our traditions our support for each other will hire the best coaches. In our situation, the more successful football is grow, our presence in the community will grow, and we will differentiate the better it is for all those other sports. ourselves from other universities. Eastern will become an even more special place. The equity of your degree will grow. Athletics does not Over the years people have said Eastern can’t do this or that; from compete with academics. Athletics is here to raise the rest of the having a Division 1 football program and joining the Big Sky to university up. FALL/WINTER 2019





hat does it mean to be an Eagle4Life? At its most basic, it means simply having had the good sense to enroll in, and earn a degree from, Eastern Washington University. On a deeper level, of course, it means living and working in a way that personifies Eastern’s core values: service and sacrifice, inspiration and purpose, fairness and decency. This year’s honorees at EWU’s annual Alumni Awards Gala, held May 17 at the Spokane Convention Center, are exemplars of what it means to truly excel as a lifelong Eagle. James “Jamie” Wolff, a prominent friend and benefactor to EWU, is the recipient of our Lifetime Achievement award. Wolff is an attorney and real estate developer who, in addition to his tireless support for Eastern, has spent his professional life working to build a better Spokane region. Robert Clark , our honoree for Exceptional Military Service, served with distinction during some of the darkest days of the Vietnam War then returned home to amass a stellar record of accomplishment as a senior executive with AT&T. Tai Harden-Moore, this year’s Alum of Service award honoree, is one of Portland, Oregon’s most courageous and inspirational leaders in the ongoing struggle against injustice and inequality. O u r In s p i r a t i o n a l Yo u n g Al u m , Kyla Evans , used her service as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi as a

Jamie Wolff at his office in Spokane.

springboard for her current work promoting health, wellness and social justice among underserved populations here in the Pacific Northwest. And, finally, the 2019 Eagle4Life Spirit award went to Brian Patterson, an EWU booster whose dedication to enhancing the gameday experience for students has long represented the epitome of Eagle pride. “It’s an honor to shine a light on the unique journeys of some phenomenal Eags and the powerful contributions they make every day,” says Lisa Cargill, director of alumni relations at EWU. “Showcasing these stories reminds us all of the power Eagle grit, grace, gratitude and greatness can have on the world long after our time at Eastern.”

Leadership and Generosity Jamie Wolff never thought he’d become an Eagle. After graduating from Lewis and Clark High School, he headed to the University of Washington, intent on being a Husky. But after his first year at UW, Wolff says he

felt “disconnected,” and returned home to Liberty Lake, Washington. That summer he took a shot at summer school at EWU, where he met several members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity chapter, the “Pikes.” They clicked, and he soon found himself a full-time student at Eastern. Wolff thrived at EWU, and today he describes the university as “the fertile soil he needed for roots and growth.” After graduating in 1969, Wolff took a job with his uncle’s real estate firm in Spokane. He also attended law school at Gonzaga, graduating in 1974. As his professional life blossomed, so did Wolff’s commitment to service. As a member, for example, of Rotary International he advanced our region’s global ties by hosting students from several foreign countries. Over the years he also served on the Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce and has been a member of EWU’s Foundation Board. Perhaps most consequentially, Wolff has remained active with the Pikes. He served, first, as president of the fraternity’s



Tai Harden-Moore and her daughter, Leia.

Northwest region, and then as a member, and later chairman, of its national housing commission. During his term as chair, Wolff traveled the nation with other commission members creating lifelong friendships while helping fellow Pikes deal with the complexities of purchasing, selling, building, leasing, financing and maintaining fraternity chapter houses on college campuses. More recently, Wolff and his fraternity brothers have enjoy spending time together, as Wolff puts it, “at their regular luncheon on the second Tuesday of every month for humor, caring, sharing and fun.” Among the subjects discussed over lunch are giving back to Eastern, a task at which Wolff and the EWU Pike alumni have excelled. Wolff credits a friendship with Carol King, former director of library engagement at EWU, with alerting him and his brothers of the need to help support the library. In response, Wolff rallied the Pikes to raise more than $250,000



for the library's special collections fund. They were surprised, he says, when another Pike alum also contributed a substantial piece of real property to the EWU Foundation. Later the same group established a scholarship in the memory of their fraternity brother, Randy Van Turner, an Eastern alumnus who never returned home from his service in Vietnam. For his part, Wolff says he’s been happy to give back to the institution that gave so much to him. “I never imagined how my choice to attend summer school at Eastern would enrich my life in so many ways, and for so long,” he says.

Advocating for Inclusion As founder and CEO of Moore Consultants, LLC, Tai Harden-Moore is helping organizational leaders better define, refine and achieve their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. A breast cancer survivor,

she is also a passionate advocate for breast cancer awareness and improved health outcomes for all. Harden-Moore grew up as a self-described “city girl” in Seattle, but transitioning to student life in a small college town turned out to be surprisingly easy. “From the moment I stepped onto Eastern’s campus, I knew I was where I was supposed to be,” she says. “I made great friendships and have so many fond memories from my time in Cheney. One of the things that really stood out was that EWU was the first school that I attended — university or otherwise — where I just felt like a student. Not a black student, not a student of color, not a first-generation student. Just a student.” After graduating from Eastern, HardenMoore earned a law degree from Florida A&M University. Even with her demanding course load, as a student she helped to lead an organization working to empower underrepresented law students throughout the South and Puerto Rico. Now a resident of Portland, Oregon, Harden-Moore has continued to serve. She is currently co-chair of the Portland African American Leadership Forum’s Education Committee, a role that allows her to play a prominent role in tackling issues of access and inequality in Portland’s schools. In addition, through her teaching, writing and public-speaking engagements, she has tirelessly worked to push for policies that will level the educational playing field. Harden-Moore was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 at age 31. The cancer responded to therapy, but returned in late 2017. She has reacted by publicly sharing her story, particularly within the African American community. Too often, she notes, African-American women do not receive proper diagnostic screenings and, if eventually diagnosed with cancer, fail to follow up on potentially life-saving treatments. Harden-Moore is determined to use her experience to change that. Her steadfast resolve to keep giving, even when faced with great personal adversity, made Harden-Moore an easy choice for this

year’s Alum of Service Award. “It is humbling to have my undergraduate alma mater, a place I left as a bright-eyed and naive young adult, to look at me now and say, ‘Tai, you’ve done well,’” HardenMoore says. “For a little black girl from West Seattle, one who once had a teacher tell her that she would never reach her dreams, this honor means more than I can really put into words.”

A Lifetime of Valor and Distinction On the day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Bob Clark, third-year EWU football standout and newly appointed Brigade Commander for the Eastern Cadet

Bob and Maureen Clark, then and now.

Corps, was conducting drill exercises in Cheney with the entire 800-member student corps. As news of the tragedy trickled in to Clark’s ROTC commanders, they took him aside and informed him that they wanted him to share the news with the cadets. That his superiors would place that level of trust and confidence in Clark speaks to the strength of character and dedication to duty that would serve him well a short time later in Vietnam, where he was eventually awarded numerous citations,

including the U.S. Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Gallantry Cross and a Bronze Star. Clark was born in Seattle. A natural athlete, his contributions to both the football and baseball teams at O’Dea High School earned him scholarships to play both sports at Eastern Washington State College, as Eastern was known at the time. “More than a dream come true,” Clark says. In those days, all freshmen and sophomore men were required to participate in ROTC. Clark needed little encouragement to serve. “The values being taught at that time,” he recalls, “were preparing me and many others to use them as our guide for the decisions we were making on a daily basis. Learning to be ready to serve our country and its citizens was becoming more important with the

Vietnam War looming.” Helping him stay focused was Maureen Sullivan, an undergraduate from Spokane that Clark met when both were new to campus. Clark and Maureen have now been married for 56 years. Clark completed his active duty service in January 1970 with the rank of captain. He then began what became an extraordinarily successful career in telecommunications. By the time he retired as AT&T’s Pacific Region president, Clark was responsible for leading an organization of 4,000 employees that generated some $2 billion in annual revenue. Such business success notwithstanding, Clark says receiving recognition for his military service is particularly gratifying — especially since it was a great chance for him to connect with members of today’s EWU Cadet Corps. “I felt humbled and honored to receive the award, especially with eight members



Left: Kyla Evans with students in Malawi. Below: Evans with family members as she wraps up her EWU basketball career on Senior Day in 2010.

of my family in the audience,” Clark says. “Additionally, I had the opportunity, after the presentation, to talk directly with the cadets present at the gala. We mutually shared the importance of leadership, responsibility and military values. They are a great group of men and women who are making a difference at EWU.”

Stellar Athlete, Service Champion


yla Evans is another athlete whose

spirit of service transcends the playing field — or, in her case, the basketball court. A star forward at her hometown high school in Brewster, Washington, Evans’s four years as an Eagle were characterized by record-setting three-point shooting, tenacious defense and stellar academics. “It was a lot of work,” Evans admits. “It required a lot of juggling that, in the end, was well worth it.” After graduation in 2010, she soon put her


Eagle spirit to use in the service of others. As a volunteer in the U.S. Peace Corps, Evans was dispatched to the southeastern African nation of Malawi, a beautiful but underdeveloped country with a long track record of poor health and education outcomes for its citizens. Evans’ job title in Malawi designated her as a “community health advisor," one that would focus primarily on AIDS and malaria mitigation. It soon became clear to her that harnessing the capacity and vision of Malawi’s women and girls was key to making progress in both areas. Evans eventually proved extraordinarily successful in making that happen, so much so that she was asked to extend her two-year service commitment by a year. Virginia Palmer, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi, said in a letter that Evans immediately impressed her as a “smart, driven and natural leader.” Palmer recalled that she and Evans first met at a “View From the Village” event

organized by the embassy, where Evans eloquently shared with high-ranking attendees the harsh realities of gender violence in rural Africa. Among the visiting dignitaries was Jill Biden, wife of the former vice president. After completing her extended service, Evans enrolled in the social work program at the University of Washington, where she is now a graduate student. True to form, being a full-time scholar has not slowed down her commitment to real-world service. Evans, for example, has established a social-justice consulting firm that is working on wellness issues involving Native people in Seattle. She is also employed as a research assistant with the Seattle office of the Human Rights Defense Center, a national non-profit that advocates for the incarcerated. Through it all, Evans says, her experience at Eastern ­— particularly the emphasis coach Wendy Schuller placed on engaging with community and volunteerism — has stuck with her. “It was [at EWU] that I began to really delve into questions about justice, equality and privilege,” Evans says. “These questions continue to drive me professionally as I approach ten years working in organizations committed to promoting equitable access to

Left to right: Brian Patterson with daughter, Ashley '19, wife, Tina, and son, Erik '15.

healthcare and other basic needs for all people. They are also deeply personal as they serve as the foundation for my core values that guide the decisions I make every day.”

Fighting for Flight Club


n any given weekend in Spokane, Brian Patterson, EWU booster extraordinaire, can be readily identified by the “Eagle Kind of Guy” hat on his head, the Eagle polo on his back, and the Eagle license plates on his Eagle-red truck. Such devotion also extends to his professional life, where Patterson uses his skills and expertise as Lamar Outdoor Advertising’s sales manager to help Eastern promote its academic and athletic excellence far and wide. Back in 1983, when Patterson was looking for a collegiate home, becoming an Eagle seemed a no-brainer: his father, Denny ’64, had studied marketing and management at

the university and loved it. Patterson was determined to follow his dad into the same field. Throughout his time at EWU, Patterson bled Eagle red. But when his kids became Eastern undergrads, he noticed the powerful home court advantage he’d experienced at basketball games was slipping. As a proud Eagle parent, dedicated alumnus and marketing professional, he knew the university’s athletes deserved full-throttled support, and he never stopped pondering how to turn up the crowd volume for Eastern hoops. Just over five years ago, inspiration struck. Why not take a more proactive approach to boosting interest in the Flight Club, Eastern’s mostly underwhelming student cheering section that he had helped to form a few years earlier? In a 2015 article in this magazine, Patterson described the challenge he faced. “The idea for Flight Club [had] been there for a couple of years but it never really took off,” he told us.

“I made some T-shirts a season or two ago, but the students just sat. They didn’t seem to know what to do. I’ve been at good games when we’d hit three 3-pointers in a row, and the whole student section was sitting down texting.” As is sometimes the case, one good hire changed everything. At Patterson’s urging, former collegiate and professional mascot Brad Bishop ’12 agreed to become Flight Club’s official spark plug. At home games Bishop became a locus of liveliness, passing out swag, leading cheers and chants, and generally bringing the mayhem. Flight Club, so to speak, took off. These days, Patterson’s love for Eastern extends well beyond the confines of Reese Court. As one of Patterson’s own boosters recently put it: “Brian transforms lives and expands opportunities for individuals, even as he pushes fans and alumni to be the ‘Next Great Eagle,’ displaying their EWU education with pride.”



On the road with Eastern magazine Where will Eastern magazine be spotted next? Send us your best photo of you with our latest issue! Include some information about yourself with your submission. We may not be able to publish every submission. Extras will be posted on Eastern magazine’s website. Ready to submit? Send via email to: easternmagazine@ewu.edu. Or mail to Eastern magazine, 102 Hargreaves Hall, Cheney, WA 99004.

3 2 [1] Carrie Gisse ’98 at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Gisse, a violinist with the Tucson Repertory Orchestra, was traveling as part of the orchestra’s Musical Connection Japan Tour. [2] Michael Duncan ’03, and his wife, Alison Costa, on their honeymoon in Porto, Portugal. The Dom Luís I Bridge, designed by Gustave Eiffel, is visible in the background.


[3] Christian Minard ’18 in Honolulu, Hawaii, with the Diamond Head volcanic tuff cone rising above the white sands of Waikiki Beach.


[4] John Nelson ’90 stands on a balcony of the Heidelberg Castle, a partially restored Renaissance palace perched high above Germany’s Neckar River Valley. [5] Nicolette Stanfill ’10, ’12 and Patrick Spanner ’12 began their married life together this summer in Pasco, Washington.

6 7


[6] Aricka Smith ’17 poses behind the “B” in “Barcino,” a work of art by Joan Brossa. The sculpture stands at the foot of the Roman Wall in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. [7] Dan Obenchain ’79, ’82 (right) and his brother, Greg ’79, at last year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York.



[8] Allison Nicole Suarez ’09, Alexander Suarez, Jr. ’05 (center) and Eric Frank Suarez ’07 at the start of the 200 mile Providence Hood to Coast Relay race in Oregon. Mount Hood, Oregon’s highest peak, looms behind them. [9] Steve Asplund ’84 “holding up” Pisa’s iconic leaning tower during an Italian journey that included a sojourn in Tuscany.




CLASS NOTES 2010s ’19 James Marshall, BM music performance, won a position with the Spokane Symphony Orchestra. He joins 14 other Eastern alumni, including his parents John and Lynne, who perform in the SSO. ’19 Traci Meidl, BA experiential learning, was named as one of the Spokesman Review’s Inland Northwest Women of the Year, one of three EWU alumna and one student so honored. Meidl is the highest-ranking woman in the Spokane Police Department and precinct captain of the department’s southside service area. The paper cited not only her leadership skills, but also her “proactive, community-oriented policing” that has helped the SPD to improve engagement and build trust throughout the city. ’19 Katelyn Hougen, BA business management, accepted a position as a customer service specialist with Brand It Productions. ’18 Katie Enders, BA history, was the firstprize winner in a “latte art throwdown” at Indaba Coffee in Spokane. The event, held earlier this year, was a benefit for Cup of Cool Water, a nonprofit providing services for homeless youth. ’16 Joey Gunning, BA economics, in August was named Business Growth Coordinator for Greater Spokane Inc. The position is one that will involve working to ensure continued economic success in the Inland Northwest region. ’16 Maura Ruiz, MSW social work, was named as one of the Spokesman Review’s Inland Northwest Women of the Year, one of three EWU alumna and one student so honored. Ruiz, whom the paper noted had “endured stinging poverty, prejudice and personal tragedy,” was cited for overcoming these barriers to become a college prep adviser at Spokane’s Lewis and Clark High School, where she works to advocate for disadvantaged students who hope to advance their educations.



’15 Sean Hopf, BA education, this fall was named principal of the Willow Public School, a tuition-free public charter school located in Walla Walla, Washington. ’14 Tara Clemons, MS occupational therapy, has joined the team of occupational therapy services providers at Cornerstone Physical Therapy & Aquatics in Sandpoint, Idaho. ’11 Kumiko Love, BA economics, in October appeared on the Good Morning America television show to share advice on how viewers might reduce or eliminate their consumer debt. Her YouTube channel, The Budget Mom, boasts more than 63,000 subscribers. ’10 Geoff Baily, BA accounting, and Kelsy Bendtsen, ’10 were included among the honorees on Wenatchee Valley Business World’s “30 Under 35” list. The list recognizes the accomplishments of young community leaders from across Washington’s north-central region. ’10 Sarah Lyman, MBA business administration, earlier this year was named executive director of the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, a San Diego, California-based organization that provides grants to nonprofits working to boost health care access for those in need. ’10 Katie Wesselman-Tolley, BA finance and marketing, earlier this year received the Inlander’s 2019 Peirone Prize in recognition of her work with Lutheran Community Services Northwest, where she serves as both an employee who manages the charity’s downtown Spokane building and as a volunteer.

2000s ’09 Matt Roberts, MFA creative writing, has published a new collection of poems, A River Once More, with MoonPath Press in Tillamook, Oregon. He teaches English at Pierce College, Puyallup.

’08 Emily Fisher, BA journalism, married Nicolas Morales on May 25 in Spokane Valley. The couple live in Port Orchard, Washington, where Fisher, a professional photographer, is based. Nick, an Army veteran, is a mechanical engineer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. ’08 Tammy Fleiger, BA business, was promoted to senior vice president of operations at STCU. ’05 Mike Sparber, BA business administration, in July was named director of Spokane County Detention Services. He had served as interim director since February. ’04 Sarah Coomber, MFA creative writing, has published The Same Moon, a memoir, with TouchPoint Press. The book recounts the “story of what happened after [Coomber] abandoned what seemed to be a wrecked young-adult life to run off to Japan.” ’03, ’05 Michael Finley, BA, MA history, in October was named tribal liaison for the Washington State Historical Society. As liaison, he will lead outreach to Washington’s tribal nations, seeking advice and input aimed at advancing the society’s programmatic initiatives and exhibitions. ’03 Jacquelynn Waller, BA international affairs, was married to Timothy Zuroff, a Washington State University alumnus, in August. ’02 Richard Lentz, BA business, was promoted to vice president of lending at STCU.

1990s ’98 Franklin Day, BA psychology, in July was named director of student support services for the Cheney Public Schools. ’98 Scott Rabe, BA business, was promoted to vice president of digital development at STCU.


In a Paradise Under Pressure, an Eagle Markets Unity


he Hawaiian word l kahi, roughly defined, means “balanced, unified and harmonious.” For Michelle Horton ’10, and others who call the Aloha State home, the term is often deployed to describe the sort of benevolent, communitarian way of living that they and their neighbors aspire to perfect. Horton is from Kailua, a small city on Oahu’s Windward Coast. In recent years her hometown, thanks in part to social media shout-outs and celebrity stopovers, has earned a place on the short list of Hawaii’s most visit-worthy spots. Horton says such a distinction, while hardly a civic liability, has recently created a veritable tsunami of growth-related tensions that are endangering the l kahi vibe. “Hawaii's economy relies predominantly on tourism, and so naturally there will be some unintended consequences that come as a result,” Horton says. It’s not tourism per se, she says, that's the problem. “It’s more of everyone's inability to compromise that has contributed to the deterioration of the l kahi spirit.” A 2019 report by researchers from the University of Hawaii agreed, finding that, in general, the state and its visitors have been “negatively affected by rapid growth, diminishing economic contributions, and the lack of a comprehensive tourism management plan.” Horton, who focused on the effects of globalization while studying political science at Eastern, says her own research as a graduate student at the University of Hawaii indicated that such issues are particularly acute in places like Kailua, where rising rents and strained infrastructure have put people on edge. Her answer? More l kahi. “One of the most interesting findings from my research was that despite the conflict taking place, there was also an underlying, shared desire to establish a more balanced and harmonious dynamic within the community,” she says. In an effort to further leverage that dynamic, Horton has founded a new community market that she hopes will “be

Above: Mediterranean fare at the Lokahi Kailua Market. Below: Market founder Michelle Horton with two helpers on the market's opening day in September.

a place where we leave our differences aside and come together to experience the talents of others, support local farmers, health and wellness enthusiasts, and foodies.” Named, quite naturally, the L kahi Kailua Market, it has already attracted a healthy cohort of vendors and visitors during a “soft opening” in September. Its grand opening celebration was Dec. 2. “The whole idea is that everyone in life has a gift, and it is our ‘kuleana’ — the Hawaiian word for responsibility — to share our gift in a positive way to uplift others,” Horton says. “In the short time in which we've been in operation, the changes we've observed have been incredible. It’s a true blessing to see so many people coming together and, even if only for a moment in time, we work together in a harmonious and positive way.” – Charles E. Reineke




’98 Frank Scalise, BA history, has published his twenty-fifth novel, Charlie 316. The book, a “police procedural” set in Spokane, was written under Scalise’s pen name, Frank Zafiro, and coauthored by Colin Conway, ’95. ’96 Brent W. Johnston, BA business administration, in September was named president of Milestone Scientific Inc. a leading developer of computerized drug instruments providing painless and precise injections. ’96 Thaynan Knowlton, MS clinical psychology, in May was named superintendent of the Clarkston [Washington] School District. ’96 Kyle Rydell, BA education, this summer was named assistant superintendent for the West Valley School District in Spokane Valley, Washington. ’95, ’78 Ron Cox, MEd, BA education, an EWU basketball legend, in October was inducted into the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame.

’93 Leroy Eadie, BA Urban and Regional Planning, retired this February after serving for a decade as director of Spokane Parks. Among his many notable achievements was leading the $64-million rehabilitation of Spokane's Riverfront Park.

’83 Kathy Gerla, BA business education, in January was named Bellevue [Washington] City Attorney. She previously served as a senior deputy in the county prosecutor's office.

’92 Bradley Melton, BA education, in September was appointed by Idaho Gov. Brad Little to represent the Clearwater Region on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

’82 Kent Meredith, BA education, and ’82 Kathy Meredith, BA education, the couple, both recently retired music teachers from Spokane-area school districts, sold their home of 27 years to live full-time on a 42foot catamaran.



’86 Michael Peterson, BA interdisciplinary studies, produced and directed the documentary Dammed to Extinction. The film examines how water impoundments along the lower Snake River have contributed to drastic declines in Chinook salmon populations. Because the Southern Resident pods of killer whales depend on Chinook for sustenance, the film argues, they too now face extinction.

’79, ’80 Carol Clupny, BS, MS, communication sciences and disorders, has published The Ribbon of Road Ahead — One Woman’s Remarkable Journey With Parkinson’s Disease with Ultreia Books. The memoir details her inspirational strategies “for lifting herself, and others around her, up into the light.”

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Scholar and Mentor For more than half a century, Hank Steiner created a lasting legacy of service.


enry-York “Hank” Steiner, a revered professor of English at EWU, passed away Sept. 6, 2019. He was 87. Professor Steiner was born in Chicago, but moved with his parents to Portland, Oregon as a child. After high school he returned to the Midwest to enroll at Grinnell College, a private liberal arts institution in Iowa known for both its rigorous academics and commitment to social justice. During the Korean War, Steiner served as a military policeman before returning to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Grinnell in 1956. After earning a master’s degree from Yale University in 1957, he returned to his alma mater to begin what became a long, distinguished career in academia. After two years at Grinnell he accepted a faculty position in English at the University of Oregon, where he also completed a doctorate in 1963. Another stint on the faculty at Grinnell followed, before, in 1968, Steiner was asked to become an associate professor and dean of undergraduate studies at EWU. During his years at Eastern he earned tenure as a full professor and also served for a time as interim director of the University Honors Program. Long after he reached the age when most people trade in the daily grind of working for the relaxation of retirement, Steiner continue to challenge and enrich his students. By the time he finally stepped away from the classroom in June 2019, he had spent 61 years as a professor, some 50 of which were at EWU. Steiner leaves behind an admirable legacy of service. As a faculty member and administrator, he helped to create and nurture many new programs, including American Indian Studies, Africana Studies, Chicana/o/x Studies, University Honors and Environmental Science. He taught graduate and undergraduate courses in subjects ranging from eastern religion and J.R.R. Tolkien to classical poetics and rhetoric. Outside of the university he served as an stalwart ski patrol member and director, a member of the board of directors for Expo ’74 and the Spokane World's Fair, chairman of Spokane Community Action, and chair of the Washington State Folklife Council. “I’ve been going to class for 80 years, ever since I was seven years old,” Steiner told a reporter for the Cheney Free Press at a “martini bash” — his favorite cocktail — held on the eve of his retirement. “I’ll remember how much fun I had. I think I will be remembered as long as there are people who remember me.”

One of those people will be Jamie Neely, an EWU journalism professor who, at the martini fête, told the Free Press that few professors at Eastern were more well-loved. “He’s generous and kind and smart and funny. He’s been a joy to work with.” Another is Jessica Boyer, one of Steiner’s former students who is now a lecturer in the university’s Department of Communication Studies. After his death she told Inside EWU, that “he was a shining example of how, when you join EWU, you join a family. When I came back to the university to teach he was right there to help support and mentor me.” After learning of his death, Logan Greene, EWU’s English Department chair, was also moved to memorialize her longtime colleague and friend. She did so with a poem that reads, in part: “…Rejoice with him a lifetime lived in joy. To Hades now and dread Persephone We give this teacher, sage, philosopher. Beloved of the gods, this hero rests.”



IN MEMORIAM 2000s ’03, ’05 Loreen M. Irving, age 69, died March 31, 2019 ’10 Kathleen “Kate” Murray, age 34, died Oct. 17, 2018 ’11, ’15 Alfredo LLamedo, age 60, died Sept. 15, 2019 ’11 Abe Ferris, age 73, died Oct. 11, 2019 ’14 Benjamin Vard Smith, age 28, died Dec. 8, 2018 ’14 Jeffrey Sunford, age 39, died Sept. 29, 2019

1990s ’92, ’94 Max Emmanuel Josquin, age 54, died Nov. 28, 2018 ’93 Lori Breeden, age 51, died March 5, 2019

’72 Diane Dolan, age 69, died Aug. 5, 2019 ’72 Tom MacNaughton, age 70, died April 26, 2019 ’75 Mark Keefer, age 71, died April 18, 2019 ’77 Roger Lee, age 52, died April 23, 2019 ’78 Sandra Jorgensen, age 65, died Oct. 27, 2019 ’79 Randy Wellman, age 62, died Nov. 9, 2019


’83 Linda Brincken, age 68, died Oct. 8, 2019 ’85, ’91 Lindell Reason, age 68, died Oct. 21, 2019 ’85 Scott Sanderson, age 67, died March 28, 2019

1970s ’70 Sharon Larkins, age 70, died Sept. 7, 2019 ’71 David A. Lindeblad, age 70, died May 17, 2019


1930s ’39 Virginia Daly, age 101, died June 18, 2019

George Berdis, died Aug. 28, 2019. He retired in 1998 after serving nine years in custodial services.

’62 Jerry Burroughs, age 81, died June 4, 2019

’64, ’74 Michel Hess, age 75, died Jan. 6, 2018

’82 Stan Soash, age 66, died Oct. 13, 2019

’58 John L. Hauschild, age 84, died April 8, 2019

’62 Mary Reed-Vance, age 79, died Sept. 11, 2019

’93 Stacy Rizzo, age 49, died June 3, 2019


’58, ’67 Frank “Ike” Cummings, age 84, died Oct. 17, 2019

Faculty and Staff

’63 Mark Helt, age 74, died April 22, 2019

’95 Marla W. Leander, age 74, died June 19, 2019

’52 Dorothy Nell H. Cangiano, age 87, died Nov. 2, 2017

’60 Donald L. Rizzuto, age 82, March 2, 2019

’93 John Kaminski, age 50, died May 25, 2019

’95 Peter Dungan, age 66, died Oct. 2, 2019

’51 David Harrington, age 89, died April 16, 2019

’64 Mary Jane Rehn, age 93, died Sept. 7, 2019 ’65 Larry Liberty, age 78, died April 23, 2019 ’65 Nancy Russell, age 75, died Aug. 21, 2019 ’65 Ronald Spears, age 80, died Dec. 27, 2018 ’66 David Ludi, age 75, died March 06, 2019 ’67 Mark Helt, age 74, died April 22, 2019 ’68 Robert “Bob” Tuck, age 74, died Oct. 20, 2019 ’69 Douglas Carter, age 72, died Aug. 12, 2019

1950s ’50 Kenneth Ledgerwood, age 92, died Oct. 15, 2019

James (Jim) Dolliver, died Aug. 8, 2019. He served as director of general academic services. Paul Eide, died May 21, 2019. He served as an instructor in English as a second language. Ron Hall, died Sept. 6, 2019. He served for 28 years before retiring in 1993 as director of internal auditing. Kevin Hills, died June 18, 2019. He served as director of EWU Disability Services. James Hoffman, died May 16, 2019. He served for six years as senior vice president for academic affairs and provost before returning to teaching and research as chair of the Department of Geology. Robert Neubauer, died Nov. 3 2019. An emeritus professor of social work, he served for 27 years on the Eastern faculty. Henry-York “Hank” Steiner, died Sept. 6, 2019. See story on Page 45. Darnell “Buster” VanCara, died July 25, 2019. He served for 22 years as a trucker in transportation services.


Plate LXI from Reports of Explorations and Surveys, to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, published in 1855-60, by Isaac Stevens. This early image of the Palouse landscape, made by a member of Stevens’ expedition, was part of a larger federal effort to depict the Northwest as a welcoming place for settlement and economic development. Stevens, who became the first territorial governor of Washington, was also instrumental in the forcible removal of Native tribes from lands they and their ancestors had inhabited for thousands of years. Visit the original lithograph, as well as the whole of the Reports’ 12 volumes, in the Archives and Special Collections section of Eastern’s JFK Library. Image courtesy of Steven Bingo, digital projects archivist at EWU.



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Eastern Washington University

Giving Joy Day Friday, April 3

Giving Joy Day is moving to celebrate Eastern's birthday! There will be lots of ways you can give joy in April, including volunteering alongside the EWU Young Professionals Network and EWU Alumni Association for our annual service project. Keep an eye out for details and mark your calendars now! Here’s a hint, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and dig into helping others - we may even get a little dirty. Visit us at givingjoyday.org

Alumni Awards Friday, May 15

Plan to join us as we recognize five outstanding Eagles who are setting the bar high and serve as a reminder of what a powerful springboard an Eastern education can be. Make plans to attend with friends and colleagues, and consider supporting the EWU Alumni Association by purchasing a corporate table. Nominations will open in January, so be thinking about outstanding Eagles to nominate!

Eagle Family Homecoming and 50-Year Reunion for classes of ’70 & ’71




Oct. 21-25

Get ready to reconnect with classmates, visit your favorite campus hangouts and attend special events. We will host a 50-Year Reunion for the classes of ’70 and ’71, and Eastern Football will play Weber State University on Saturday, Oct. 24 at Roos Field. Make your plans to come to campus now, and tell your friends!

Learn more, and register for events, at alumni.ewu.edu/events.

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