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Greetings Alumni! I hope this newsletter finds you all well. As I moved into the chair’s office this past summer, I reflected on the leaders that have come before me in the Department of Geology and Geography and the great things that have been accomplished by our programs. Recently, I came across newsletters dating back to 1972 and after reading through them, it is evident that the history of our department on the campus of Eastern Illinois is a long and distinguished one. Geographer Annie Weller began her career in 1903, just four years after the founding of the school. Ruby Harris and Rose Zeller were outstanding faculty members that joined the staff in the 1920s and 1930s. The first newsletter that I found had a welcome message written by Dalias Price, long time geographer and weather enthusiast at Eastern Illinois. In his message to alums at the time, he talked about how the department recently moved into the space that we currently occupy today. He described the view of Old Main from his office and even though the trees have grown a bit in 50 years, that view is still amazing today. As I sit in the same office as Dr. Price, I am also reminded of Dr. Alan Baharlou who hired me 21 years ago. Dr. Baharlou had a passion for this department and University that was unmatched. He would often tell the stories of how he decorated the chair’s office and laid the carpet that still is in the office to this day. He would also remind all of us of just how lucky we are to be teaching in higher education and how great Eastern Illinois University is. Indeed, Dr. Baharlou was correct, we are all very lucky to have the honor to be educators at EIU and to impact our students’ lives every day. I’m sure that as you think back to your time at EIU, there are current or former faculty members you remember having a profound impact on your life and career.
This past year has seen some changes for the university and our department. Dr. Jay Gatrell, a geographer in our department was named President of Eastern Illinois University and began the role on July 1st. Dr. Diane Burns stepped down as chair of our department after 6 years of leadership at the end of June. Heather Todd began her duties as our office manager in late June. Through all the changes, some things remain the same. Our faculty and staff remain committed to providing quality educational experiences for our students and continuing to display excellence in the fields of teaching, research, and service. The department has continued the long tradition of providing research opportunities and field experiences for our students. Seven undergraduate students conducted independent research projects and three of them won URSCA grants for their work. Our faculty have been recognized by the university for their accomplishments. Dr. Jake Crandall was named the Faculty Laureate and gave an outstanding speech at the new student Convocation this fall. Dr. Diane Burns won the Luis Clay Mendez Award for her service to the University and Dr. Katie Lewandowski received a student impact grant that allowed her students to present their research at the regional GSA conference.
Homecoming is the weekend of October 6-8 this year. I hope that you can make it back to campus and visit us. Fall is a great time to visit Charleston and EIU. If you can’t make it for homecoming, please stop by the department the next time you are back in Charleston. It is always great to catch up with our former students and hear about your experiences after EIU. The Department of Geology and Geography has a great history and very promising future. I want to thank all of you for your support of the department. Donations from our alumni allow us to continue to support student research and field opportunities that enhance their education and prepare them to be professional in the field of Geology and Geography. Please stay in touch with us and let us know if there is anything we can do for you.
Hope to see you soon!