As Eastern Illinois University continues to move forward in its vitalization initiative, it will do so with a new face among its leadership team.
Jay D. Gatrell, a professor of geography and environmental studies and vice provost for faculty affairs and research at Bellarmine University (Louisville, Ky.), has been chosen as EIU’s next provost and vice president for academic affairs. His appointment goes into effect July 1, 2017.
"I look forward to collaborating with the faculty on strategic initiatives as the leadership and entire community begin the important process of charting and implementing new pathways for student success,” Gatrell said. “Most importantly, I am excited to learn more about EIU's high quality academic programs and ongoing efforts to strengthen and enhance the campus experience for everyone--students, staff, faculty, Charleston and the region."
Gatrell was chosen from among 30 applicants in a search that began in 2016 after Blair Lord, provost and vice president for academic affairs since August 2001, announced his intent to retire at the end of June 2017.
“I was very pleased with the number of strong candidates who expressed interest in becoming Eastern’s top academic leader,” said EIU President David Glassman. “Jay stood out among the group not only for his outstanding professional experience and achievements, but also for his high level of energy and personable approach to leadership.”
Gatrell expressed enthusiasm about his new opportunity and said both he and his family look forward to joining the campus and Charleston communities this summer.
“Especially my daughter as she went to a cheer camp at EIU last year; she loved Charleston,” he said.
On a more personal level, Gatrell said he’s “very excited about the prospects of joining Eastern’s learner-centered campus as it is a recognized leader in undergraduate education with a faculty that is truly committed to outstanding student outcomes.
“EIU is also an institution that excels at graduate education and as such, the institution resonated with my experience and values," he said.
It was the enthusiasm of Eastern’s faculty, staff and students, as well as the “care they showed for the mission and the important work that happens on campus everyday” that sealed the deal, Gatrell continued.
“Likewise, I was impressed by President Glassman's vision, the entire leadership team and the ongoing strategic vitalization efforts that are advancing the institution by focusing on the student learning experience and serving the region and state."
Gatrell, an economic geographer with interests in human environment interactions, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Eastern Michigan University, as well as graduate degrees in geography from the University of Toledo and West Virginia University (Ph.D.). Prior to joining Bellarmine, which is an independent Catholic university, he held appointments at Indiana State University and Wright State University. He was selected and served as an ACE Fellow at Bellarmine in 2012-13.
As EIU’s provost, Gatrell will serve as the chief academic officer of the university with responsibility for academic and senior-level internal leadership. The provost serves as the primary representative for the president in his absence, working with and coordinating the team of senior staff who are responsible for achieving the university’s established major goals identified by the president and the board of trustees.
In addition, the provost supervises and guides the work of the senior university-wide academic staff and of the school-based deans.