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EIU Media Relations

EIU announces its next President


Dr. Jay D. Gatrell to assume role in July following six years as EIU Provost

(Charleston, IL) -- In a combined announcement and celebration Friday afternoon at Eastern Illinois University, hundreds gathered in the University Ballroom to learn that Dr. Jay Gatrell was selected as its next President.

Joyce Madigan, chair of EIU’s Board of Trustees, took the podium just after 3 p.m. to provide brief remarks, thanking EIU employees and members of the community for their support. Madigan touched on the qualities that make EIU special, citing the relationships faculty and staff create with each other and with EIU students. She also highlighted the accessibility and opportunity EIU provides for all—including first-generation students and those comprising traditionally underrepresented groups.

“I’m delighted to share our absolute faith in the ability of Eastern Illinois University’s next President to lead our organization toward its most impressive future,” Madigan said before inviting Gatrell to address the celebratory audience.

Taking the podium to a roomful of applause, Gatrell demonstrated his excitement and appreciation to all those involved leading up to this moment.

“I am honored and truly privileged to have the opportunity to serve as Eastern Illinois University’s next President,” Gatrell said during his prepared remarks. He cited EIU’s recent and historical successes in providing students with signature learning experiences and student success efforts that helped to enhance EIU’s overall competitiveness.

“We have momentum, and the hard work of everyone in this room and across campus have made [that] possible,” Gatrell shared.

Gatrell went on to thank EIU’s trustees, the search committee, current EIU President David Glassman, his colleagues on President’s Council, and EIU’s “amazing staff and faculty.”

Since beginning his role as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs in early 2017, he has worked alongside his EIU colleagues in realizing a variety of dynamic achievements, including:

  • broad enrollment increases in first-time, full-time and graduate and international students
  • helping to secure millions in funding for various EIU programs and services
  • creating an undergraduate degree program within the new Gail & Richard Lumpkin School of Nursing
  • the development of EIU’s Illinois Innovation Network Hub in partnership with Lake Land College
  • securing state appropriation for a new science building
  • collaboratively designing and implementing a modern academic realignment that created two new Colleges
  • resourcing and creating the Center for Student Innovation to promote active learning models
  • proactively responding to Illinois’ K-12 teacher shortage and focusing on rural regional teaching opportunities

Gatrell noted that as a first-generation student himself, he is committed to the success of every learner, and is devoted to making an EIU higher education accessible and affordable for all. He also communicated his appreciation for shared governance, noting his experiences as a faculty member and administrator confirm that collaborative decision making, an engaged faculty, transparency, and shared responsibility are “central to the success of any academic community and an essential cornerstone of a healthy campus culture.”

“Simply put,” Gatrell concluded, “I believe in EIU—and I am proud to call Charleston home.”

Prior to stepping into the Vice President position at EIU, Gatrell was a professor of geography and environmental studies and Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Research at Bellarmine University (Louisville, Ky.), where he demonstrated his expertise as an economic geographer with interests in human environment interactions. Prior to joining Bellarmine, an independent Catholic university, he held appointments at Indiana State University (Terre Haute) and Wright State University (Dayton, Ohio). He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science (1994) from Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti), a master of science degree in geography (1996) from the University of Toledo (Ohio), and a Ph.D. in Geography (1999) from West Virginia University (Morgantown).

Gatrell is an active runner, and serves in various community and state organizations. He resides in Charleston with his wife, Kriss, with whom he shares five adult children. He will assume the role of EIU’s President beginning July 1, 2023.

For more information about EIU, and to learn more about its growing assortment of programs and services, visit the university’s website at, or call EIU’s public information office at (217) 581-7400.






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Contact Information

Media Relations
Josh Reinhart,
Public Information Coordinator

Booth House
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920

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