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WSU medical school dean makes case to become EWU president

Zoom screenshot
John Tomkowiak onstage at a campus forum in Cheney Thursday morning

John Tomkowiak is one of four finalists to be showcased by EWU this week.

The Eastern Washington University community today [Thursday] welcomed the third of four finalists for university president.

On Thursday, John Tomkowiak, the founding dean at Washington State University’s College of Medicine, made his case for the job at a forum on the university's Cheney campus.

“I have spent my whole career at community-based medical schools, focused in some way on serving rural and underserved populations or disadvantaged populations. When I think about the student-centered regional comprehensive university that Eastern is and the mission you have and all the great work that you’ve already done, it so aligns with my past and my passion for creating opportunities for students and also meeting the needs of the communities that we serve," he said.

Tomkowiak's college shares a downtown campus with several EWU academic programs, including several health sciences programs.

Tomkowiak praised the university for its role in serving diverse communities of students. He said that’s consistent with what his college has accomplished in that area.

“On the student side of things we’ve developed pathway programs with Hispanic communities and Native American communities. We’re partnering with OHSU [Oregon Health and Science University] in developing a post-baccalaureate program for Native Americans so that they can have a potentially direct route to get into medical school," he said.

He was asked by a staff member to identify one of Eastern’s weaknesses. He said the university needs to be more bold in sharing its story.

Tomkowiak came to Spokane in 2015 from the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University, but he had a connection to the Inland Northwest. He’s a graduate of Gonzaga’s School of Leadership Studies. Now he’ll have another connection. He announced that his daughter was recently informed she’d been accepted to Eastern and plans to attend school there.

Eastern's fourth and final presidential finalist candidate is Shari McMahan. She will tour campus on Friday and speak at three public forums. McMahan is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Cal State-San Bernardino. She is the second finalist from California.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.