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Regional News

EWU finishes presidential candidate forums with visit by southern California college administrator

EWU presidential finalist Shari McMahan at forum
Zoom screenshot
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Shari McMahan listens to a question at an EWU campus forum on Friday.

Shari McMahan is the number two administrator at Cal State-San Bernardino

Eastern Washington University officials will meet Saturday to begin discussing the four candidates for president they hosted on campus this week.

The four include Eastern’s interim president (David May), the dean of Washington State University’s College of Medicine (John Tomkowiak) and two college administrators from Southern California (Monroe Gorden, Jr. and Shari McMahan). McMahan was on campus Friday.

Her current institution, Cal State University-San Bernardino, is a federally-recognized minority-serving institution. She is its provost and vice president for academic affairs. Her academic background is in public health.

She says more than 80% of her current institution's students are the first generation of their families to go to college. Many are native Spanish speakers. Her university is federally recognized as an Hispanic-serving institute. In doing research for her visit to EWU, she says she learned that Eastern is also pursuing that designation.

“So my question is what does that mean to you? I’ve lived in Hispanic-serving institutions for over 20 years. What can I bring that helps you get to that dream of what you believe an Hispanic-serving should be? Because it’s not just the numbers. There’s a lot that goes into helping our students along the way," she said.

McMahan has spent her entire academic and administrative career in Southern California, which brought this question from an audience member at a campus forum: why do you want to come to Washington and lead Eastern?

“It looked like some of the concerns you had and some of the experiences that you’re going through are things that I’ve been through and I feel I can contribute to building a campus climate, to helping put the past behind, to be able to move forward together, to be able to dream big, to be able to share publicly what Eastern is," she said.

McMahan says she’s excited about the chance to help Eastern create a stronger identity in the public sphere, to help it become more accessible to potential students and to help keep its tuition the lowest of any public university in the state.

Eastern's trustees are scheduled to convene at 11 am Saturday on the Cheney campus to begin deliberating about the candidates.