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California higher education administrator picked as next EWU president

Courtesy of Cal State University-San Bernadino
Dr. Shari McMahan is the provost at Cal State University-San Bernadino

Eastern's Board of Trustees unanimously chooses Shari McMahan to serve as president.

McMahan was the last of four candidates to visit Cheney and Spokane earlier this month. She obviously made a good impression because she was the trustees’ unanimous choice to become Eastern’s second female president and 27th overall.

McMahan is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Cal State University-San Bernardino. That is an Hispanic-serving institution, a status to which Eastern aspires. More than 80% of the California school’s students are first-generation in college.

The trustees praised the energy McMahan showed in her visit, her curiosity about and desire to lead Eastern, said Kim Pearman-Gillman, the chair of the board of trustees.

“She taught us things about this university through the research that she had done. It was amazing for each one of us to be in those conversations with her and to see how deeply she cared about really looking forward to being the president here," she said.

Board members said they were also impressed by McMahan's long career as a college administrator and faculty member, her record in helping her current institution through the Covid pandemic and working on issues of diversity and inclusion.

The trustees authorized Pearman-Gillman, to negotiate a contract with the new president. In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, the university said it expects McMahan to begin work this summer.

She was chosen over three other finalists, including David May, who has served as interim president since Mary Cullinan stepped down in 2020.

"I would say we owe a huge debt of respect to Dr. May for the work that he was done on behalf of this board and this organization," Pearman-Gillman said. "We are so very thankful to him for everything he’s done and has really led to today and made this day possible.”

May will continue to lead the university until McMahan moves to eastern Washington.

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.