“Fear and Our Future,” Duffett’s University-Wide Gathering Address

It is undoubtedly difficult to relay staff changes to a community, especially when such changes promise to alter immediately the future direction of the community. But staff change was the precise subject of President Duffett’s 2015 address to faculty and staff regarding the state of the university. In times of crisis, Duffett began, faculty and staff need to come together to form a better learning environment. He encouraged the faculty and staff to be great representatives to the students, stressing that the actions of the faculty will affect the student body’s interpretation of Eastern’s motto of faith, reason, and justice. Duffett emphasized that he has great hopes for the future of Eastern University.

 However, the notes of hope were accompanied by honesty regarding the changes the university will need to make to relieve financial tensions. He referred the faculty handbook, which says that if student attendance drops by ten percent over several years, the current president will have the right “to take measures to ensure the financial viability and well-being of the University.” Unfortunately, said Duffett, the population of students has decreased by 11%. he earnestly announced that he had proposed a financial plan to the Board of Trustees that included the downsizing of staff and personnel.

After reviewing the plan, said Duffett, the board unanimously agreed that it was what the school needed to flourish. Immediately after its approval, Duffett reported that he gathered a task force of faculty and staff members to create an initial sketch. Since then, the committee has been reviewing every detail of the school’s financial information and is projected to finalize the downsizing plan in November. President Duffett informed the audience that this has been an incredibly tough decision.

Over murmurs in the crowd, Duffett reminded the audience of the new facilities and innovations to be brought about in the ten-year master plan. He mentioned the renovation of the fitness center several times, but it was not enough to calm the murmurs in the audience in response to the announcement of the plan to downsize. Nonetheless, it does confirm the president’s desire to improve Eastern over the next decade.

After his speech, a staff-wide communion service was planned. Unfortunately, President Duffett was slated to attend his daughter’s graduation, so he quickly apologized to the audience in the hopes that they would understand his circumstances. Immediately after, he rushed out and the staff-wide communion started. Although these large institutional changes will be difficult, Dr. Duffett hopes that there will be an increase of 1000 students in the coming years.

An excerpt of President Duffett’s address can be found on Page 2.