Dr. Gregory Eastwood, Interim President Introduces Himself to the Case Community

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Tue, 04/18/2006 - 12:40.

On Monday April 17th at 4 p.m. in Strosacker Auditorium Dr. Gregory Eastwood, Interim President, introduced himself to the Case Community (students, faculty and staff). The event was also broadcast live via webcast. I tried to listen to the webcast, which was frustrating due technology problems  (I am not sure if it was on my end or Case's). I listened again the next day thanks to the archived copy -- much more satisfying result. If you missed out please check the link.

Dr. Eastwood's talk drew a live crowd of approximately 2000 to Strosacker Auditorium and countless more via the web. He definitely seems personable. He began by sharing his family background -- a wife Lynn, three daughters, four grandchildren. He has personal connections to the University; he is an alumnus and a board member. He said he consciously savored his experience as a student at Case. Something I can relate to because I do enjoy being a student here. But the gist of his talk was that he is not just here to "hold down the fort" as the familiar expression goes. He stated that he has a vision for Case, and, when questioned by someone in the audience, he admitted with some humor that there is at least the most remote chance that he may become Case's next president. 

One of Dr. Eastwood's stategies for getting the University back on track involves improving communication problems through listening. He plans to start meeting with various groups on campus immediately. He also addressed the University's unpopular name change to "Case" under Hundert -- an issue that has alienated many alumi. It seems that we will be easing back into the familiar "Case Western Reserve University." Dr. Eastwood agreed that it is a mouthful but it is worth saying.  The phrase "the most powerful learning environment in the world" also seems to be on the way out. Myself and many others I spoke to found it embarrassing. Dr. Eastwood asked his audience to consider a more humble and positive concept for the University "the most aligned learning environment in the world." Though the phrase sounds better, achieving that goal maybe as difficult as becoming the most powerful learning environment in the world.             

Almost two weeks later things at Case seem to be proceding as usual, or at least as they have every spring semester since I arrived as a masters student almost eight years ago. May 1st was the last day of classes. Students are preparing for finals and some for commencement. Budget cuts have not affected Spring Fest, the annual weekend of free food and entertainment that all students are invited to enjoy. Neither have they affected the annual sprucing up of the campus. Case seems to look better than ever with lush green lawns, beautifully landscaped beds of fragrant blooming trees and flowers, and well maintained buildings. But, looking further into the future, faculty and students anxious about programs like the Baker-Nord Center for Humanities, the College of Arts and Science Fellowship and SAGES.

When will we see the affects of Dr. Eastwood vision? According to his talk, he is meeting with various groups right now. I attempted to contact him twice about participating in one of these discussion groups. I used the email address he gave out during his talk on the 17th (the email address of his assistant); however I received no response. Dr. Eastwood should be able to work very well with the board, but his ability to work with the board will not help -- the board loved Hundert --  its the faculty that he and his administration he needs to bond with.