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ISU Holds its Second Presidential Finalist Forum

Written by on February 23, 2024

NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University held its second open forum for the final presidential candidates on February 22. Following the first of four on Feb. 19, Donald Easton-Brooks, Ph. D., spoke at the second forum on Feb. 22. 

With over 25 years of experience in high education and 15 years of administrative leadership, Easton-Brooks is an internationally recognized researcher and leader. Easton-Brooks serves as the dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Prior to this, he served as the dean of the School of Education and in a leadership role in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Connecticut. He was able to engage in searching for the next athletic director, negotiate a contract and search for key positions on campus that require a strong leader. 

Presidential Candidate Donald Easton-Brooks, Ph.D. Image Courtesy of Illinois State University

“I’ve had the privilege of working with a president who was a former governor,” he said, “and being a former governor he really has allowed for leaders of the campus to really take on roles beyond dean-ing and other responsibilities.”

Easton-Brooks spoke about the values of ‘The Next-Gen University” and what that would look like at ISU. He frequently talked about why values like diversity and student focus are important. 

“I think that part of sense of belonging, sense of engagement, is that people should have respectful opportunities for free speech,” he said. “I think it’s important that we do engage in dialogue, whether it’s different or not, it’s important. And I think that’s part of that sense of belonging.”

When asked why he feels uniquely situated to make a difference at ISU, Easton-Brooks said, “All those things I talked about, about being a student, I was. I was a student-athlete. I was a scholarship student. I was a student on probation. I was a student that had to work. I was a student with no support from my family.”

He elaborated on that point to argue why it makes him the best candidate for president.

“So, to me, it’s about how do I help that student be successful on top of other students who might not have those barriers to be successful. So that’s important to me,” he said. 

Easton-Brooks also talked about how student focus can be improved on campus. He briefly explained why some students struggle to graduate. 

“We have to make sure that we’re breaking this down and paying attention to it,” Easton-Brooks said about measuring student wellness. 

The last two finalists’ open forums will be next week. The next forum will be held Feb. 26.