Eastern Washington University held its formal investiture ceremony Monday, officially recognizing Shari McMahan as the 27th university president.
An investiture is a historic ritual that formally installs the president, typically a year after they’ve served in the role. McMahan was appointed president in June 2022.
Led by the raucous blare of EWU’s Code Red marching band, a procession of university officials in their regalia and around 200 event attendees, the group paraded from the One Room School House to the Showalter Auditorium to hear speeches. Jay Manning, chair of the EWU board of trustees, hung the president’s chain of office, a symbolic medallion passed on among presidents, around the neck of a grinning McMahan.
In her speech, McMahan mentioned priorities in helping students make connections with mental health resources and fostering belonging on campus. A first-generation college student who researched public health in her schooling, McMahan said she is aware of the disparities brought on based on socioeconomic status.
“My passion is worth working with first-generation and underserved students to propel them forward and create opportunities for their transformation,” McMahan told the crowd. “For these humble, kind and hardworking students, it not only changes their lives, but also positively impacts their families and the communities we serve.”
Pui-Yan Lam, faculty organization president and EWU professor, said she hoped to see the new president foster values of diversity and equity during her term. With equity gaps in nearly every area of university life, namely education retention, Lam said the university should seek diverse perspectives from students and faculty from all backgrounds, and this should be reflected in the university’s new strategic plan, currently in development.
“Making sure every student feels they belong regardless of what their identities are is also very important to mental health; I think all of these goals are interconnected.”
Also a professor in sociology and justice studies, Lam said she hoped to count on support from McMahan’s administration when it comes to potentially controversial topics in her curriculum.
Trading California for Cheney, McMahan previously worked as the provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at California State University San Bernardino, the first female provost in that university’s history. She has a bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine, and a master’s degree in health science from California State University, Northridge.