April 03, 2003 11:00 pm
Dixie Lund ().
Dixie Lund ().

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Dixie Lund, Eastern Oregon University's dean of distance education, was named EOU's interim president Thursday.

The selection, made by the State Board of Higher Education, caused Lund to recall a prophetic statement written by a student in her high school yearbook. Her Grant Union High School (John Day) classmate wrote that Lund would someday "own her own college.''

Lund doesn't own Eastern, but she does now own a piece of history. Lund will soon become the first woman ever to head Eastern.

She will take the reins from Phil Creighton, who will leave in July to become president of Pacific University in Forest Grove. Creighton is completing his fifth year as EOU's president. He is delighted that Lund was selected.

"Personally I could not be more pleased,'' Creighton said. "She is able to build consensus, is a team player and has vision. I don't think she has an enemy in the world.''

Creighton gave Lund a large piece of advice.

"I told her, ‘Don't let the interim title get in the way of being president,' '' he said.

Lund is completing her 30th year at Eastern and has been with its Division of Distance Education for 23 years. She has been the division's dean since 1994.

"I am so blessed and honored to be at this place at this time. It is an amazing opportunity,'' said Lund, who will not be a candidate for the permanent president's position.

John Miller, EOU provost and vice president of academic affairs, said he believes the consensus on campus is that everyone is delighted with Lund's selection.

"She has the ability to bring people together and will be a wonderful spokesperson for the university,'' Miller said.

He added that Lund's ties to Eastern will help enormously.

"She is very familiar with Eastern's tradition, our mission and our vision,'' the provost said.

Lund graduated from Eastern in 1973 with a degree in secondary business education.

Lund begins serving as interim president June 1.

Richard Jarvis, chancellor of the Oregon University System, wants to have the permanent president in place by Jan. 1.

Lund said she is facing three major challenges as interim president. The most pressing is the budget shortfall Eastern faces because of a drop in state funding caused by the economic downturn.

She said that it will be critical that Eastern avoid cutting "into its heart and soul.'' If it does, EOU will be in danger of falling into a downward spiral that would be difficult to


"This is a huge challenge, but if we work together, there is nothing that we can not accomplish,'' Lund said. "I believe this with my whole heart.''

A second challenge, Lund said, is for Eastern's enrollment to continue to grow during the economic downturn. State universities can boost the amount of money they receive with enrollment growth.

"Enrollment growth is so tied to weathering the budget cuts,'' Lund said.

A third issue Lund is concerned about involves Eastern's faculty union, which was ratified earlier this year.

"This is new territory for Eastern. I want it (the presence of the union) to be constructive, not divisive,'' Lund said.

She noted that faculty have the option of joining or not joining the union.

"I want to protect the right of both of these voices to be heard,'' Lund said. "I am committed to having positive and open dialogue.''

Lund believes her work with the distance education program will make it easier for her to serve as president. Lund noted that she has had to work with every department on campus.

She said this has helped her develop a trust level with staff that will help her hit the ground running.

In addition to her degree from Eastern, she has a master's in adult education from Oregon State University, and an educational doctorate in post-secondary educational leadership from Portland State University.

Lund, who plans to retire next year, is active in the community. She is vice chair of the Grande Ronde Hospital Board of Trustees, is active in her church, the Faith Center, and does much more.

Last month she received one of Eastern's two 2002 Women of Courage and Vision Awards.

Lund and her husband, Ed, have two adult children who live in Oregon.