President Inch looks to connect with campus

As students return to campus for in person learning, newly appointed University President Edward Inch is taking steps to get to know the student population at MNSU. 

Inch was instated as president of the university on July 1 of this year. Before MNSU, Inch served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at California State University, East Bay, a university of similar size to MNSU.

His journey through higher education started with humble beginnings, growing up with both parents being teachers, he made an effort to avoid that career path. 

But after receiving an offer to work at the University of Oregon to teach policy debate, he found that he really did enjoy teaching. 

Much of his time teaching policy debate was spent on trips with students in university vans. Inch attributes these long hours to be a vital part of his development. 

“The very best teaching I ever did was in those vans” said Inch, reflecting on his time traveling with students, “you really get a sense of educating an entire student”

He then moved on to University of Western Washington to receive his doctorate, but before he could finish, he was offered a tenure line faculty position at Pacific Lutheran University, where he would also serve as the speech and debate coach.

After receiving his doctorate, Inch began climbing the higher education ladder. 

Inch describes how he went from being a speech and debate coach to positions with more responsibility. 

“I think I got caught in this from my path in speech and debate,” said Inch, “but then discovered my ability as dean and department chair to mobilize and work with students, staff and faculty to create an outstanding experience for students.”

During his time at California State University, East Bay, Inch describes habits that he wishes to continue now, having moved to MNSU. 

“I try to take a walk around campus every day, all at different times,” said Inch, talking about his attempts to get connected with the campus community. “It is nice to just be around for people to ask questions.”

Inch is attempting to stay very visible to students, faculty, and staff during his first year. 

“At least once a week, we go eat in the dining hall” said Inch, “we just sit down at a table, anyone is invited to sit and have a conversation”.

A large hurdle for Inch is the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The pandemic really highlighted where we have vulnerabilities,” said Inch. 

As the restrictions seem to loosen up, with face to face learning returning to MNSU, Inch is beginning broad conversations about the future of the university. 

As these conversations begin, and continue, Inch says that the north star will be the question “how is this in the best interest of our students?”

“When you start engaging people in that conversation, they start to heal.” said Inch, “that’s my hope.”

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