Dr. Mary Cullinan, past EWU president and University District board member, dies

Monday, May 3, 2021

(as reported in The Spokesman-Review by Greg Mason)

Mary Cullinan, Eastern Washington University’s first female president and the 26th president in the university’s history, has died, EWU Interim President David May announced to the campus community Monday.

Cullinan took the helm at EWU in 2014, resigning last year amid financial challenges and a vote of no confidence from EWU’s faculty senate. Following her resignation, Cullinan served as a special assistant to May.

Upon leaving her leadership post, Cullinan joined the university’s faculty as a tenured English professor. Cullinan was most recently on a nine-month paid sabbatical to sharpen her teaching skills and work on a book project, having planned to start teaching students in fall 2021.

University officials did not release a cause of death or specify when Cullinan died.

“I don’t have any details to share, but it is a shock,” May said in an email Monday announcing Cullinan’s death.

Citing the privacy wishes of Cullinan’s family, members of the university’s Board of Trustees declined comment.

Prior to her presidency at EWU, Cullinan served as president of Southern Oregon University in Ashland, a post she took in 2006 after serving as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stephen F. Austin University in Texas for three years. She also worked as dean of the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences and as an English professor at California State University, Stanislaus.

Cullinan received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 and obtained her master’s and doctorate degrees in English literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.