President's Report to the Board of Regents
February 16, 2010
We are encouraged by the Governor’s 2010-2011 budget proposal which reflects the sentiments of Michigan business leaders, workers, families, parents and students: continued cuts to higher education are threatening Michigan's economic future. The states that had the highest number of college graduates are doing well now in the new economy. The proposed appropriation for Eastern Michigan University is $78.2 million — the same as 2009-2010 base appropriation of $76 million and $2.2 million Federal stimulus dollars. We are pleased at the Governor's recognition that public universities are one of the most important assets Michigan has to lift this economy up and rebuild our future. The Governor’s proposed appropriation is a first signal in Lansing that deep cuts in higher education may not be realized, yet it will require tough votes to restructure the tax system to provide the revenue to afford this. The state’s budgeting process was stalled last year until Halloween and we fear that delay again will make our budget planning extremely difficult and uncertain. As a result of this uncertainty, Eastern’s budgeting process is focused on being prepared for either outcome; stable appropriation or a reduction.
Due to enrollment growth, for the first time in many years we have initiated a budget process that will balance new one-time and base budget requests with cost containment measures that can be reinvested in enrollment growth and other University goals, such as student success and new faculty recruitment and renovation of our facilities. Strategic allocation of resources to strengthen Eastern and support enrollment growth is our goal. We have authorized 42 new faculty searches, which are currently under way.
Our fall enrollment increased 4.5 percent and we added 933 new students. We were just under 23,000 total enrollment last Fall. Winter enrollment usually declines, but Eastern continued to grow, up 5 percent over last year. Our 3.8 percent tuition increase was the lowest in Michigan last year and the Board of Regents supported a substantial increase in financial aid support, up 42 percent over the past three years. This is providing access and opportunity for students who may not have been able to attend college.
Student success initiatives are moving from analysis and discussion to action. We are moving forward with creating First Year Seminar courses and Living-Learning Communities recommended by the Student Success Council. A key component of our expanded student success efforts include a more comprehensive and user-friendly early warning system to track students who are having academic difficulty. The increased attention is already showing results. The number of students on academic probation declined from 30 percent to 21 percent from fall 2008 to fall 2009.
The American Institute of Physics just released its 2010 report ranking Eastern Michigan’s Physics program 14th in the nation of the 63 universities in our category.
Our student-athletes continue to succeed in the classroom. The academic success rates among student-athletes improved year-to-year in virtually all categories — with the average GPA increasing to 3.054 in fall 2009, up from 3.028 a year earlier. Thirteen of our teams posted a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better, with 30 of our student-athletes earning a 4.0 GPA in the fall semester. They are students first and wonderful athletes second. We are pleased to report our women’s basketball team is currently 18-6 and making a run at the top spot in the MAC. Eastern has 21 Division I sports in the MAC conference.
The unprecedented effort to revitalize multiple areas of the campus continues to move forward. Construction of the $90 million Science Complex is progressing on schedule through the winter months. Renovation plans for Pray-Harrold also are progressing, with initial office moves getting underway with the Dean’s Office first. The coordination for this project and the plan for “swing space” to accommodate faculty offices and classroom relocation is under way. While presenting significant challenges for everyone involved, the outstanding new facilities will create a more dynamic campus and enhance academic achievement and student success.
The new indoor athletic practice facility was inflated at sunrise on Sunday, Feb. 7. Interior work will continue with installation of synthetic turf this month and a scheduled completion in March 2010. Our athletic teams — women’s soccer, football, men and women’s golf, women’s softball and baseball — will use the facility, as will recreational and intramural programs. It also will be available to the Washtenaw community for youth soccer and other activities as a rental facility, which will help fund operating costs.
We are continuing to build on initiatives to increase school spirit on campus. We held a grand opening event for the new Eagle Nation Station in the Student Center as we link athletics, arts and cultural events with our students. This event was followed by the first Eagle Nation All Campus Picnic, attended by several hundred students and employees. While our initial focus is basketball, spirit activities will extend to other Athletics programs and the arts, theatre and dance.
I am pleased to report several key hires in the University’s leadership team. This includes the appointments of Carl Powell as chief information officer, Gloria Hage as general counsel, Leigh Greden as executive director of governmental and community relations, and Chad Wing as director of state and federal relations, pending Board of Regents approval. Please stand and be recognized.
Many other activities provide a well rounded and rich educational and campus experience:
- Our faculty, staff and students continue to mobilize behind Haiti relief efforts.
- Last night, Congressman John Dingell and Eastern Michigan University hosted more than 200 would-be job seekers for a program “How to Get Hired in 2010.”
- Our Graduate Open House attracted more than 250 new applicants. We thank all of the faculty and staff who participated.
- Our highly-acclaimed lectures series “Perspectives on the Middle East” continued with a discussion of post 9/11 stereotypes of Muslim-Americans.
- The three-part John W. Porter Distinguished Lecture Series got underway on Jan. 21 with a focus on urban education and community collaboration during challenging times.
- Finally, we welcomed a sure sign that spring isn’t too far away. Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland visited campus to help us kick off Eastern’s 2010 baseball season in our inaugural “First Pitch Baseball Banquet.” If it feels like spring is far away, you will be pleased to know our baseball team has its first game of the season later this month.
We will launch a capital campaign during special kick-off events on April 19 just before the next Board of Regents meeting on April 20.
Chairman Wilbanks, this concludes my report.
Susan Martin, President