President's Report to the Board of Regents
September 20, 2011
As Fall semester begins, I would like to welcome our new and returning students, our 29 new tenure-track faculty, 11 new full-time lecturers, and thank everyone for their cooperation with the move back into Pray-Harrold, our largest and busiest classroom building. This brought an end to the massive "swing space" initiative in which we closed the entire building and relocated faculty offices and classes across campus last year. Moving completely out of the building, as opposed to a phased construction plan, saved more than $3 million in costs and trimmed more than a year off construction time.
Work continues on EMU's self-funded $90-million science complex, the largest project in campus history. Renovation of the basement, first and second floors of the Mark Jefferson Building are in the finishing phase. The entire project is planned for completion in December 2012.
Enrollment of first-year students increased by more than 6 percent – with 2,130 new students, up from last year's total of 2,008. Housing contracts in residence halls and apartments increased by 5.7 percent, rising from 2,848 a year ago to 3,011.
The academic profile of our new students also improved. The average ACT score increased from 21.02 to 21.10, and the average GPA rose from 3.06 to 3.10. The number of new students entering Eastern with high school GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0 rose by 16 percent. Our student retention rate remained at just over 76 percent, up five percent from two years ago. Undergraduate enrollment continued to increase at 18,569 and overall enrollment is at 23,341, which is down slightly by 0.69 percent from last year – fewer new and returning graduate students. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently noted that in Fall 2009 Eastern was 14th in the country in enrollment at 22,893 among similar universities. The Office of the Provost is being led by a team of two Interim Associate Provosts: Rhonda Kinney-Longworth, interim associate provost and associate vice president for academic programming, and Jim Carroll, interim associate provost and associate vice president for research and professor of physics. Jim and Rhonda function as a team to provide leadership and oversee day-to-day operations, and both attend Cabinet and Executive Council meetings until an interim or permanent provost is named. David Woike was appointed interim vice president for academic affairs, where he provides leadership for Academic Human Resources. The Provost Search Committee chaired by Dean Venner is well underway with its work.
Two new programs are being recommended today for Board of Regents' approval. The proposed Interdisciplinary Environmental Science and Society Major is built on a platform of existing science, social science and humanities courses. The program is designed to meet the demand for increased numbers of environmental scientists and professionals with an understanding of environmental science.
The proposed Early Childhood Education Major replaces a minor program in the same area and includes additional requirements – such as expanded Special Education coursework. The program will help meet the demand for graduates to teach in Special Education classrooms as well as general education early childhood settings. It also will help address the findings of a state study released last week that indicated Michigan educators need better training on effective teaching methods for children with autism spectrum disorder.
Eastern recently hosted a roundtable focused on special education teacher preparation, recruitment and retention. The program featured Alexa Posny, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education.
I am pleased to report tentative agreements on three labor contracts, which we are recommending for Board of Regents approval today. They include a new agreement with Eastern Michigan University Chapter of Police Officers Labor Council – Sergeants Unit, covering four officers; a new agreement with AFSCME Local Union 3866 affiliated with AFSCME Council 25, covering approximately 200 employees; and, the inaugural collective bargaining agreement with the Eastern Michigan University Federation of Teachers Part-Time Lecturers Unit, covering approximately 800 instructional staff, field instructors and adjunct library staff teaching at least one credit hour or the equivalent non-credit instructional workload.
"Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University" has now raised more than $48 million, nearing our goal of $50 million. I particularly want to acknowledge the $1.5 million gift from the American Electric Power Foundation that will fund an endowed chair in the College of Education, honoring Regent Michael Morris.
Bob Seger will kick-off the second leg of his North American tour at the Convocation Center on Wednesday, November 2.
This concludes my formal remarks. The full President's Report, with additional news, is available in hard copy and on the University's web site.
Thank you, Chairman Wilbanks.
The Princeton Review selected Eastern as one of the best colleges in the Midwest for the ninth consecutive year.
A 9/11 memorial event was held on September 11 to unveil the University's new 9/11 memorial and pay tribute to the heroes of that day 10 years ago. More than 200 people attended the event and heard remarks from Student Government President Jelani McGadney, Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton, Congressman John Dingell, and me. The memorial features a 14-foot, 6,800 pound steel beam from the World Trade Center. I would like to acknowledge the work of Director of Operations John Donegan in leading the effort.
Sociology Professor Mansoor Moaddel is among a small number of researchers selected to participate in a National Science Foundation project reviewing the impact of 9/11. Professor Moaddel studies culture, ideology, political conflict, revolution and social change.
New freshman and transfer students began their transition to EMU with Fusion New Student Orientation. Over the course of First Four (a four-day program), new freshmen made friends, became comfortable with the campus environment, learned about academic support resources and faculty expectations, life on campus for both commuters and residence hall students, and a wide range of involvement opportunities.
Other events to start the year providing excitement to students included Meijer Madness, which attracted several thousand students to the Meijer store on Carpenter Road for a night of food and shopping – and featured a pep rally that included Football Coach Ron English and several members of the football team. Another fun event was the Campus Bash, which included free food and games in a pirate-themed event.
We also sponsored a series of events during the first week of classes designed to engage underrepresented first-year students, introducing them to academic resources and meaningful social experiences early in their collegiate career. The program, called "LIVE" (Learning Integrity while Valuing Equality), connected students to programs and services offered through Holman Success Center as well as various student groups who can assist them through their transition to college. "LIVE" is one of four components of the Black and Latino Male Initiative, a new collaborative campaign that was created by faculty, staff and students this summer to improve the academic performance, increase retention and graduation rates, and assist in the transition to college for our Black and Latino male students.
The second annual Academic Student Success Summit will be held this Friday. The purpose is to focus on how Eastern's academic community works together to promote undergraduate student success. Registration details can be found on our home page.
Other noteworthy capital projects completed this summer include the Bowen Lot; Oakwood and Washtenaw intersection; campus way finding signage; parking lot automated pay lanes; Rynearson Stadium graphics; locker room enhancements for volleyball, women's track & field, and gymnastics; the Fletcher Building – Children's Institute relocation; and enhancements to the First-Year Center residence halls, including wireless locks and other renovations.
Other summer projects included building a storytelling area north of Quirk Theater, and installing exercise equipment and fitness stations near the county Border to Border trail at Ainsley Park.
The Football team got off to its first 2-0 start since 1989. Senior linebacker Marcus English was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Defensive Player of the Week for the period ending Sept. 10. This marks English's first career MAC weekly award. We had a tough loss against University of Michigan last weekend, and this Saturday we are on the road at Penn State. We open Mid-American Conference play at home on October 1 against Akron, which also is Band Day.
The Volleyball team won 10 straight games en route to a 12-2 start to the season.
The men's cross country team was chosen to repeat as the Mid-American Conference Cross Country Champions in a vote by the league's head coaches.