September 19, 2012
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,
As I indicated in my initial campus message on the first day of classes, Sept. 5, we are off to a great start to the 2012-2013 academic year. I would like to thank all of you for your part in making Eastern Michigan University a wonderful, supportive and healthy environment that seeks to help people of all levels achieve their goals and dreams.
The final enrollment numbers are in and I am pleased to announce that we have the largest incoming class of new undergraduates in the University’s 163-year history and the largest freshman class in a decade! New undergraduate enrollment for the fall opening term (includes freshmen, transfers, and others) totals 5,076 this fall -- an increase of 6 percent from the previous high of 4,751 in 2001. The freshman class of 2,595 increased by 21 percent from 2,130 last fall. At a time when Michigan’s population is declining and the projection of Michigan high school graduates is expected to fall from 100,009 in 2012 to 91,972 in 2122, Eastern grew!
Here are some additional numbers from our fall semester final count that you might find interesting. The incoming freshman class shows distinctly higher grades than last year, and is more diverse as well. Figures indicate that 725 freshmen had a high school GPA of 3.50 or higher, compared to 532 last fall, an increase of 36 percent. In addition, 877 freshmen earned a high school GPA of 3.0 to 3.49, compared to 663 last year -- a 32 percent increase. Further evidence of the improved academic standing of students is enrollment in Eastern’s respected Honors College -- up from 165 last fall to more than 370 this fall. Minority students total 892 compared to 632 last year, a rise of 24 percent.
As a result of the enrollment gains and the reinvestment in upgrades to campus housing, more students are living on campus. This fall, 1,840 first-time students are living in EMU residence halls and apartments, about a 19 percent increase from last fall’s total of 1,549. Overall, 3,343 students are living in EMU housing this fall, an increase of 11 percent from last year’s total of 3,013.
I would like to thank everyone in our admissions and recruitment area, and our campus housing teams for their efforts in achieving this outstanding growth. I also would like to acknowledge Eastern's outstanding faculty for their daily efforts inside and outside the classroom to help our students succeed, as well as our student affairs staff for accommodating the increased needs of our expanding student body. Campus has never looked better -- credit to our facilities team for making significant upgrades inside classroom buildings, residence halls and to the external campus environment, which is beautiful and one of the most walkable college campuses in Michigan.
I would like to congratulate the work of the faculty contract bargaining teams, led by Susan Moeller, EMU-AAUP president and professor of accounting and finance, and James Carroll, associate provost and associate vice president for research and administration, and interim dean of the Graduate School. A tentative agreement was reached two weeks before the expiration of the current contract in a positive spirit of cooperation and mutual respect. I also would like to acknowledge our clerical secretarial bargaining teams for their hard work on difficult issues, led by Karen Hansen, UAW CS local 1975 president, Michael Shumaker, UAW CS local 1975 chief negotiator, and David Trakul, director of employment relations and policy. All contracts at Eastern in the past four years have been accomplished internally without outside counsel and without any interruption of work.
As I begin my fifth fall at Eastern, I thank the Board of Regents and all of our students, faculty and staff, alumni, friends and supporters for what we have accomplished together in the past four years. Total student headcount has grown from 21,926 to 23,502. After capital improvements of over $200 million, which includes the $90 million science complex, renovation of Pray-Harrold and residence halls upgrades, we have a more vibrant campus atmosphere in which to work, live and learn. The endowment is at a record $51,413,003 with completion of the “Invest, Inspire.” campaign which raised $56 million. In the past four years, University House has hosted 241 events and 10,798 guests. We have hired over 100 new faculty and authorized 37 searches for next fall. At the same time, we have kept college affordable by keeping tuition low with an average increase of 2.86 percent over the four years, lowest in the state, and increased financial aid to a high of $35.7 million. In the past two fiscal years we have increased spending on Academic Affairs by $4.7 million, from 52.7 percent of our budget in fiscal year 2011 to 54 percent in fiscal year 2012. We are embarked on strategic planning for the future and will utilize a market analysis and benchmarking studies to inform the strategic plan process this fall. Campus safety continues to be paramount and investment in a crime response team, dispatchers, cameras and technology has resulted in a decline in burglaries from 47 in 2008 to 13 last year. Crimes that do occur are swiftly solved. We have a stable and strong leadership team that loves Eastern. Our future is bright and strong.
This is a time of exceptional momentum, growth, pride and excitement on campus, and I thank you for your support and look forward to hearing from you. I also look forward to seeing you at our free annual campus President's picnic on Wednesday, Oct. 3 on the patio of the Student Center, where we will celebrate together our enrollment growth and other accomplishments! We will have more details on this in the days ahead.
Thank you again and best wishes for a successful fall.