President Martin's farewell message to Eastern Michigan University community

To students, faculty and staff:

When I was inaugurated seven years ago today, on July 7, 2008, the theme for my inaugural speech was “Celebrate the Past and Embrace the Future.” I would like to do a little bit of both in this, my final campus message as President.

First and foremost, I want to thank all of you for everything we did together to lift up this great historic public university, to make it successful, to make it shine.

When I first started, we had an enrollment goal of 1,900 freshmen and a stretch goal of 2,100 freshmen. Now, we are looking at a 2,800 stretch goal for freshmen for Fall 2015, reflecting our success in achieving record enrollment in a hyper-competitive market with declining numbers of high school graduates. The Honors College has doubled in size since 2011 – growth that has necessitated finding a new home for The Honors College. The Board of Regents has approved the acquisition of the Holy Trinity Chapel, which is contiguous to campus, to house both The Honors College and our performing arts program. The chapel is behind Pease Hall and in wonderful condition.

Our overall average GPA for incoming freshmen in 2010 was 3.05; it is now 3.27. The ACT average was 21.1 in 2011 and increased to 22.25 for the entering fall 2014 freshman class.

We have invested in, improved and expanded academic advising. An example is the Francine Parker Advising Center in the Student Center. We also have added more advising centers throughout the campus and enabled students to go online and advise themselves.

Exciting new academic programs have been launched, such as the Physician Assistant Program. Even with a tight fiscal situation, we invested in the renovation of the historic Rackham building in the center of campus, retaining its art deco style while bringing it into the 21st century with lab technology to accommodate the growth of our health and human services programs.

Instead of building our own simulation laboratory space, which we could not afford, we partnered with St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor to lease space in its excellent facilities for the Physician Assistant Program and other health programs.

Rackham is but one example of our successful renovation and rebuilding of key facilities. We have fixed up quite a number of buildings in the last seven years.

The $90 million Science Complex is another excellent example. The renovation of Pray-Harrold is another. We moved everybody out at one time to complete the construction, rather than do it in parts, which would have taken longer and cost more. We called this “swing space” -- we used the cost savings to purchase the furnishings. Swing space was challenging but fun and a great example of campus collaboration.

In historic McKenny Hall – which was known as the old Student Union by many of our students and alumni -- we constructed classrooms where there had been a bowling alley. We also created a large student lounge/gathering place, added an Eagle Café, Alumni Relations Office and corresponding Alumni Lounge, academic advising, and the new McKenny Gallery, providing an opportunity for Eastern students, faculty, staff and visitors to see historical displays that capture our 166-year history. The EMU Foundation also will call McKenny home this summer.

Many other highlights come to mind:

  • The second phase of the renovation of Rackham for other health programs, such as orthotics and dietetics.
  • The annual hiring of new faculty, who energize our campus with fresh ideas and expertise. Over the seven years of my presidency, we hired 240 new faculty members.
  • Renovations and environmental upgrades to classrooms, residence halls and dining facilities. You will find fresh, exciting food on Eastern’s campus.
  • Establishing a new headquarters for the Department of Public Safety, as well as hiring additional officers and dispatchers to help monitor the 700-plus   cameras blanketing our campus, helping to make Eastern one of the safest university communities in Michigan. Also important in this effort is our partnership in the Eastern Washtenaw Safety Alliance, in which we are collaborating with the community, Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, and Ypsilanti Police.
  • The indoor practice facility, also known as “the bubble,” which is rented out to the community nights and weekends to pay for its maintenance.
  • The success of the Autism Collaborative Center, located in the old Fletcher School.
  • The beautification of the campus grounds, from landscaping and berms to rocks and trees.
  • Environmental and sustainability efforts that have reduced our energy costs from $11 million from when I started to between $7-$8 million now.
  • The TRUEMU communications campaign and the ability to capture the distinct perspectives of Eastern students, faculty, and alumni and share them with the rest of Michigan.
  • The 127-percent increase in financial aid, which has grown from $21 million to $48.5 million next year. Financial aid helps our students stay in school and persevere toward a degree and a career.
  •  We successfully completed Eastern’s comprehensive campaign, "Invest. Inspire." The goal was $50 million and we raised $56 million one year early.
  • Hiring an outstanding leadership team, with skilled and talented professionals in key University positions…the best people I have ever worked with.

One member of the leadership team is someone I have worked closely with for several years, our Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Kim Schatzel. As of tomorrow, she will add the title of Interim President to her other responsibilities. Provost Schatzel has done an impressive job leading the academic and student affairs areas since her arrival at Eastern in January 2012. We have worked closely together in the weeks leading up to today to ensure a smooth transition, and I know she will continue to provide great leadership and support for all of our efforts.

In closing, I thank you all for your steadfast support. None of the items in this impressive list would have happened without the leadership and passion of the Eastern team, and without the participation of thousands of students, faculty and staff across campus, as well as our alumni and people in our community who care about and love Eastern.

On a personal note, I have a new best friend at home. He is a golden retriever puppy named Teddy. He joins our growing family. When I was inaugurated, I had one grandson. We now have four grandchildren and a puppy, along with my three children. Life is good for my beloved husband Larry and me.  

On Sunday night, I went to my Welch Hall office to pick up my green and white bike as I prepare to move out of the office. I rode the bike home to University House, spinning around the campus as fireworks were popping and lightning bugs were glowing up from the grass. It was a lovely denouement moment.  I had tears of joy at all we accomplished together and in wonder of how we got it done. It was our love of Eastern that pulled us forward. 

Eastern’s future is bright. I will treasure my seven years as your President.

Sincerely,

Susan Martin

To view the video of the presentation of accomplishments that was provided at the last Budget Forum/University Update on June 17, please click on the video link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuFqtbOOshM&feature=youtu.be&t=35m35s