First week on campus

July 12, 2016

Dear students, faculty and staff:

It is a distinct honor for me to join the Eastern Michigan University community. Our University has a long and outstanding history, and a great future ahead. I am proud to serve as Eastern’s 23rd president.

As you might expect, my first week has been spent unpacking, getting acclimated to our new home and the new office. I want to thank everyone for the many kind notes and warm messages I have received. I am very much looking forward to meeting more of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and supporters in the weeks and months ahead. I know we will have many opportunities to do so, an early one of which is at the ice cream social scheduled for Thursday at 1 p.m. on the patio of the Student Center. If the weather does not cooperate, we will move inside the Student Center. I encourage you to stop by, get some cool treats and say hello.

Many people have asked me about my agenda and priorities. I tell them this: My priority over the next several months is to meet with as many people from across campus as possible. I plan to listen a lot during those meetings, with the understanding that  the best way to learn about this great university is to listen and learn from the people who are here and are part of our success. I want to learn more about what is working well, along with the opportunities to make Eastern even better. This is going to be a central focus of my initial months here.

In addition to our outstanding academic programs, I also am looking forward to learning more about our successes and emphasis on the arts – including forensics, theater, music and dance.

My focus during the beginning months will be to look at the many, many areas that unite us. This is an effective way to keep all of us focused on Eastern’s core mission – serving our students well, supporting them academically and financially whenever possible, and helping them graduate and move on to successful lives and careers.

I plan to communicate with you regularly about such matters, and also look forward to hearing from you.

I would be remiss if I didn’t address one of the most critical issues facing us today. As are most Americans, I am deeply troubled and saddened by the events of the past week. The deep level of distrust, anger, fear and violence is an issue that affects us all, no matter our community, background, upbringing or heritage. As Americans, it is my hope that we can do more to join together to eradicate hate, racism, cultural biases of all types and senseless violence. As a community of educators and students, our institutions of education play an important role in helping our nation build greater empathy, understanding and knowledge about these issues.

We must talk about the difficult topics, constructively confront the issues at hand and work to offer an environment from which real solutions and answers will flow. Eastern Michigan University will actively support and be involved in this process.

I look forward to working with you as we continue to create a new level of pride and recognition for our fine institution and for our outstanding faculty, our talented students, the supportive and caring staff and our outstanding alumni across the state, nation and around the world.

Thank you again for such a warm welcome to the Eastern Michigan University community. I hope to see you Thursday.

 Until then, Go Green!


James M. Smith, Ph.D.
President, Eastern Michigan University