direct edit

Remarks to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education

April 20, 2009

Eastern Michigan puts education first, andit shows in everything we do. That's whywe take our role as educators seriously. Wehave a strong commitment to provide our studentswith a practical education that benefits ourstate and our communities.

Eastern is truly a Michigan university. Ninety percent of our enrolled students are from Michigan and they stay in Michigan after graduation, becoming highly productive members of our workforce and lifelong contributors to our communities. Eastern Michigan's alumni are a powerful, positive force for change and an important force in Michigan's economy. Eastern has 105,000 alumni living and working in Michigan. One out of every 4 teachers in Michigan was educated at Eastern Michigan University.

Higher education will play a critical rolein Michigan and this nation's economicrecovery. President Obama set a goal in hisaddress to Congress that the United States wouldhave the highest proportion of college graduatesin the world by 2020. To meet this goal, wemust strengthen our universities to educatemore students with an affordable and accessiblemenu of academic programs. Eastern has a longtradition of being accessible and affordableto Michigan citizens.

I am an example of Michigan's excellenteducational system. I attended a one-room schoolhousein Croswell, where my teacher happened to bea graduate of Michigan State Normal College – nowknown as Eastern. I attended Central MichiganUniversity and Michigan State University withstate support. I've spent my adult lifeworking in Michigan in state government as anauditor, deputy state treasurer and as commissionerof revenue for Governors Milliken, Engler, Blanchardand Granholm, and as Chair of the State of MichiganHospital Finance Authority for the past 20 years.I have worked as a faculty member, departmentchair, and Executive Associate Vice Presidentat Grand Valley State, Provost at the Universityof Michigan-Dearborn, and now President at EasternMichigan University. I want to thank the citizensof this State for my education and wonderfulcareer by telling you today that I will notaccept a salary increase for FY 2009-10 to domy part to keep college affordable.

Eastern appreciates the support through federalstimulus dollars to hold state funding at 2008-09levels for this year and 2009-10 and 2010-11.Eastern Michigan University administration isconcerned about the challenge that will resultentering 2011-12, when the stimulus money runsout. A 3-percent cut in FY 2010, if combinedwith a similar backfilled cut in FY 2011, couldleave state universities facing an overall 6-7percent decline in state appropriations forFY 2012, when the stimulus money is exhausted.The proposed 3-percent cut to Eastern'sstate appropriations would be $2.4 million inFY2010. The Governor's proposed tuitionfreeze and 3-percent cut would cause EasternMichigan to face a budget deficit of approximately$12 million, based on our existing budget, sowe are grateful for any stimulus funding.

I must also appeal to you to continue the King/Chavez/ParksInitiative Program. At Eastern Michigan, thisimportant program helps fund twelve graduateassistants and seven students assistants whorun programs specifically geared toward disadvantagedstudents. Last year alone, this program assistedmore than 1,700 low-income students and reachedout to 644 new freshmen probation students whomight not have remained in school without intervention.

My final request is that this new Legislaturedeals with the Michigan Public School EmployeesRetirement System (MPSERS) problem. EasternMichigan University is one of the "MPSERSSeven,"– public universities participatingin a state retirement care program that escalatesin cost. The impact of the MPSERS problem onEastern's budget for FY 2009 alone is$3.56 million.

We must keep Eastern Michigan University affordableand accessible. We have increased the amountof money for scholarships, implemented EnergySavings Days, and have identified ways to dobusiness more efficiently. We will continueto be aggressive in cost containment and toseek new ways to efficiently manage our limitedresources.

Eastern Michigan sees a rare one-time opportunityfor the state of Michigan to address significantpent-up demand for capital improvements on Michigancollege campuses and to assist our state universitiesin the retrofitting of older buildings withmoney-saving, energy-efficient technology thatwill reduce energy consumption and costs overtime. As the state's second oldest publicuniversity, Eastern has several renovation projects,including a science complex, designed and readyto employ workers. This project will put peopleto work, help our state economy and provideour student population with greatly improvedfacilities in which to study and live that facilitateresearch and keep us competitive.

Eastern Michigan broke ground last Fall ona self-funded $90-million project that createsmore 70,000 square feet of new laboratory andinstructional space and renovation of the MarkJefferson building in the new science complex.This is a historic project in several respects.It is the largest single construction projectin the history of the University. But more importantly,this science complex will help Eastern meetthe state and national need for more teachersin science, technology, engineering and math.As a leader in science education, we are buildingon our strengths.

Eastern Michigan has submitted the renovationof the Strong Hall science building as its nextstate-supported capital improvement request.When completed, the $38-million, LEED Silver-certifiedStrong Hall project will provide modern educationaland research facilities for Geology and Geographyand the Physics and Astronomy departments. TheStrong Hall project is also the final pieceof the science complex.

Last year's capital outlay bill was thefirst time in 12 years that Eastern Michiganhas received state funding to make a capitalimprovement. Since 1993, state universitieshave averaged 5.1 state-supported capital projects.However, Eastern has received only three state-fundedprojects during the same period. This leavesEastern in immediate need of additional stateinvestments simply to catch up to the capitalresources of its peer institutions. A FY 2010capital outlay improvement bill that includesproject approval for Strong Hall will put EasternMichigan at a competitive edge to attract facultyand students who are innovative, creative andable to tap their "heads" to pullMichigan ahead.

I would like to thank Governor Granholm andour legislators for the capital outlay fundsto modernize our Pray-Harrold classroom building.This is one of the largest classroom buildingsin Michigan, servicing more than 10,000 studentsa day in peak time, and we thank the legislatureand the Governor for supporting this project.We also hope that many of our shovel-ready projectsthat will produce guaranteed energy savingswill qualify for support and funding under thestimulus package. As a historic institution,we have many wonderful buildings that need energy-savingsrenovation as soon as possible.

Universities are the prescription for our economicills. Consider Eastern Michigan's characteristicsand special values. We offer academic excellence,especially in education, health and human services,science, art and music, and in business anda broad array of more than 200 programs. Employerstell us that more of our students "hitthe ground running" because of our faculty'sindividualized attention and our University'sextensive community engagement. Eastern Michiganalso has adapted to changing market demandsby offering new coursework and new ways of deliveringeducation.

Again, one in four teachers in Michigan isan Eastern graduate. That means Eastern Michigan-trainededucators are a driving force in our state'sefforts to develop its knowledge economy. Easternalso is a national leader in preparing highly-trainedspecial education teachers—an area wherethere is a critical shortage.

Our new Autism Collaborative Center will focusour expertise on the needs of Michigan familieswith autistic family members from ages 3 to26. When Eastern Michigan approved its new master'sdegree in autism spectrum disorders last year,it was a major step in addressing a growingneed for services for children affected by thedisorder. The Autism Collaborative Center isa partnership between Eastern and St. JosephHealth Systems that will provide treatment,outpatient services and support systems forpeople with autism and their families. Whenfully operational in Fall 2009, it will offertraining for students from eight disciplinesacross three Eastern Michigan University colleges,conduct research into treatment options, andprovide much-needed affordable care. There areapproximately 4,400 autistic individuals inthe seven counties around Eastern Michigan thatcan be served by the new Autism CollaborativeCenter.

A recent report to the Michigan House HealthPolicy Committee states that Michigan'sdemand for registered nurses is expect to exceedsupply by 7,000 nurses in 2010. There will bea shortage of 18,000 nurses by 2015, accordingto the Michigan Department of Labor and EconomicGrowth.Eastern's School of Nursing faculty haveexpanded their programs to provide some muchneeded help to ease the situation. In 2009,Eastern Michigan is increasing its bachelorof science in nursing (BSN) program by 32 students(80 to 112, a 40-percent increase) and by 70students in our RN-to-BSN program (58 to 128students.) This increases our BSN program from138 to 240 students in one year.

One of the quality indicators of any nursingprogram is the pass rate of students on theNational Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).Our percentage of nursing students who passedthe exam on the first try was 94.2 percent fromOctober 2007 to October 2008. The average forMichigan nursing programs was 87 to 88 percent.

Part of the nursing shortage stems from a lackof qualified educators at the state'stwo-and-four-year nursing programs. Simply put,universities are turning away qualified applicantsbecause their programs can't accommodatethem. Eastern Michigan would like to thank theMichigan Department of Community Health forits grant to support 16 "fast track" studentsto earn a master of science degree in nursingand become nurse educators.

To address the nursing shortage, Eastern Michiganwill launch a doctoral program, the first ofits kind in the Midwest, to prepare nursingfaculty. The program expects to admit 15 nurses,who already hold master's degrees, toearn doctoral degrees and train the next generationof nurses.

Eastern's faculty members are also achievingsolid results with grant-supported researchand programs. For example:

  • The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to our faculty to develop the Detroit Mayor's Youth Technology Corps. The program provides Detroit high school students with training and hands-on practice in a variety of Information Technology management tools.
  • astern Michigan faculty will use a Department of Education grant to help math, science, social studies and language arts teachers integrate English-as-a-second-language teaching into their specific content areas.
  • Eastern's School of Engineering Technology faculty are using a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop novel polyester polyols and their derivatives to formulate environmentally-friendly and sustainable coatings.
  • The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and our health education professors are working with Lincoln Consolidated Schools in Ypsilanti to bring a wellness program to 1,770 elementary school children, teachers and school employees.
  • The Great Lakes Urban Teacher Consortium (DREAMS) grant will allow Eastern faculty to address significant issues affecting the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act;
  • With faculty support, the Comprehensive "Wrap Around" Social Services for High-Risk Teen Parents and Their Families program is expanding services for some of the state's most vulnerable families.
  • Eastern Michigan scientists will use coupled remote sensing to biologically monitor invasive plants and measure their impact on the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.
  • Eastern Michigan and WWJ Newsradio have teamed up to offer educational tips and advice to help parents complement and extend the learning their children receive in school. Topics provided by EMU faculty offer tips about math, science, technology, writing and reading, and learning beyond the classroom walls.

Our Center for Entrepreneurship is extremelyactive and provides curriculum, research andeconomic development support for entrepreneurs,faculty and students. Its economic arm is theMichigan Small Business and Technology DevelopmentCenter.

Through the Development Center, Eastern Michiganoperates six offices in Wayne, Oakland and Monroecounties, and provides no-cost services to entrepreneursand small businesses. Services include freebusiness plan development, marketing researchand training. The center has counseled 757 clients;provided support for 41 new businesses; helpedcreate 251 new jobs, and preserved 163 jobswith technical assistance in effective businessmanagement and support through $6 million innew financing.

Eastern is a major partner in the Eastern WashtenawLeaders Group, which is actively involved instimulating our regional economy. Our facultyand administrators are playing key roles onthe group's committees dealing with education,collaboration/redevelopment and business incubatoropportunities. This partnership has led to theSPARK East business incubator in downtown Ypsilanti,which is open for business right across thestreet from our College of Business. The incubatoralready has four tenants.

The University also has a formal agreementwith the Workforce Development Board and otherMichigan Economic Growth Authority partnersto work together in education, economic/communityand workforce development to provide businesssolutions to employers in Washtenaw County.

Partners include the leadership of the Ann Arborand the Ypsilanti Area Chambers of Commerce;Ann Arbor SPARK; the Michigan Economic DevelopmentCorporation; the University of Michigan BusinessEngagement Center, and the Washtenaw CountyWorkforce Development Board – MichiganWorks! Agency, which is a partner of WIRED Region(Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development.)

Eastern's emphasis on beyond-the-classroomexperiences for students is a vital part ofour curriculum. The Carnegie Foundation forthe Advancement of Teaching recently selectedEastern Michigan University to receive its 2008Community Engagement classification. This classificationprovides national recognition of EMU'scommitment and impact in improving the livesof individuals and the community, and as a meansfor enhancing learning. For example:

  • Our students have contributed more than 38,000 volunteer hours in the community through our program, Volunteers Incorporating Service Into Our Neighborhoods, or more popularly called VISION.
  • Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels and Eastern Michigan's 34-year partnership was recognized as a finalist in 2007 for the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award for Campus Community Collaboration.
  • Eastern's Dining Services prepares meals at cost for Meals on Wheels, while VISION volunteers deliver meals and support the operation of the organization.
  • Eastern's Upward Bound Program has a 41-year partnership with Ypsilanti and Willow Run High Schools to prepare students for academic excellence, global citizenship and lifelong learning through academic support and tutoring.
  • In a rare opportunity, our historic preservation faculty helped present a case to the Secretary of the Interior for designating the 1812 River Raisin Battlefield in Monroe as a National Park. Congressman John Dingell facilitated the meeting. The ultimate goal is to get approval for the site as both a National Historic Landmark and possibly a National Park.These efforts have brought Eastern Michigan University national recognition for scholarship and citizenship. For example:
  • Eastern Michigan was recognized as a "Best Midwestern College" by The Princeton Review for the sixth straight year.
  • For the fifth consecutive year, The Princeton Review recognized Eastern's College of Business as one of the "Best 296 Business Schools" in the nation.
  • This is the third year that our University has been named to the President's Honor Roll by The Corporation for National and Community Service. The Honor Roll recognizes colleges and universities nationwide that support innovative and effective community service and service-learning programs.

In countless ways, Eastern Michigan Universityis helping to positively transform our schools,environment, communities and state.

Eastern strongly recommends the developmentof a plan that will increase support for Michiganstudents of modest means to attend Michiganuniversities. We must protect and reinvest Michigan'sgreat asset of strong universities in orderto be competitive with other states in attractingbusinesses and jobs. Universities are a magnetto draw jobs.

Now is the time to invest in Michigan citizensby investing in higher education.

Just as Eastern has always targeted and servedMichigan citizens, let's use the stimulusmoney to help relieve the tuition burden forour Michigan families and students in a meaningfuland important way. Let's use the stimulusdollars to reinvest in educational facilitiesthat need refreshing in a sustainable mannerthat saves energy and reduces our dependenceon others and the pressure of those cost increasesupon our budgets. Let's meet PresidentObama's goal to have the U.S. producethe highest proportion of college graduatesby 2020. Michigan must not continue in lastplace in support of college education. At Eastern,we educate Michigan citizens who stay in Michigan.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtube
  • linked in
  • Blog EMU
  • EMU app