by Geoff Larcom, Published April 19, 2010
YPSILANTI - Eastern Michigan University officially kicked off the public phase of the largest comprehensive campaign in its history today, announcing a fundraising goal of $50 million to raise money for scholarships, academic programs, faculty, facilities and endowments.
The broad outreach effort, which involves alumni, faculty, students, staff and supporters, is called “Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University.” The public phase of the campaign lasts three years.
Arkansas native Rodney Slater, a scholar-athlete, member of the national champion forensics team and captain of the football team for Eastern Michigan in the 1970s, is chair of the campaign. Slater served as secretary of transportation during the Clinton administration.
“Eastern is the bridge that connects my early years in Arkansas to where I am today,” Slater says. “What I learned at Eastern helped transform me, and I want to make the transformation possible for other students. I think a lot about this institution and the lives it has changed. I want all of our graduates to reflect on the connections Eastern provided for them.”
Slater, now a partner with the Washington, D.C., law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP, said the campaign represents the beginning of a long-term fundraising effort for Eastern Michigan.
“Our success in the short-term is just the beginning,” he says. “I hope that this effort lays the groundwork for a long-term campaign structure that will provide the foundation for continued and ongoing capital efforts in the future.”
“This is a special day for Eastern Michigan,” President Susan Martin says. “We look forward to connecting with alumni and supporters to benefit our students and faculty in a variety of important ways. This major effort focuses on developing resources and programs that will help Eastern train a wide variety of students to be central contributors in shaping Michigan’s future. The campaign is particularly important during these challenging economic times.”
The campaign will focus on three priorities:
1. Developing leaders for the 21st century. This involves support for programs that encourage leadership development and broaden perspectives. It includes independent research projects, volunteerism, global learning, and co-curricular programs that build leadership skills.
2. Connecting learning to community needs. This effort seeks to meld scholarship with real-world challenges and key community needs through support of specialized research and resource centers and practical internships.
3. Sustaining and strengthening the Eastern Experience. Eastern seeks to invest in the key elements of creating a top learning environment. That includes support of faculty and of their development, of scholarship, of financial aid and of innovative campus and residential life activities.
The campaign emphasizes several themes about Eastern, including:
Eastern is a gateway to opportunity. The University prepares the next generation for jobs and to strengthen the Michigan and national economy, training professionals in fields that include nursing, education, technology and business. Eastern Michigan is a stepping stone to careers in a knowledge-based economy.
Eastern represents Michigan at its best. Professors commit their careers to the future of Michigan, and students tend to remain in the state after they graduate. Eastern has an annual economic impact on Michigan of more than $3 billion.
As we look to the future, Eastern faces new challenges. There is a shortage of science and math teachers, nurses and other professionals. More than 75 percent of Eastern’s students work part time or take time off from their studies to meet financial obligations.
Slater said this is a dynamic time on Eastern’s campus for such a fundraising campaign. Renovations are set to begin this spring on the Pray-Harrold classroom building, and the new $90 million Science Complex, currently under construction, is EMU’s largest building project ever.
Eastern Michigan’s enrollment grew by more than 4 percent this year, and the University led the way last fall with a 3.8 percent increase in tuition, the lowest among the state’s 15 public universities.
“This is a time to take pride in our accomplishments, our history and our future,” Slater says.
The University began the comprehensive campaign with an organizational and planning phase in 2005. In July 2006, an “advance gift” or “quiet” period began, in which the University sought large donations to get the campaign off to a strong start. So far, the campaign has raised more than $33 million.
One of the leadership gifts was $2.2 million from the trust of renowned sculptor and potter Jean Noble Parsons, the largest gift of its kind in the history of Eastern Michigan University. The Jean Noble Parsons Center for the Study of Art and Science, which is located near Traverse City, will have a grand opening and dedication on June 5.
Dale Heydlauff (’78), senior vice president at American Electric Power Co., in Columbus, Ohio; and Jaclynn Tracy (’74, ’77, ’79) chair of EMU’s Department of Leadership and Counseling, will serve as vice chairs of the campaign. Delores (’62) and William Brehm, of McLean. Va., will serve as the campaign’s honorary chairs.
For more information about the campaign, see the EMU Foundation Web site at www.emufoundation.org or call 734.484.1322.