President Martin's Message on "the New Normal" for Higher Education

by Susan Martin,, Published January 20, 2011

President Susan Martin

Good morning, Students, Faculty and Staff,

Many of you may have watched or heard Governor Rick Snyder's inaugural State of the State last evening. His statements were clear -- reinventing Michigan will require a period of adjustment and sacrifice. With the state facing a budget deficit of $1.8 billion, the Governor challenged the people, businesses and institutions of this state with a message that the old way of doing things in Lansing will not solve the budget deficit and he will look to bold restructuring to erase the deficit and prepare Michigan for a more dynamic and prosperous future. It is clear from the State of the State presentation last night, and from a meeting I attended with Governor Snyder and Michigan's other 14 university presidents last week, that as every rock is overturned in a search of budget restraint, higher education will be considered in the mix. Yet, it is also clear that Governor Snyder is a Michigander who was schooled at public universities and values education and hopes to be able to reinvest in education in the future. I hosted the Education Policy Roundtable for Governor Snyder in October 2010 at the Student Center where he engaged in a dialogue with leaders in education from P-20 and those leaders provided numerous recommendations for him to consider in education policy that can advance education in this state. Governor Snyder told the public university presidents that he considers us a "world-class asset" and that universities are usually behind entrepreneurs and INNOVATION that he consistently trumpets as necessary for reinvigorating Michigan's economy.

With this new future ahead of us that includes tighter budgets and the anticipation of less funding from government, at least in the near term, it is important that Eastern maintain the positive growth and momentum we have achieved over the last two years. This includes the enrollment growth of nearly 7 percent as we emphasize the accessibility, affordability and quality of the university; investment in new faculty -- 46 last year and 30 searches this year; and the revitalization of campus as evidenced by the new addition to the Science Complex and the dynamic learning environment we have created, improvements to residence halls and grounds, and the complete overhaul and renovation of our largest classroom building, Pray-Harrold, to be completed this fall. From 2008-2009 through 2010-2011 to date we have grown by 6.8 percent recovering over 35,000 of the 56,323 credit hours that were lost from 2003-2004 to 2008-2009. The "Invest.Inspire." capital campaign has already raised $39.7 million toward our $50 million goal and we will need the financial support of the Eastern family of alumni, faculty, staff and friends to afford the investments we need to make in more financial aid for our students, supporting our faculty, renovation of our facilities and to assure our future is bright.   

It is important that as we address a future that may include further state funding reductions for all of Michigan's universities, we at Eastern determine priorities that will allow our growth and success to continue. This will require a more comprehensive strategic planning process to identify our key growth areas and guide our reinvestment to our strengths. We can not afford to sit back and wait for change to come to us, to be forced on us. We must lead the change through effective planning and dialogue with all of our key partners -- students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. We must maintain the strong excitement and morale that brought over 1,700 of us together to form the "big fat zero" cheering Eastern's bold leadership in these extraordinarily difficult economic times. School spirit and pride never mattered more than now. GO EASTERN!

The Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based, private, independent foundation that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school, has developed a phrase I like that describes the restructuring that must take place. Lumina calls it "the new normal," and recently unveiled a project titled "Navigating the New Normal" I encourage you to read the report. Lumina's goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Michigan currently stands at 35.6 percent of adults with college degrees -- 34th in the nation. We will need to graduate an additional 1,322,257 degrees, 9,722 each year between now and 2025, to reach Lumina's goal of 60 percent. Lumina also poses productivity measures and metrics to reward increases in degrees and certificates awarded, to support lower costs per degree without sacrificing access or equity, and to ensure that academic quality continues to improve.

I remain committed to accountability and transparency. We will be discussing and working together to step up to the challenges of "the new normal" this semester and through the next year. We plan to host additional budget forums and communications opportunities to share and discuss the challenges ahead and our efforts to lead the change and to get your ideas, input and support. While it will require some difficult conversations, we will strive to do so in a positive way that allows us to continue to build on the positive momentum we have established in the past two years and move this great historic public university forward.

Thank you, and as always you can reach me at

Sue Martin

Susan Martin,

Make a Gift
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • youtube
  • linked in
  • Blog EMU
  • EMU app