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June 21 , 2005
CONTACT: Ward Mullens


President's report to the Board of Regents

June 21, 2005

Thank you, Regent Valvo, and again, on behalf of Marilyn and me, thank you for the very kind remarks you made earlier and for the touching resolution you presented me on behalf of the Board.

Today marks my final official report to the Board as the 20th president of Eastern Michigan University.  In all candor, I must admit that when I made my first report to you last September after only 37 days on the job, I never expected that it would be as difficult to say goodbye to EMU as I am finding it to be.  In our 11 months as part of the EMU family, Marilyn and I have come to understand what those of you who work at, or attend or have attended EMU already knew—that this is a very special place.  But, as the author Ursula LeGuin wrote,"It is good to have an end to the journey, but it is the journey that matters in the end."

And, as I have said on many occasions, this has been a journey characterized by two words, “embracing opportunities.”

  • Embracing opportunities . . . to reach out to students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends,
  • Embracing opportunities . . . to focus on critical programs, activities and services, and
  • Embracing opportunities . . . to celebrate our strengths as a University.

Through the efforts of many—the leadership team, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends—much has been accomplished this past year.  Three issues that greeted me upon my arrival, a looming performance audit of University House by the Office of the Auditor General, a breakdown in the Student Union startup, and contract negotiations with the AAUP, were all successfully addressed.  I was especially pleased that classes started without interruption, and that as a result of discussions generated by the audit and contract negotiations several initiatives to strengthen the University were launched.  These include:

  • Revising business policies and practices,
  • Requiring more comprehensive and transparent construction project reports,
  • Improving communication between the Board and President,
  • Engaging the Board and President more actively in legislative affairs; and
  • Implementing a Presidential Commission on the Future of Instructional Delivery.

At your request, a major part my agenda this past year was to make “the President” available to listen to the concerns of stakeholders in order to rebuild trust in the office and pride in the institution.  To that end, in the 47 weeks since we arrived, Marilyn and I have hosted 77 events for 4,581 guests.  Additionally, we have attended dozens of student, faculty, staff, community and athletic events. I personally:

  • visited new freshmen in their residence halls as part of the House Calls program,
  • addressed the Chamber of Commerce and other civic groups,
  • spoke with local, state and federal legislators both formally and informally,
  • broke bread with some of the University’s harshest critics, and
  • even sang my way across the state as part of Measure for Measure.

In each case, my purpose was to embrace opportunities to engage individuals in honest and open conversations about the University.  It has been gratifying throughout these past months to witness the positive change in how people perceive the University, to hear people both internally and externally discussing “good news” about EMU, and to have been able to marshal initiatives that helped to refocus our efforts on mission critical services to students.

It has been equally gratifying to see Eastern Michigan recognized by national media.  This past year,

  • Kaplan Publishing named EMU as a “Best Value for Your Tuition Dollar,” in the Official Unbiased Guide to the 328 Most Interesting Colleges.
  • The Princeton Review named EMU as a “Best Midwestern College,” in The Best Midwestern Colleges; 150 Great Schools to Consider.
  • The College of Business was named an “Outstanding College of Business,” in the Princeton Review’s Best 143 Business Colleges.
  • EMU’s program for post-baccalaureate students was featured in the “Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Teacher,” by Ben Wildavaky and the staff of U.S. News and World Report.
  • EMU’s Center for Regional and National Security (CeRNS) was designated a National Center of Academic Excellence for Information Assurance Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); the only public institution in Michigan to earn that honor. EMU is the only state-supported institution in Michigan where a student can travel through undergraduate, masters and Ph.D. programs in information assurance. Others making the list for 2005 are California State Polytechnic University at Pomona; DePaul University (Illinois); East Carolina University (North Carolina); Nova Southeastern University (Florida); Oklahoma State University; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado.
  • The College of Technology’s master’s degree programs were ranked tenth in the “Top 25 Ranked Best Buys Online Graduate Degrees,” by geteducated.com, who also listed our master’s degree in engineering management as one of the top 10 “best buys” in the nation.
  • For the second consecutive year, “Black Issues in Higher Education” magazine has cited EMU for the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded to African American students.  EMU awarded 371 degrees in 2004, an increase of 7 percent from 2003.  EMU ranked first among MAC universities and third among Michigan universities, trailing only Michigan State and Wayne State.

This recognition comes in part because this is an institution populated by people with a “can do” attitude and an entrepreneurial spirit who, through hard work and creativity, continuously find ways to fulfill our mission.  Examples of this include:

  • The Washtenaw County/EMU Legal Resource Center where students from EMU’s paralegal program provide legal self-help information to county residents.
  • A collaboration between EMU Health Services and Concordia College to provide comprehensive health services to CC undergraduate students.
  • A partnership between the Center for Regional and National Security and the Michigan Citizens Corps to train high school students in how to be first responders in the event of an emergency.
  • A special agreement between EMU and Sallie Mae that will return about $2.7 million to students with loans through the company, and
  • EMU’s new online program for Army paralegals; one of only two such programs in the country to receive American Bar Association approval.

The year was marked by several milestones.  First among them has to be the groundbreaking for the new Student Center.  This facility has the potential for changing the orientation and culture of the campus.  It has been interesting watching the construction progress daily via Web cam on the University Website.

Other highlights of the year include:

  • The 25th anniversary of the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Symposium.  This jewel of our “Salute to Excellence” week is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, celebrations of undergraduate research in the country.
  • Our 15th annual Family Day program that drew more than 5,000 visitors to campus to explore ways in which “learning can be fun.”  Plus, 1,100 high school seniors came to take our test for scholarships.
  • The world premiere of “Soaring on Black Wings,” a theatrical tribute to the men and women of the Tuskegee Air Force directed by EMU McAndless professor and award-winning actor Ben Vereen.  The play was written by Vereen and EMU professors Wallace Bridges and Ken Stevens.
  • The 25th anniversary of Regent approval establishing the College of Technology, and the 150th anniversary of the introduction of music courses as part of the curriculum.
  • Exciting athletic performances included a sixth-consecutive MAC Championship for the men’s swimming team, an NIT appearance for the women’s basketball team, and numerous record individual athletic performances including that of EMU senior Lela V. Nelson who won a national championship in the heptathlon at the 2005 NCAA Track and Field National Championships in Sacramento, California.  Also, our women’s swimming team had the highest GPA in the United States.
  • Receiving record funding through the federal earmark program.
  • Closing the 2003-04 fiscal year with a balanced general fund budget and earning a clean financial statement audit that included no management letter comments, reflecting the strong internal controls that are now in place.
  • Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the University’s Double-A long-term debt rating.  In making the announcement, Moody’s cited the University for its “prudent fiscal management.”  Such external affirmations help to ensure our donors that we are worthy of their trust and are managing their dollars appropriately.
  • The EMU Foundation is poised to have either the first or second best cash years (FY 1995-96) in history, with contributions in FY 2004-05 projected at $4.7 million.  As of May 31, cash donations totaled $4,367 million with one month left in the fiscal year.
  • The successful completion of a new General Studies package that will give students more flexibility.  The new courses will have built in assessment tools which will help the University better assess student learning.
  • Sixty-one of the 74 faculty searches already have been successfully completed.
  • The Commission on Instructional Delivery, co-chaired by Provost Loppnow and me, has begun the dialog of how to standardize our course offerings, whether they are day, evening, weekend, off-campus and/or online—an important and critical project; and of particular import for the future of EMU,
  • The selection of John A. Fallon, III as the University’s 21st president.

The year was not without its challenges.  As you are aware, we had a number of staff changes that led to an unusual number of interim leaders—affectionately known around campus as the I-team.  As one of the members of this group, I am pleased to report that the I-team is getting things done and has created a climate for change that will serve Dr. Fallon well as he sets his leadership agenda and forms his own team.

Resource issues have been and will continue to be a challenge for the University.  In January, we were forced to eliminate 13 positions.  We are implementing another reduction in work force June 30 that will eliminate an additional 70 positions.  We have exempted faculty from these cuts in order to protect the core of our academic mission. But these cuts will stretch our already under-resourced staff to find new ways to deliver services.

Budget planning for FY 2005-06 continues as we await a budget from Lansing.  The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee passed its FY 2006 Higher Education Budget as part of an Omnibus Bill.  The House budget is based on a public university funding model, Workforce Investment Needs (WIN), which was introduced by House leadership in May.  The Bill provides funding for three components of the formula:  enrollment, graduation (number of degrees granted in specified fields), and research.  The Bill also eliminated funding for the King-Chavez-Parks program.  For EMU, the Bill provides $76,457,800 for operations and includes partial restoration of Executive Order 2005-7 reduction in the FY 2005 budget following the May revenue consensus (reduction of $746,000); reduction of $226,400 for EMU’s KCP program; and the addition of $745,800 for the three components of the WIN formula.

The Senate passed its FY 2005-06 Higher Education Budget, Senate Bill 273, on a 23 to 14 vote.  EMU would receive $76,115,400 which includes allocations for job placements; funding for degrees in engineering, technology and health; and research.

House and Senate bills will now go to a conference committee for consensus.  In any case, based upon expected increases in expenditures and projected revenues, the University is facing a gap of nearly $9 million in its operating budget.  Closing this gap will require additional cuts and most likely a tuition increase.  The Governor’s proposed amount for EMU is $75,712,000.  The difference between the high and low (House and Governor) is $745,800.

We are very cognizant of the impact any tuition increase will have on our students—many of whom work full-time in order to attend EMU.  We have added more than a million dollars to scholarships and financial aid to protect access to the University, but we are already witnessing the effect rising costs are having on student choice.

Despite record numbers of new student enrollments for Fall 2005, residence hall contracts are down as more and more students choose to live at home and commute to EMU.  To that end, we have decided to maximize our services to residents by taking the upper floors of Goddard Hall offline for Fall 2005.  This will result in significant savings to Housing, increase the level of occupancy in other housing properties and protect direct-student programs and services.

The continued disinvestment in higher education by the state will require the University to more activity seek alternative funding.  As I noted in an earlier report to the Board, the early stages for planning for a capital campaign are underway, as is planning for a bond issue to provide desperately needed funds to address physical facility issues.  The University can no longer afford to wait for the state to protect its physical assets.  A new science and technology facility and renovation of Pray-Harrold are essential to EMU’s ability to meet its mission.

To date, we have received gifts, grants and pledges of almost $600,000 for the EMU Science Initiative, which will help fund replacement of science equipment in biology and chemistry labs.

This year’s Faculty & Staff Giving Program has significantly surpassed the $400,000 goal.  Through May 31, gifts and pledges from faculty and staff totaled $432,955.  To date, 734 donors have participated.

A recent event honoring Vice President Emeritus Bruce K. Nelson raised more than $30,000 for a fully funded endowed scholarship named in his honor, and to establish the Bruce K. Nelson Faculty Development Center in the Halle Library.  The Center will serve as a central location for program support for all instructional faculty members and also will serve emeritus faculty.  Hosted by the EMU Foundation, the event attracted 220 friends, family and colleagues to the Convocation Center in recognition of Dr. Nelson’s service to EMU.

In other news of note from around the University:

  • Eastern Michigan University Children’s Institute received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  The NAEYC Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation administers a national, voluntary accreditation system to help raise the quality of all types of preschools, kindergartens, and child care centers.
  • For the second year, the EMU Convocation Center was the home to the Professional Bowlers Association World Championships.  The event, televised nationally on ESPN, brought the top PBA bowlers to EMU for two days.
  • More than 1,000 people turned radio into theater when they attended the taping of National Public Radio’s “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” at Pease Auditorium.  The event was hosted by WEMU.
  • The Career Services Center’s Michigan Collegiate Job Fair, in collaboration with the Michigan Association of Collegiate Career and Employment Services, sponsored both on-site and virtual job fairs serving more than 300 employers and 3,000 students from nearly 30 Michigan colleges and universities.  The virtual job fair has garnered the interest and support of Michigan Works and several governmental units are referring job seekers and employers to the fair.
  • The Career Services Center recently sponsored one of the largest teacher fairs in the country, attracting more than 2,000 teacher candidates from throughout the state and nearly 150 school districts.
  • University Health Services has received $93,495 in funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to function as one of six sites involved in FLU-VACS, a comparative study of influenza vaccines in adults.  EMU will be responsible for enrolling and following approximately 550 study participants.
  • University Housing, Physical Plant, Rec/IM, the Department of Public Safety and the VISION Office coordinated a Recycling and Reclamation project during residence hall closing in April.  More than 1,000 pounds of food, 150 bags of usable clothes and a variety of area rugs, furniture and small appliances were collected and diverted to Food Gatherers and the Homeless Empowerment Relationship Organization (HERO).
  • The Student Success Office saw an increase of 120 percent in the total number of student visits compared to last year.  More than 6,400 students visited the office this academic year.
  • A few weeks ago 48 students and five staff members spent six days together off-campus, exploring concepts of ethical leadership as part of EMU's annual LeaderShape Institute.  The personal goals and action plans that students develop at LeaderShape have led to tremendous positive impact on campus over the past five years.  Students have created new organizations such as the Poetry Society, our national poetry slam championship group and Women of Proverbs.  LeaderShape inspirations have also resulted in students presenting exciting cultural events such as the International Student Association's Colors in Harmony and the Color of Drums annual event.
  • The EMU Alumni Association recognized several outstanding alumni at the 44th Annual Alumni Awards Dinner April 30.  Honored this year were: Outstanding Young Alumnus Award—Charles Batch,’97, a quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers; Alumnus Achievement Award—Patrick Gannon, ’92, solution sales representative with Microsoft Corp., and Annette Sabo Johnson, ’94, educator and administrator with Olathe District Schools in Olathe, Kan. Distinguished Alumni Award winners were: Woodrow R. English, ’75, Official Bugler of the United States of America who performs with the U.S. Army Band; and Roy McCalister, Jr., ’77, a veteran of the U.S. Army and Detroit Police Dept.  Honored with the Dr. John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award were Robert L. Johnston, retired vice-chair of Gerber Products Co., and EMU Foundation trustee emeritus, and Rick Ross, ’75, ’77, ’85, a highly respected coach, counselor, teacher and administrator during a 30-year career with Lincoln Consolidated Schools in Ypsilanti.
  • More than 2,000 students participated in Spring commencement ceremonies.  John Stewart, an EMU graduate and state representative from Plymouth, served as the speaker for the morning ceremony.  David Canter, senior vice president for Pfizer Global Research and Development, was the featured speaker in the afternoon.  Canter was awarded an honorary doctorate of science.  The University also awarded an honorary doctorate of public service to Eleanor Josaitis, co-founder of Focus: HOPE.
  • EMU’s Forensic Team swept the Michigan Intercollegiate Forensic State Championships. In addition to winning the team sweepstakes, EMU captured eight individual state championships.  Earning first place honors were:  Nicole P’Simer, prose and informative; Mike Marion, programmed oral interpretation, rhetorical criticism and poetry; Rashon Massey, dramatic interpretation; Cris Griesinger, after dinner; and Kyle Zrenchik who teamed with P’Simer for a first place in dramatic duo.
  • EMU’s CrossRoads MarketPlace was named one of the Best of the Best C-Stores (convenience stores) by the National Association of College and University Food Service.  The award, recognizing CrossRoads’ outstanding marketing and merchandising, will be presented July 11 at the NACUFS annual conference in New Orleans.
  • EMU earned a 2005 Healthy Workplace Award (gold) from the Washtenaw County Public Health Department.
  • Neva Baron, academic adviser in the College of Arts and Sciences, was named one of eight outstanding academic advisers nationwide by the National Academic Advising Association.
  • EMU senior Lela V. Nelson earned a national championship in the heptathlon at the NCAA Track and Field National Championships in Sacramento, Calif. Nelson finished the event with 5,878 points, winning by 84 points over Georgia's Jessica Stockard.  The heptathlon consists of the 100M hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200M run, long jump, javelin, and 800 M run.  Nelson's national championship was just EMU's second-ever such honor; Mireille Sankatsing won the 800M championships in 1992.  Nelson also earned All-America honors for her third place finish in the long jump, with an EMU-record leap of 21'3.5".
  • EMU women’s basketball standout Ryan Coleman was named a finalist for the Kodak/Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-America Basketball Team.  Coleman was one of 48 finalists.
  • Eastern Michigan University softball players Liz Flack and Nikki Denman have been named to the Academic All Mid-American Conference softball team.  Denman, a junior pitcher/utility player carries a 3.74 GPA and was also an Academic All-MAC honoree last season.  Flack, an All-MAC second team selection at third base this season, carries a 3.71 GPA.  Both are recreation and parks management majors.
  • Eastern Michigan University's men's and women's swimming teams were both honored by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) for their academic performances on the Academic All-American list for the Fall 2004 semester.  EMU's women's team had the highest grade-point-average in the nation, compiling a mark of 3.56 as a team.  The men's squad had the eighth highest GPA in the country with a tally of 3.20.
  • EMU senior tennis player Victoria Domina of Argentina was named First Team All-MAC for the second straight year.  She was the only conference player to repeat the feat.
  • Senior Ben Jones was named to the 2005 Academic All-Mid-American Conference baseball team.  Jones carries a 3.91 GPA in marketing.
  • Seniors Sara Delaney and Lindsay Boik, and sophomores Lisa DeJules and Mandy Fahrer were named to the National Scholar Athlete list by the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association.
  • The men’s golf team earned its best finish in the MAC in 24 years with a second-place finish in the 2005 championship.  Senior Tyler McDannold led the Eagles with a third-place finish.
  • Chris Roberson was drafted as the 23rd selection of the seventh round of the NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Head Wrestling Coach Charles Branch was selected as one of two college coaches to lead a National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Team on a 10-day tour of Beijing, China, June 13-22.
  • EMU will host the inaugural Big Day Prep Showdown at Rynearson Stadium August 27.  The event will feature eight area high school football teams.  The event is sponsored by the Detroit Metro Sports Commission, Comcast Local, WXYT AM 1270 and the Detroit Free Press.
  • Jeffrey Bernstein, associate professor of political science at Eastern Michigan University, has been selected as a 2005 Carnegie Scholar by The Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).  Bernstein is one of only two faculty members in Michigan named and one of 21 scholars selected from more than 300 U.S. and international applicants.
  • Raymond Rosenfeld, Fulbright senior specialist, was selected by the U.S. Department of State and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars to lead a Public Management Summer Institute in Latvia.  Rosenfeld is the interim department head and professor of political science.

Our alumni continue to bring recognition to the University.

  • Daniel Guernsey was named president of Ave Maria College.  Guernsey earned his doctorate in education at Eastern Michigan University.
  • Alumnus Loren D. Estleman, Michigan’s master of suspense, released “Little Black Dress,” his fifth installment in his series about professional hit man Peter Macklin.
  • EMU alumnus Jeffrey Bradley, a Slauson Middle School science teacher, was named one of five finalists for the 2005-06 Michigan Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education.
  • Mike Flanagan, a ’71 graduate and the former head of the State Association for School Superintendents, was selected as Michigan’s State Superintendent of Education.

In closing, I would like to thank the Board for providing me this opportunity to serve EMU, and I want to thank the Regents for their hard work and caring during a challenging year.  It has been a rewarding, albeit sometimes challenging, journey.  Marilyn and I are most appreciative of the many wonderful individuals who have made us feel welcome and whom we will continue to count as our friends.  The students are superlative—moving forward in tough economic times.  Many are working at two or three jobs to make ends meet.  The faculty, department heads, and deans make the place hum academically.  The staff work many extra hours to make EMU the special place that it is.  As I have said on many occasions, I wish EMU and the Willises had found each other sooner.  Eastern Michigan University will always have a special place in our hearts.  Thank you.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

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