President’s Report
Board of Regents’ Meeting

January 21, 2003

As I shared with faculty and staff in my end-of-the-year letter, one of the real joys of closing out one year and beginning another is the opportunity to reflect upon the past year, assess the challenges of the new, and to say “thank you” to those who have contributed so much to the success of the University. In my remarks today, I would like to briefly touch upon each of those areas.

EMU had a “banner” year in 2002. Taking the Banner software project from conception to implementation has required tremendous effort and sacrifice on everyone’s part as we have had to learn new ways of conducting business to serve all of our stakeholders. Last year we implemented the finance component and the initial admissions module, and I am pleased to report that the Banner HR/Payroll system has now gone live and is producing payroll checks which, after all, is the ultimate check on our capabilities! Banner Financial Aid is going live this week and a pilot group of faculty, representing all of the colleges, is working with a WebCT Vista implementation group on future academic projects. In the next several weeks we will be focusing on moving our students to the new Banner E-mail system in anticipation of going live with Web-based class registration in March. The University is indebted to those members of the various implementation teams who have faithfully stayed on task and ensured our success, despite many challenges and great complexities. Everyone is invited to join with the Banner HR/Payroll team to recognize their contributions at a reception immediately following the Board Meeting in 205 Welch Hall.

Two major initiatives in Academic Affairs, program review and the basic studies project, also have required exceptional effort on the part of those involved. As I am sure the Board would agree, putting ourselves under a microscope is not always the easiest or the favorite thing to do. But, our systematic assessment of academic programs will only serve to make us a stronger academic institution and ensure continuing accreditation. Likewise, the work that is being done to assess and modify our general education curriculum will help us achieve our strategic goal of being a model for undergraduate education.

Our strategic planning process continues to mature and evolve, thanks in part to the hundreds of individuals working on cross-cutting and departmental teams. One of the six key directions emerging from our first strategic plan was in the new area of continuous improvement, and I am pleased to report that following our administrative reorganization in the area, a University Continuous Improvement Advisory Committee has now been formed. That committee is charged with becoming more informed about continuous improvement models for higher education; orienting the campus community about continuous improvement; promoting an organizational culture of continuous improvement that is characterized by evidence-based planning and decision making; and providing advice as the institution explores the North Central Association Academic Quality Improvement Project (AQIP) accreditation process.
The second round of strategic planning has progressed to the point where 18 administrative divisions and colleges have submitted updated strategic plans and proposed initiatives. The University Strategic Planning Committee now has the daunting task of reading and evaluating initiatives found in more than 1,500 pages of material submitted by the various units. The committee is reviewing the plans and will develop an updated University plan to be completed by May.

On the subject of resources, you are all aware of the 2 percent cut to our state allocation that was necessary in order to balance the state budget. We are bracing ourselves for additional cuts as revenues continue to drop. Estimates from the State’s Department of Management and Budget are that an additional $1.5 billion will need to be cut–thankfully not all from higher education.

Over the past several months, the Cabinet has been working on various contingency plans to respond to these reductions. We are fortunate to have had the benefit of good planning, enrollment growth, and some foresight as we slowed expenditures and carried forward some funds to cushion the impact of these cuts. Fortunately, interest in the quality education we provide continues to grow in this environment. Participants in the Presidential Scholarship competition increased 17 percent this December over the prior December and, during last semester, the number of prospective students visiting campus increased over 10 percent from the previous fall. Although it is still early in the process, true freshman applications for fall 2003 are up 9 percent and transfer student applications are up 10 percent over the same period last year.

We also have, over the course of the last year, engaged in more aggressive cost savings/avoidance measures and revenue enhancement strategies. One that is on the agenda today is an innovative “school as lender” program that involves EMU administration of Stafford Graduate Loans and is projected to generate, over time, in excess of $500,000 annually, which will be reinvested to support our students through student financial aid programs on campus.

These and other efforts will help us absorb short-term budget reductions, but as larger and more permanent cuts take place, tougher and more painful reductions will be necessary. As always, our first priority will be to protect the quality and integrity of our academic product, but every area within the University will feel the impact. Our priorities will continue to focus on honoring our contractual obligations and avoiding layoffs; on our top strategic initiatives, especially those related to enrollment and retention; on health and safety; and on pursuing cost avoidance.

Despite the negativity in the national media about higher education costs and the challenges facing universities as they struggle with reduced state allocations, there is some good news to share. The report released by the University Investment Commission pointed out that an investment in higher education has great paybacks for the citizens of the state of Michigan. In fact, for each dollar invested, more than $3 are returned. The report also pointed out that although the state spends more than $33,333 of your tax dollars per year on a prison inmate, it only spends, on average, $5,795 annually per college student. That number is quite a bit less for EMU students, and about $1,000 less per student than many other states are paying. The report provides hard data for the new governor and state legislature to digest as they struggle with funding “value-added” enterprises like higher education.

As we assess our value to the state, we have much to point to as indicators of success for our students, alumni, faculty, staff and programs.

In the category of student honors and recognition, I am pleased to report that in last fall’s administration of the Michigan Tests for Teacher Certification, EMU students posted a 100 percent pass rate in one-third of the fields in which there were test takers. It also is noteworthy that Mark Oglesby, master’s candidate and social studies teacher at Howell High School, was recently awarded a coveted James Madison Memorial Fellowship. He is one of 56 national winners and the only Michigan recipient. The award recognizes outstanding social studies teachers and provides up to $24,000 to help them complete graduate studies in the field.
Alumni continue to earn honors and recognition as well:

- Robert O’Brien ’72, ’75, ’82, superintendent of the Huron Valley School District, was recently named Michigan “Superintendent of the Year” by the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

- Two alumni were recently honored by the Michigan Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Kirk Pederson ’95, an elementary physical education teacher in the Walled Lake District, was named the “Young Innovator of the Year.” Kamala Waryas ’89, a teacher in the Detroit Public Schools, was named Adapted Physical Education Teacher of the Year.

- Mike Flanagan, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators, has been appointed to serve as Education Advisor to Governor Granholm.

- Lisa Webb Sharpe, currently a trustee of the EMU Foundation and a 1985 graduate, has been named the Governor’s Cabinet Secretary.

- This week the President’s Council of the State Universities of Michigan has a new Executive Director, a 1974 master’s graduate of EMU’s educational leadership program. Dr. Michael Boulus is assuming the role of Executive Director for the public higher education institutions following successful experiences as Deputy State Treasurer for Education Policy and as Executive Director of the Middle Cities Education Association.

- Eight former Eastern Michigan University athletic standouts will be inducted into EMU’s Athletic Hall of Fame at an induction ceremony Saturday, January 25 at 3:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center Atrium. Inductees will include: William “Audie” Cole (baseball), Rena Cox (women’s gymnastics), Earl Jones (men’s track and field), Lanny Mills (men’s gymnastics), J.E. Morcombe (men’s cross country and track), Jim Pietrzak (football), Ron Rice (football) and Mary Smith (women’s tennis).

Our faculty, staff and programs continue to receive recognition. Yichun Xie, geography and geology, was recently named a Bai Ren Scholar by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. This is the highest award a scholar can receive in China.

EMU’s Checkpoint Program was selected to be included in a publication produced by the White House Drug Office. The publication will be used by college administrators to help them develop alcohol and other drug programs.

EMU’s Institute for Community and Regional Development was recently awarded over $500,000 as part of the 21st Century Community Learning Center program to help develop after-school programs in the Willow Run School District.

And, shortly before the semester break, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the selection of 20 OSHA Training Institute Education Centers, one of which reflects a partnership between Eastern Michigan University’s Center for Organizational Risk Reduction and the OSHA Motor City Education Center.

We are beginning the New Year with a robust set of student and academic programming activities. A week-long celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. culminated in yesterday’s highly successful MLK Day commemoration, including the annual President’s Luncheon which featured Dr. Manning Marable, Professor of History and Political Science at Columbia University. Throughout the semester there will be ongoing collaborative activity between EMU and the University of Michigan in the technology field. Our College of Technology and U of M’s College of Engineering are hosting their annual spring lecture series, which also is offered as courses through the Department of Interdisciplinary Technology at Eastern and the Center for Wireless Integrated Micro Systems at the University of Michigan. This year’s focus for the lecture series and courses will be on the impact of micro- and nanotechnology upon society.

McKenny Union and Campus Life recently hosted over 1,000 participants at events, including the highly successful Study All Night at the Union, winter orientation, holiday luncheons, and a Computer Brown Bag Lunch series. Over 600 high school students were hosted at last week’s DECA Conference.

These activities are excellent examples of the importance of having good facilities on campus, which, in the area of Campus Life, involves increasingly unavailable space. To correct this, we recently have taken an important set of short-term measures in dining services and are about to embark on a longer-term project which impacts the entire campus. Our new CrossRoads MarketPlace at Hoyt Conference Center will have its grand opening on February 13. In addition to the Einstein’s Bagel Factory, which opened last fall, the new MarketPlace will offer a large variety of options, complemented by a grocery to handle all of our diverse student shopper needs.
On today’s Board Agenda we are addressing the renovation of McKenny Union and the proposed construction of a new student union complex central to campus. It reflects considerable effort by students and various planning teams over the course of the last few years, aided by peer reviewers from other universities and expert planners and architects. The proposal addresses a long-standing need identified by students and others at EMU and will enable us to substantially enhance student life and services to our diverse student body.

As we further examine our facility needs, the Board’s authorization of a campus master plan project is proceeding on schedule, after having migrated from a focus on the west campus to a broader, long-term consideration of the entire campus. The University has now received proposals from four master plan development firms to assist us in this broad-based process, and these proposals are currently being reviewed by the Facilities Planning Committee.

Although the student union is not eligible for state funding, the other projects which have been identified in our capital plan continue to receive high priority consideration through our efforts in Lansing. We continue to push for alternative capital funding for the renovation of Mark Jefferson, as noted by the resolution before the Board today, and our Pray-Harrold renovation will continue to be emphasized in the new legislative session, after having been subject to a veto during the closing days of 2002. Both of these capital projects are highly needed for EMU given the condition of these rapidly aging facilities. They are essential for both our undergraduate and graduate programs as they house a substantial proportion of academic departments and serve as the primary sources for campus classrooms and laboratories. This year we also expect to make progress with the plan to renovate select classrooms and laboratories that was developed last year.

Today we acknowledge the many years of service to the Board by Bob DeMattia, whose term ended in December, and we welcome a new member to the EMU family, Sharon Rothwell. She has a distinguished record of leadership and service to state government that will be of great assistance to us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” The year 2003 may bring many challenges, but I am confident that with active campus involvement and this Board’s leadership we have within us the capacities, talents and direction to face them head on and emerge as a stronger University.