JUNE 17, 2003

The period from mid-March, the time of the last Board meeting, through the end of the semester always brings a flurry of activities. This year was no exception and was perhaps even more frenetic as we were forced to juggle budget cuts along with year-end celebrations and the close of another academic year.

Clearly the state budget and the impact of lost appropriations have been foremost in our thoughts and activities. As I reported at the March meeting, we have taken a very strategic approach to address the anticipated reduction of more than $8.7 million in state appropriations.

We have squeezed dollars out of every budget, implemented energy-saving campaigns, sought out purchasing partners, eliminated travel and professional development programs, frozen open positions and, in total, eliminated 84 positions from an already over-stretched workforce in an attempt to reduce or avoid costs. And, we have ratcheted up revenue enhancement activities to stave off further cuts. We have done this within the context of protecting mission-critical programs, activities and services. As an institution that has been historically under-resourced both in terms of dollars and people, this has been painful, but it also has been achieved with great cooperation and innovative thinking across the campus.

I shared that sentiment with the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education as part of my testimony in May. Speaking candidly, I told the subcommittee that the current inequitable funding problems were the result of decades of financing higher education by politics not policy, exacerbated by the addition of the tier system–a system I believe is contrary to the basic principle that all Michigan students should receive equitable funding for their post-secondary education regardless of the institution they choose to attend.

I also told the subcommittee that differential cuts for state universities, such as those recommended by the House, made little sense and were poor public policy. I challenged them to find any rational explanation for a policy that would award one institution $3,629 for each of 238 new students while not awarding any relief to EMU for 254 new students.

My comments, and those of several of my presidential colleagues, found a partially sympathetic ear. The Senate version of the appropriations bill dismantles the tier system and attempts to set a per-student funding floor, but does little to address the gross inequities between the 15 public state universities.

The House and Senate versions will go to committee where differences will be hammered-out and a combined bill sent to the Governor. We continue to lobby for support during the process, but given the best of circumstances, our cut remains at $8.7 million. The University also faces an additional nearly $10 million in unavoidable cost increases for previously negotiated labor contracts, health care, financial aid and unfunded state mandates.

Two actions before the Board today, a request to implement an enhanced retirement program for faculty who have long service at EMU and are ready to retire, and one to increase tuition, will help us bridge the financial budget gap and provide the institution with strategic flexibility.

The first of these, the Employee Incentive Program, is for our long-term faculty who want to retire yet face the prospect of less than expected income due to declines in the equity market and economy generally. Our offer to the faculty is enabled by the Tax Reform Act which permits us to extend retirement fund payments, on a tax deferred basis, for five years beyond separation from employment. It is the right thing to do for our faculty and it is a strategy which enables us to realign resources, reduce faculty budgets without reducing positions, and avoid layoffs. The window for faculty to come forward and accept this plan is very narrow and must be achieved within the next two weeks.

We also have labored long and hard over how to best meet the needs of the University while maintaining our academic quality and EMU’s tradition of accessibility and affordability. We recognize that a tuition increase will have an impact on our students and we are prepared to help. More than half of our students, nearly 52 percent, receive more than $100 million in financial aid of some type. Since 2001, our campus-based financial aid budget has increased 68 percent. As currently projected, 16 percent of our tuition and fees for Fiscal ‘04 will go directly back to students through campus-based financial aid.

Since we have a robust agenda, I will shorten my report today, by mentioning several other developments for your information:

• An updated strategic plan was developed over the course of the last year and approved by both the University Strategic Planning Committee and the Cabinet this spring. Included in the plan are initiatives that advance each of the six university directions and those that are especially strategic in the current environment of budget constraints. The plan also highlights key areas that are important to sustain from the last planning cycle. We will have much more to say about the strategic plan as we approach the Fall semester.

• Explore Eastern, the Presidential Scholarship Competition and campus visits all experienced at least a 15 percent attendance increase over last year, spring and summer enrollment is up, and we are on-target to meet budgeted goals for Fall semester.

• Today we are requesting the Board to approve a long-term lease to open a continuing education facility in Brighton. Scheduled to open in the fall, it will serve residents in the I-96, US 23 corridor area–one of the fastest growing areas in the state. Initially we will offer graduate programs from the College of Education and the College of Health and Human Services, and undergraduate programs from the College of Technology.

• The Advisory Board for EMU’s Jean Parsons Center for the Study of Art and Science located in Lake Ann, has appointed the First Artist in Residence for the Center, sculptor M. Catherine Shinick. Ms. Shinick received degrees from both EMU and the Rhode Island School of Design.

• Four very comprehensive guaranteed maximum price design/build proposals for the new student union and the reassignment of McKenny space have now been received, and a structured blind review of the proposals will take place over the course of the next week.

• EMU is collaborating with the Washtenaw County Health Department, the University of Michigan, and our local hospitals to effectively develop a preventive plan to address the outbreak of SARS worldwide. To date, EMU has established a website for updated information and travel advisories, conducted information sessions for employee groups, and developed a pre-arrival plan for incoming students this fall.

• The results from the April 2003 Michigan Test for Teacher Certification have been posted and I am pleased to announce that once again EMU graduates continue to do well. We had a 100 percent pass rate in 14 of the 37 fields tested and were at or above the state pass rate in 31.

• EMU’s baseball team won its first MAC championship in 21 years and earned its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1982. The women’s track team also won the MAC Championship.

• We launched a reformatted magazine as part of a new communications plan for University Advancement. More than 105,000 copies of THE EDGE were mailed in May to friends and alumni of the University. The printed version of the magazine will be supplemented by a monthly electronic issue which we will launch this week.

• Students from our Historic Preservation program are helping to restore a British cannon that may be as much as 276 years old. The 1,325-pound cannon was recovered from the Detroit River in 1987 and bears the broad arrow of British government weapons manufactured between 1727 and 1760. When restored, the cannon will be housed at the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing.

• For the second consecutive year, EMU won a Work/Life Balance Designation Award from the Washtenaw Work/Life Consortium. EMU was recognized for providing comprehensive health and dental coverage, paid sick and vacation time, an employee assistance program, on-site childcare, recreational facilities and flexible scheduling.
As indicated in our regular Information and Communications Technology (ICT) update for the Board, all elements of our plan are on course. Especially noteworthy is the successful implementation of online student registration and additional web enhancements that enable students to access course confirmations, bills, unofficial transcripts and financial aid accounts on the web, and the completion of the second round of computer replacements in our Refresh Program, which included ten academic labs available to students. Our Banner Student Process Team is being recognized by the Board today, and a reception for team members, to which all are invited, will occur across the hall immediately following our meeting.
Other milestones in our continuous improvement efforts include the following:

• Accreditation of our College of Education Clinics by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

• The University is proceeding with the conversion to distribute student financial aid refunds electronically through the University’s new Eagle Express Card. Our previous card is being replaced by a new “One Card” that all students will receive and will accommodate all of their card needs. This is a significant time saver and service enhancement, eliminating the printing and distribution of over 16,000 checks and the lines that students previously encountered to receive their financial aid refunds.

• Results of the third Student Services Satisfaction Survey are now completed and they demonstrated a double digit increase in the levels of student satisfaction with services in financial aid, registration, records, advising and student business services. Some of the services involved in the study include telephone service, forms clarity, accuracy of information, speed of service and staff service attitudes.
The spring has been an excellent time for fundraising at EMU, and April was an especially productive month–our most successful in seven years. Several highlights of our private fundraising include:

• An anonymous gift of $250,000 was provided to enhance the John W. Porter Endowed Chair in Urban Education to further support graduate student research in collaboration with the Porter Chair.

• An equipment gift-in-kind, a mass spectrometer, has been received from Pfizer and valued at $300,000. Pfizer also announced this year’s Pfizer Undergraduate Research Award winners, who represent the third group of minority undergraduates to benefit from the opportunity to conduct research with Pfizer scientists.

• We completed the second annual Walk for Women’s Athletics with more than 340 walkers and nine community sponsors who helped raise over $32,000 for student scholarship aid.
anticipated budget cuts.

• The College of Technology and its Coatings Research Institute and graduate and undergraduate programs in polymers and coatings have received an equipment donation valued at over $400,000 from the Eastman Kodak Company.
Many special events occurred on campus this spring. I will name just a few:

• More than 200 staff and faculty turned out for a first-ever EMU Pride Day for campus cleanup and beautification. Participants planted flowers, many donated by staff, and helped pick up litter around campus. A number of us also participated in the annual YPSI Pride Day. More than 2,500 participants from throughout the city and township turned out to plant flowers, pick up trash, sweep, paint, landscape and otherwise beautify the community.

• A group of 63 outstanding students and five brave staff members participated in our third annual EMU LeaderShape last month. This six-day, intensive leadership camp helps students to discover their guiding values and principles in the context of leading with integrity.

• The Office of Alumni Relations, together with the Development Office, has continued its energetic in-state outreach program and hosted alumni, donors and friends in downtown Detroit in early May, followed by our first ever alumni gathering in Grand Rapids, with a forthcoming one in Traverse City.

• EMU’s Center for Organizational Risk Reduction is a cosponsor of the Homeland Security Leadership Series in Detroit this month. Shelby Slater, an EMU alumnus, is Director of Detroit’s Office of Homeland Security. This event is the first of five programs to be conducted nationwide.

• Alumni, K-12 educators, community college educators, business leaders and public officials have been invited to learn more about EMU, strengthen relationships to enhance enrollment, gather data for future planning, and help assess institutional strengths and challenges in anticipation of submitting an application to the Higher Learning Commission for our regional reaccreditation process. Focus groups involving these individuals are planned for this week in Romulus and Troy.

• Also this week the Charter School Summer Fine Arts Camp is being held on EMU’s campus, involving 300 middle school students from around the state who will receive drama, vocal and instrumental instruction.
It is always a pleasure for me to share with you some of the honors and activities of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. Again, in the interest of time, I will mention just a few.

• EMU students Brett Pedersen and Chris Roberson won the 2003 American Collegiate Intramural Association’s National Fitness Championship in Orlando, Florida.

• EMU and Dr. Jerry Robbins, Dean of the College of Education, were invited to testify before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Work Force and it’s Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness relating to the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act Title II on Teacher Training. Dean Robbins was accompanied by Vice President Juanita Reid and recent graduate Sergio Garcia.

• At the recent National JazzWeek Summit, the nation’s jazz radio and industry conference, peers recognized Linda Yohn, Music Director at WEMU, as Programmer of the Year for smaller markets and WEMU was recognized as Station of the Year in smaller markets.

• Cathy Lower, our Director of Licensing, recently published her first book, “Creepy Colleges and Haunted Universities.” Along with co-author Cynthia Thuma, Lower chronicles “true ghost stories” as told across the nation’s college campuses. Eastern’s "ghost of Pease" is featured in the book.

• Carl Ojala, Professor in Geography and Geology, was named an Environmental Hero by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Ojala was honored for his tireless efforts to preserve and protect the nation’s environment.
Seven distinguished alumni were recognized during the 42nd Annual Alumni Awards dinner May 10. They included:

• Outstanding Young Alumni – Arthur Rockall and Dagny Rude

• Distinguished Alumni – Ken Bruchanski and Raymond Lombardi

• Distinguished Service Awards – Paul Tucker and Roy Wilbanks.
Four faculty were honored with Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Awards during EMU’s Salute to Excellence week. Those honored were:

• Joseph Csicsila, an Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature, who received the Teaching I Award,

• Jamin Eisenbach, Professor of Biology, who received the Teaching II Award,

• Catherin Bach, Professor of Biology, who received the Scholarly/Creative Activities Award, and

• Mildred Lintner, Professor of Computer Science, who received the Service to the University Award.

With Board action today, the University officially says goodbye to three outstanding leaders, Earl Potter, Jill Pollock and Carole Huston. Earl resigns as Dean of the College of Business effective this month to accept a position as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Southern Oregon University; Jill has just assumed her new position as Chief Human Resources Officer at the University of Cincinnati; and Carole Huston retired as Senior Women’s Athletic Director last month after 28 years in sports administration. All of these individuals have made positive contributions to EMU and I have been delighted to work with them. I know you will join me in wishing them well.