JUNE 25, 2002

This has been an outstanding year for Eastern Michigan University. Enrollment is up. Research activity is robust. Community partnerships are flourishing and our commitment to excellence continues to be recognized by numerous external agencies. As the academic and fiscal years draw to a close we have much to celebrate as we begin planning for the new year. One set of our most significant achievements this spring resulted from implementation of those components of the new strategic plan that address the needs of students.

Our enrollment, retention and student success initiatives are off to a very good start. The Transfer Center and commuter support services are in place, our Community College Relations Office is being directed by a full-time professional, and we expect summer session enrollment to be up nearly 10 percent.

The colleges and departments are doing their part this summer by offering programs that host high school and prospective EMU students on campus. The Summer Institute for Arts, Sciences and Technology began this week; the Technology Institute in Computers for Business and Marketing and the Technology Institute in Applied Polymer Chemistry will take place in mid-July; and our special Summer Institutes in Forensics and Theatre are underway.

The freshman retention rate has increased 2 percent and we are fully prepared to launch our new first-year student initiatives—a comprehensive “First Four Weeks” program to facilitate transition to college and meet student needs for academic and social integration, a new first year mentoring program staffed professionally, a virtual parents association and parents e-mail system (“E-family”), and new mailings to parents with tips for ensuring more timely degree completion. The Provost and I also have attended a series of workshops on the first-year experience and we expect to do more in this important area to enhance retention and timely degree completion.

These are very tangible products from our first strategic planning process, which is continuing with a new cycle underway. We are updating the environmental scan, conducting a study of the economic impact of EMU, surveying stakeholders and prospective students, conducting new external focus group sessions, and linking the recently completed institutional peer analysis with our planning process. To position ourselves for more effective data-based decision-making, we have completed the reorganization of the former Institutional Reporting and Budget Analysis Office; expanded and merged its institutional research mission with strategic planning under Don Loppnow’s leadership; and added information management, continuous improvement, and the analysis of student characteristics and needs to the mission of this new operation under the President’s Office. A search will soon be finalized for an Executive Director of Institutional Research and Information Management who will be responsible for these internal research and evaluation activities linked to the strategic plan and its implementation. Progress reports on plan implementation are being reviewed this summer and seven cross-cutting committees already are working on a plan update to feed into the next cycle of initiatives which will be developed within the various divisions beginning late summer and proceeding throughout the following year
When our returning and new students arrive in the fall, they will find substantial improvements in parking on campus. Contracts have been awarded and construction has begun on the new surface lots and resurfacing of the Sill Lot, refurbishing the main parking structure and improving Pine Grove and Cornell Court apartment lots. In advance of the construction of our new parking structure next year, we now have successfully completed the first phase of the paid reserved parking program for staff and faculty. These spaces have been in high demand and the revenue stream will be important to our overall parking improvement effort. In the meantime, the restoration of Hover, which will house staff relocated for the parking structure, continues on schedule for occupancy in late August.

I also am pleased to report that our very substantial Information and Communications Technology initiatives involving the implementation of new enterprise-wide administrative software are progressing well, with considerable help from scores of staff. In a few days, the financial services package of Banner will go online and shortly thereafter the student admissions module will be ready to process applications from new students.

The new employee wellness program got off to a good start this month with the arrival of Eric Ward, the new University Wellness Coordinator, and the successful Employee Health and Fitness Day event involving over 175 faculty and staff. Also new to the EMU scene is Linda Pritchard, Dean of Arts and Sciences, who joins us from Arkansas State University, Rachel Cheng, who is coming from Wesleyan University to assume the position of University Librarian, and Don Anderson, Director of Access Services. Congratulations also to our own Karen Simpkins, who has been appointed Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, and Polly Buchanan, named Interim Dean of the College of Health and Human Services.

EMU also has received some recent organizational recognitions by others in four specific areas: 1) the Washtenaw Development Council has conferred upon EMU the Work/Life Designation for our employee-friendly policies which allow for a healthy balance between the demands of employees’ work and personal lives; 2) the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) has recently recognized us for our “professional leadership, initiative and commitment to improving public accountability” as one of the first universities in the nation to have issued financial statements in accordance with new GASB standards; 3) the recent Auditor General’s report on charter schools has praised University authorizers for efficient and effective oversight of our charter schools; and 4) the Mid-American Conference recognized our comprehensive athletic programs for overall achievement in the Reese and Jacoby Standings, placing us third for women’s programs and sixth for the men’s, both ahead of other universities in Michigan.

Thanks to the hard work of faculty and development staff, since the Board last met we formally accepted a corporate gift from SBC/Ameritech to launch the New Teacher Resources Network, an online mentoring program for new teachers, and we dedicated the Ford Motor Company Learning Center, a state-of-the-art computer laboratory in the College of Business.

In the realm of personal kudos, the outstanding work of our faculty, staff, students and alumni continues to be recognized by others. To name just a few . . . Mike Grissom, who works for the EMU Police Department and the Dexter Fire Department, was recently named one of five firefighters of the year for his efforts at Ground Zero following the September 11 tragedy. Three alumnae have been named among Michigan’s most influential women by Crain’s Detroit Business—Elizabeth Lowery, Vice President of General Motors; Marilyn Wilbarger, Vice President of Grubb and Ellis; and Kathleen McCann, Senior Vice President of Seave Enterprises. Two EMU History professors recently received national recognitions for their academic achievements—Daryl Hafter won the Thomas Newcomen Award for research in business history, and Robert Citino had his fifth book chosen as a featured selection by the History Book Club. Also, a group of our graduate students placed fourth nationally in the L’Oreal online business competition.

In advance of closing, I want to mention two items of special significance on the Board agenda today. The first is the University’s new set of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action plans, the most comprehensive in our history. These plans are grounded in our key strategic direction on diversity, in legal requirements and in our detailed workforce utilization study completed and approved last year. These are the product of considerable review and constructive recommendations by many individuals and groups on campus. They make our commitment to acting affirmatively real.

The second is the University budget. It reflects flat financing from the State of Michigan as displayed by the current economy, and fortunately, it also reflects the fact that higher education, unlike other areas of state government, has been held harmless to budget cuts. This was a significant accomplishment for all involved—EMU and the other public universities, the Governor and executive branch leaders, and the Legislature. While it means that our budget, as recommended, will not include general increases for supplies, services and materials, it is a budget that will meet all of our personnel contractual obligations, avoid layoffs in the absence of future state cuts, keep EMU competitive for top faculty and staff, allow us to continue the important strategic initiatives begun this year, and appropriately serve our growing enrollments. It also expands our financial aid scholarship programs to enhance accessibility and relieve demands on students resulting from the national policy shift emphasizing user payments over general citizen support through taxes and appropriations. In order to achieve these objectives and balance our revenues and expenditures, we are relying on a diverse revenue stream, including increases in tuition and fees, without state penalties, and robust enrollment growth. This will maintain our current competitive position with other institutions in the State. We are continuing to look for opportunities to eliminate nuisance fees, such as the transcript fee, and we are not planning to increase the general fee or the technology fee this year. Enhanced student services and some initial set-aside funding to jump start the McKenny Union expansion are being funded through growth revenue instead. It clearly is in everyone’s interest to work hard on enrollment and student success initiatives in this challenging economic climate.

Building the foundation for private support is of growing importance at EMU. Despite the economy and September 11, we had positive growth in cash gifts to the Foundation and many more people in the EMU family have been involved with our development efforts. Pam and I continue to maintain a vigorous engagement calendar in our efforts to raise friends and funds for EMU and we encourage others to do so as well.

In closing, I want to acknowledge the leadership and support of the Board of Regents. I am very appreciative of your personal commitment to the mission of Eastern Michigan University and I look forward to our continued success.