These are the remarks of Dr. Samuel A. Kirkpatrick during his first address of the EMU Board of Regents meeting June 20, 2000:
In my first president's report, I would like to congratulate, recognize, and thank those who are making Eastern Michigan University a special place; to tell you about how I am approaching the task of learning about the University and its many stakeholders; and to highlight several institutional milestones reflected in the Board of Regents' agenda today.
First, I would like to congratulate Jan Brandon on her appointment to the Board of Regents and to thank her for her service to Eastern Michigan. She brings the perspective of a graduate, a civic leader and a parent of college-age students to her alma mater. Our entire University family welcomes her with open arms.
Pam and I also felt that embrace as we joined the University community over the past month. We are learning that there are many dedicated and talented faculty and staff who are professionally committed to the University and its betterment; that students are open, eager to learn and willing to be of service; and that the broader community values EMU and cares deeply about what it does. We have been especially impressed by the Midwestern friendliness of those on and off the campus, and the extent to which so many have assisted with our transition.
In the life of the University, there are too few occasions for us to recognize exemplary performance by those who make the institution what it is today and who are tending to its future. I extend my personal congratulations and, on behalf of the entire University, best wishes to the faculty and staff whose achievements are recognized in the agenda today - to faculty promoted in rank, tenured, granted sabbaticals and awarded Faculty Research and Creative Activity Fellowships, and to the faculty and staff who are being recognized by emeritus status.
At the last Board meeting, Larry Smith was formally recognized for his 25 years of distinguished service to the University. Since then, his friends have raised more than $100,000 to endow a scholarship in his name. This is his last official meeting, but his contributions are with us forever and the scholarship is a wonderful legacy. We thank you Larry and our donors.
I would also like to thank the many faculty and staff who are helping me gain knowledge of EMU - its people, programs, opportunities, challenges and dreams. There are many ways that one can learn about an institution. I favor those which are systematic, broad-gauged, personally engaging, data-rich and both formal and informal. In addition to personal time I have spent with the executive team early-on, I am working my way through a series of institutional briefings and conversation sessions that touch on all functions of the organization and ensure that I learn about programs from those most directly responsible for them, and where feasible, in their setting. In fact, not one of these is taking place in the President's Office. This is a demanding set of tasks for all involved and I appreciate how informative, professional and open the sessions have been.
A related effort is equally important - the development of a communications and engagement plan for how best to personally learn about and interact with the institution's stakeholders, both internal and external, their roles in our future and their perspectives on our opportunities and challenges. We all tend to be captured by events and our calendars. Pam and I want to take advantage of events, but we also want to engage more systematically with the university community and not miss opportunities for personal interaction. As a consequence, a team of ten faculty and staff are working with me to help ensure this and to influence my schedule over the next six months.
As I indicated at the time of my appointment, I also will benefit greatly from the North Central Association accreditation self-study process that is underway at the University. It involves a 30-member steering committee, ten working committees, and faculty and staff in all department/units who are crafting self-study reports. This collegial process offers robust opportunities for participation in these introspective tasks as we prepare for visitation by peers next spring. This is an ideal opportunity for me to learn and for us to craft a more systematic strategic planning process and visioning exercise which charts our collective future through the first decade of this new century.
The Regents' agenda today is longer than any in recent memory and the Board needs to attend to its business. I will simply draw your attention to a few items which in certain ways are milestones for EMU.
The first is a mission milestone - progressing from single doctoral status to instituting our second doctoral program in less than a decade. This is a threshold for any university and one which is especially critical to Eastern Michigan as we target selected areas for advanced graduate work and research entrepreneurship that address regional, state and national needs in innovative ways. This new program will enhance EMU's focus on real-world applications and our strong undergraduate programs, further addressing unmet needs in Michigan's mental health system, and will respond to strong student interest. It is also significant because this proposed program in Clinical Psychology is our first Ph.D. program and one not directly linked to the historical strengths of our teacher preparation programs, as is our first successful doctorate in educational leadership. As we now begin to span the institution beyond the walls of one college, we all must ensure that there are appropriate institutional policies and practices to support doctoral programming, the highest caliber graduate faculty and an enhanced research posture, including peer-reviewed extramural funding which will alter our current mix of support so characterized by contract activities. Our regional accrediting agency will be especially interested in this important transition.
A second set of milestones relates to our quality undergraduate mission, the importance of community in our learning environment, and student leadership development and its application to the community where we live. Because of our commitment to rich student life experiences and the demand we have been facing for residential space on campus (e.g., last fall we opened with 300 students on a waiting list and current dorm contracts are running 200 ahead of last year), the Board's agenda today includes the first new student residential facilities in more than 30 years - a cluster of six housing structures and a student commons with occupancy scheduled for fall of 2001.
As an aside, I would like to note that both the new Marshall College of Health and Human Services building and the restored Boone Hall are on schedule to begin occupancy next month and that our physical plant staff, in concert with outside contractors, are aggressively at work on restoring Pray-Harrold from the destruction experienced in the April fire. Faculty and academic department staff are to be commended for the positive manner in which they have responded to the inconvenience of having to relocate to temporary office space for the summer months. This work will completed in time to reopen for fall classes.
We also will have enhanced student programming this fall to enrich the on-campus services provided to student organizations and activities by the Dean of Students, and new opportunities for student leadership development and community service will be coordinated by our VISION program.
These developments also are fueled by strong enrollment growth that is on schedule to meet our budget goals. Freshman, transfer, international and graduate applications have all increased this year, and we have a stronger qualified freshman class, with a 10 percent increase in students whose GPAs are 3.0 or higher. Overall, we expect that enrollment will exceed 23,900.
Both new and returning students will be greeted by our new degree navigator system that will enable students and advisors to view progress toward degrees at their convenience through the Web. We expect this system to dramatically improve the advising process by providing easy access to information that can help students toward quicker completion of their degree program.
Finally, we anticipate a milestone budget to support this enrollment, although the State's contribution to it is still being deliberated this week in Lansing. The Governor's recommendation in the executive budget included a 3 percent increase or $45 million for state universities. The Senate and House subcommittees have agreed on an appropriation target that is $56 million more than the Governor's recommendation. Within this, the Senate recommended a 10.5 percent increase for Eastern compared to a 6.5 percent House recommendation.
The total budget recommendation also is contingent upon the Board's approval of the recommendation for 2000-01 tuition and registration rates and the assumption that the FY 2001 State Appropriation will amount to $88 million, an increase of $6.09 million or 7.4 percent over the FY 2000 appropriation. Overall, the recommendation for approval of the 2000-01 general fund operating budget is in the amount of $163 million, which is a $9 million or 5.8 percent increase over last year.
As the Board considers these milestone opportunities for EMU, we recognize their commitment to quality higher education and thank them for providing the leadership so essential for our future. It is an ideal time to be at Eastern Michigan University and I am honored to be a part of this University family.