President’s Report
Board of Regents’ Meeting

Nov. 19, 2002

November 19, 2002At this time of year it is always appropriate for us to take stock of all that one has to be thankful. Due to the hard work of faculty and staff, we have had an outstanding Fall Semester. EMU has record-high student retention rates; the highest freshmen entrance test scores in five years; enrollment is up despite a drop in the number of international students being awarded visas to study in the United States; our students are taking more courses, allowing them to expand their knowledge and for the University to meet critical budgetary needs; and our two major initiatives, the Banner implementation project and strategic planning, remain on target. New initiatives to support the Strategic Plan are being developed institution wide and will be submitted before the end of the year, and all of our Banner initiatives, including new systems in human resources, payroll, financial aid, admissions, and alumni and development are on schedule and within budget.

Many individuals throughout the campus community, including students, faculty and alumni, as well as our programs, are receiving recognition for their quality activities and support for student learning. EMU Athletics was recently recognized by USA Today and the NCAA for its academic achievement among Division I-A institutions. We were the first in the nation among all 325 programs for having the greatest percentage increase in student athlete graduation rates, and fourth in the nation for the greatest percentage point difference between the graduation rate of student athletes and the entire student body.

Our student writers are also excelling and achieving national recognition. Five members of the editorial staff of the Eastern Echo recently traveled to Orlando for the annual meeting of the Associated Collegiate Press and the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, and at the awards ceremony, the Department of Student Media was presented with four national College Press Awards for excellence, including three Pacemaker Awards, considered to be the Pulitzer Prize of college journalism.

Two of EMU’s Charter Schools were recognized last month through receipt of the Governor’s 2002 Golden Apple Award in recognition of significant improvements in MEAP scores. The Edison Oakland Academy in Ferndale and the Great Lakes Academy in Pontiac received awards and $10,000 to be used for school improvement.

Our graduates also continue to excel. Two metro area teachers, both EMU graduates, earned $25,000 Milken awards, which is considered the Oscar of the teaching profession. Elementary teachers Jennifer Murphy of Waterford and Stacie Smith of Detroit joined 21 other EMU alums as winners of this prestigious award; no other institution in the country has as many Milken award winners.

The achievements of our faculty often go unrecognized, partly because there are so many achievements. Several that have occurred recently are Suzanne Hobson’s (Leadership and Counseling) receipt of the Human Rights Award from the Michigan Counseling Association and the publication of scholarly books by Gregg Barak in Sociology and Karen Sinclair in Anthropology.

The EMU community is not only thankful for the quality work of so many, but we also are generous in our support for others. This month we set a record for United Way contributions, both in terms of participation, which is now at 45 percent of the faculty and staff, and the amount of dollars raised, which is now over $150,000. We also set a University record with 51 Leadership gifts. And, as we closed this outreach campaign to our broader southeastern Michigan community, we also kicked off the annual Faculty and Staff Campaign to support EMU programs and students. The University is fortunate to have strong internal support for the institution, with last year’s Faculty and Staff Campaign yielding $335,000. The goal this year, under the leadership of John McAuliff and Amelia Chan, is $375,000.

Several new program developments are of special note this fall. We have achieved continued accreditation of the Athletic Training Program by the Commission for the Accreditation of Programs in Allied Health Education, accepted responsibility to serve as the international headquarters for the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities and to host next year’s annual conference at Eagle Crest, and we have crafted formal agreements with Tianjin Commerce University in China to offer an EMU MBA for their students, combining travel by our faculty to China and distance courses in Ypsilanti for their students. We also developed an agreement with both Tianjin and Beijing Normal Universities to offer dual economics Master Degree programs. In our College of Technology, we have launched a new accredited Aviation Degree program that is a joint effort between the University and the Eagle Flight Center, the pilot training school at Willow Run Airport. Its goal is to prepare students for the more than 50,000 new airline pilot positions that are forecasted to be available throughout the next decade. And, EMU recently received a $25,000 gift from the DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund to enhance the Honors Program and support undergraduate research activities by Honors students.

This fall has been an extremely busy one that has been filled with important events throughout the campus. We hosted a very successful Family Day program that brought more than 5,000 children to campus for an afternoon of fun, learning, and exposure to EMU. We celebrated our annual Salute to Excellence, a program that recognizes all freshmen scholarship recipients. More than 700 people participated in the program during which the Presidential Scholars are officially presented to the campus. New this year was the addition of Donor Recognition Awards and the introduction of Exceptional Educator Awards for high school teachers and counselors. At this event, the University honored the Sallie Mae Foundation and Coca Cola for their support of EMU scholarships.
We welcomed back alumni and friends for Homecoming 2002 and as part of the festivities, six outstanding faculty members were honored with Teaching Excellence Awards. Linked to these events, our increased marketing and enrollment activities have spawned a growth of interest in the University as witnessed by more than 600 students attending Explore Eastern Day and a record number of high school students attending our Eastern Fridays program.
Increased interest in the University has been sparked by a new set of handsome and integrated publications that include our undergraduate viewbook and graduate marketing brochure. They will be delivered to some 90,000 prospective students.

During this period and in preparation for the Winter Semester, our Academic Advising Center has advised in excess of 1,000 freshmen, marking the first time that freshmen are required to have an advising session before initiating their second semester of study.

Another first at EMU is our new House Call program sponsored by the Housing Department. It is designed to help ease the transition of freshmen students to college by helping them feel more welcome in their first four weeks on campus. At this year’s kickoff event, approximately 50 staff and faculty knocked on the doors of residence hall students to offer their support, a kind word, and a check on their adjustment to university life.

In recognition of our efforts to strengthen volunteer support and private fundraising, the College of Arts and Sciences recently completed an intensive development workshop, which included more than 50 faculty, staff, development officers, alumni, donors and key Arts and Sciences volunteers. College-based activities like this will play an important part in our constituency-based fundraising program to bring donors closer to EMU by emphasizing the quality of academic programs and their linkages to them.

The University continues to make effective use of our Convocation Center facilities for a combination of athletic, academic and entertainment events. The Convocation Center recently hosted the Biomed Expo, which drew more than 600 scientists and business leaders to the campus, and the Center was the site of two recently sold out entertainment events featuring country music star Toby Keith and pop artist John Mayer.

Future seasonal events for the campus community calendar include our annual Thanksgiving luncheons scheduled for this Wednesday and Thursday, a faculty brunch scheduled for Eagle Crest Golf Club on Sunday, December 1, and EMU’s all-campus reception on December 13.

Our good news on campus and the progress we are making in Washington, D.C. is also accompanied by less than good news from Lansing. The State continues to witness significant revenue declines, and given that the constitutional mandate to balance the State’s budget, we are very likely to see an appropriations cut for the public universities in the near future. The State has not yet completely balanced its last fiscal year budget, and as a consequence, is not likely to fulfill its agreement with the public universities which held down tuition increases in exchange for a flat State appropriation. The likelihood of a second and subsequent budget cut also looms for the spring, especially since state revenues are so far behind in the early part of the new fiscal year. In anticipation of this, we have expanded our campus-wide contingency budget planning from one emphasizing 2 percent budget cut scenarios to those which recognize the possibility of cutting as much as 5 percent over the course of the next year. If this materializes, it will be very onerous for EMU as we historically have been underfunded given our mission, size, and complexity.

At the same time, we now have made our resource situation for the next fiscal year known to the State through our annual appropriation request. While it recognizes the State’s budget shortfall, it clarifies for the State the impact of our fixed costs, the decline in State support per EMU student and what the State should have provided us for enrollment increases, EMU’s cost avoidance initiatives, and our continuing strong support for student access through financial aid during a time of tuition increases which help to compensate for declining state support.
The University’s FY2004 resource needs that have been transmitted to the State identify $11.8 million, of which 88 percent or $10.4 million are for fixed, contractual costs and student financial aid. Financial aid has been a critical part of our strategies for keeping access high, consistent with EMU’s mission. Our objective is to continue to be comparatively affordable, even as tuition increases are necessary in reflection of the State’s economy. We have made it clear to the State that our intent to support student access is serious, both in dollars and effort. This year, for example, the Office of Financial Aid processed an excess of $100 million in student aid, marking the first time in our history that we have exceeded the $100 million mark. Aid has increased in excess of $20 million over the previous year, primarily in federal financial and institutional student support. Combined student aid is expected to grow to $115 million this year. This does not include other advantageous student support programs, such as multiple indirect student financial aid programs like the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit, IRA education accounts, penalty-free IRA withdrawals and student loan interest deductibility provided to students and their parents.

The University’s state appropriation now accounts for only 36 percent of our operating budget, excluding restricted grants and gifts. EMU ranks in the lowest third among public, four-year institutions in state appropriations and in tuition and fee costs, leaving EMU students among the lowest funded on a per student basis in the State and making our wide array of programs comparatively more affordable.

Our appropriation request submitted to Lansing also makes it clear that a state investment in Eastern Michigan is an investment in Michigan’s economic future. According to the economic impact study commissioned by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan, the State’s investment of $1.5 billion in higher education in 1999 had a net impact on Michigan’s economy of $39 billion, representing almost 13 percent of Michigan’s gross state product that year, roughly equal to the entire State budget. For each dollar of State support, the public universities overall generated at least $26 of economic impact. In a soon to be released study on EMU’s economic impact, we will show that for every dollar of State support to EMU, the University generates between $30 and $32 of economic impact on the State’s economy. Few, if any, other public investments realize a rate of return of this magnitude.

Cost avoidance initiatives are continuing, with over $1 million in annual savings secured to date and the identification of potentially another one-half million dollars in process. The most noteworthy include securing lower natural gas pricing in future years and lower telephone costs annually for three years.

In conjunction with our usual budget cycle in Lansing, the University has now submitted its capital needs to the Department of Management and Budget, identifying the modernization of Pray-Harrold and the renewal of Mark Jefferson as the top institutional priorities. We continue to emphasize to the State that capital outlay needs at EMU are high, especially given the fact that the average age of our campus buildings is over 50 years, that renovation investments at EMU will produce substantial future cost savings in energy, that our classroom and laboratory learning environment is not state of the art, that interest rates for borrowing funds are highly favorable, and that capital outlay should be an important part of regional economic recovery.

Finally, the efforts of the 15 public universities, through the Presidents Council of State Universities of Michigan, have been buoyed recently by the public announcement and issuance of a comprehensive report on Michigan public higher education by the University Investment Commission, a coalition of business, civic, education and labor leaders from across the State. The University Investment Commission Report, about which we will be hearing much more over the course of the next few months, advocates an increase in the State’s investment in our public universities to help hold down tuition increases, to expand access, and to improve infrastructure. It also discusses the importance of measuring institutional progress for achieving economies, effectiveness and quality, and it sets much higher sights for the State to achieve four-year and higher degrees in greater numbers to help move Michigan forward from its relatively low degree attainment level and to help keep the State competitive and more economically secure. Through the work of the Presidents Council, this independent Commission should be very important to the future of higher education at the same time that our Council work signals new levels of commitment and cooperation among our public universities.

This winter and spring will be very dynamic times for higher education as we deal with an economy in flux and many new leaders in State government. Fortunately, the Investment Commission report recognizes the importance of universities like EMU to the State’s future and we are poised to deal with uncertainty by having a strategic plan to guide us. EMU is flexible and filled with creative people who are able to respond to these challenges.