PRESIDENT'S REPORT

EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY

BOARD OF REGENTS' MEETING

November 26, 2001

 

As the end of the fall semester rapidly approaches, I want to focus briefly on the commitment and accomplishments of EMU students, faculty and staff over the course of the past two months. Secondly, I want to look forward and provide a progress report on our institution-wide strategic planning and those key elements we will be implementing throughout the remainder of the fiscal year.

This fall the University has witnessed important acts of caring and generosity that are the hallmark of the EMU family. The campus United Way Campaign raised more than $126,000, with both record contributions and participation, up more than 10 percent over last year, and with the number of leadership givers more than doubling. Our first Walk for Women's Athletics was a big success, raising more than $20,000 and attracting several hundred people for a wellness fair, breakfast and fundraising walk for student scholarships. As indicated in the EMU Foundation Annual Report, we enjoyed another year of record giving, with just more than $12M in private support for EMU. And we are once again in the midst of our Faculty and Staff Campaign, celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, under the able leadership of Dr. Amelia Chan and John McAuliffe. The highest institutional priority this year is scholarships for students and we hope to increase the participation rate to support this and related institutional priorities.

We also have seen an outpouring of caring beyond that which I reported at the time of the last Board meeting in direct response to the tragic events of September 11. Our students have been especially active in Red Cross blood drives, in joining with the College of Education faculty and alumni to provide a truckload of educational supplies for New York school children, and through the Golden Key Honor Society's "America United" quilt flag project. Student involvement and programming have also grown during this period. Applicants for the Michigan National Guard Tuition Grant program have increased dramatically. Our Centers for Corporate Training will host a major public and private sector conference on terrorism in the homeland this week. And our students and faculty are using these events as a "teachable moment" in American History. Two examples both involve field trips to "ground zero"&emdash;the Eastern Echo student staff had a first-hand look at New York City, subsequently developing a series of stories in a special edition of the Echo, and a group of journalism students visited the site and later conducted additional interviews on campus with specialists in terrorism, psychology and history, to yield a series of reports to appear over time.

Indeed, there is no more important time for us to comprehend these events or for us to understand each other as global citizens in a diverse world. Just as we have advocated caution nationally in the development of barriers to our historic commitment to international student exchange and openness, we have taken opportunities on campus to protect our international students and to use these events as an educational tool. During International Week in October, we highlighted more than 1,150 international students, faculty and staff during a week full of cultural, educational and entertainment activities. We also showcased our institutional commitment to diversity and our leadership in curriculum diversity by hosting a national conference featuring Harvard Professor Cornel West.

All of these activities I have mentioned involved teamwork and collaborative accomplishments, reflecting a spirit of generosity and cooperation that makes EMU so successful. Before moving on to future plans, however, I want to note just a few personal accomplishments.

During our successful homecoming ceremonies, the Alumni Association gratefully recognized faculty for their teaching excellence. The honorees included Jamin Eisenbach, Biology; Gary Evans, Communication and Theatre Arts; Thomas Hennings, English; Joe Braden, Marketing; Carol Haddad, Interdisciplinary Technology; Robert Kreger, Special Education; and Sandra Nelson, Nursing. Kudos also to two students, Corey Roepken, who won honorable mention in this year's Associated Collegiate Press Story of the Year Competition, and Boaz Cheboiywo who led our cross country team to a MAC championship, won first place in the Midwest NCAA regionals, and most important, won the NCAA Men's Cross Country National Championship.

I am also pleased to introduce to you our latest senior staff appointee, Jill Pollock, who just this week assumed responsibilities as Executive Director of Human Resources. Jill comes to us most immediately from a similar position at the University of Detroit Mercy, and has an extensive history of leadership and involvement in human resource and organizational management consulting activities, coupled with more than a decade of senior management experience at Ford Motor Company.

As we look ahead to the new year, we can expect many new developments that will further strengthen EMU and support its mission. Following a year-long, comprehensive strategic planning process and high involvement from all of our stakeholders, we are ready to move forward with our first phase of implementation and with a period of further study and evaluation to complement it. The University Strategic Planning Committee received a large number of worthy initiatives to support the six key strategic directions articulated at the outset of the year. After considerable deliberation it produced a detailed strategic planning document which has been generally endorsed by the Cabinet, resulting in a set of specific endorsements and funding approvals that will be relayed to responsible campus administrators shortly, followed by articles in Focus. With over 50 strategic initiatives receiving endorsement and often budgetary support for the remainder of the fiscal year, the list is obviously too large to report in detail today. However, I would like to touch upon key themes and more comprehensive initiatives linked to each of the directions.

The first key direction is that EMU will be recognized for its strong undergraduate programs, co-curricular activities, and student support systems. Indeed, this has emerged as a top priority and one most in need of stronger resource support. Over the course of the next year we will create collegiate academic advising centers; make freshman orientation mandatory; develop a first year experience mentorship program; expand supplemental instruction; produce a comprehensive student handbook; establish a commuter center and a transfer center; expand our community college articulation and transfer programs; proactively communicate with potential returning students; jump start a Summer Institute in Forensics, Media and Theatre; and engage in general education curriculum reform and planning for heightened honors program development.

Our second objective is to be recognized for the synergy of theory and practice as we build our graduate and research programs. To this end, we will continue to develop our new doctoral programs, faculty and library holdings in Clinical Psychology and Technology; identify our management and computer information systems degrees as a Center of Program Excellence in the College of Business; expand our capacity in geographic information systems by strengthening programs and creating an Institute for Geospatial Research and Education; seed the development of new graduate certificate programs; redesign our graduate assistant stipends; and develop a plan to enhance our graduate program marketing.

Eastern Michigan will also become a model for public engagement and linkages with the broader community. In support of this public engagement direction, we will continue to give high priority to our expanded development and alumni programs; a new and more aggressive presence in the Nation's Capital; our marketing and visibility campaign; a more comprehensive academic program advisory committee system; new academic outreach programs in biology and writing; and a more integrative approach to academic program, research, and service in community building, civic engagement, academic service learning and non-profit leadership development.

As the University pursues direction four to become a model for the principles of diversity and inclusion, we will develop a comprehensive diversity, equity and inclusion action plan that flows from the Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Report, expand our Office for Access Services, regularize the leadership position for the Women's Studies Program, and pilot a new Summer Institute on Diversity.

As part of our desire to become a University with stronger global and multicultural perspectives, we have expanded student support through additional staff in a re-named Foreign Student Affairs Office, funded international student recruitment initiatives, piloted an International Cultural Competence Institute for our faculty and endorsed the development of an integrated, collaborative approach to international programming.

Finally, in pursuit of enhanced institutional effectiveness and continuous improvement, we have recently funded a comprehensive, enterprise-wide information and communications technology initiative; feasibility studies for the modernization of Pray-Harrold, McKenny Union and expanded parking; an additional regional site for Continuing Education in Detroit at the newly renovated Northwest Activities Center; and human resources process redesign. New initiatives that have been endorsed include support for a web services team to professionally design our portal; a funded program in staff development to include supervisory, customer service and new employee training; a wellness program available to faculty and staff; expanded institutional research capacity; a classroom upgrade study and plan; disaster protection for student records; an endorsement of interdisciplinary program faculty development activities and a redesign of faculty development programs.

Our implementation plan for all of these strategic initiatives, with accompanying administrative responsibilities, evaluation measures and funding support, will be issued in the near future. Although the list is long and represents a significant investment in our future from a variety of sources&emdash;state appropriations, tuition, fees, grants and gifts&emdash;it is also both cautious and insufficient given our aspirations and historic underfunding. It prudently takes the State's fiscal condition into account as we plan for a challenging fiscal year in 2002-2003 following limited infusions this year, accompanied by a well received "hold harmless" provision by the governor and legislature that has, so far, spared us from having to return appropriations through executive orders. The strategic plan has also been the primary source of our appropriation request for FY 2003 and the ability to sustain many of our initiatives will at least partially depend on our level of appropriations. Many of these themes are repeated in our appropriations strategy before the Board today, which identifies a needs budget increase of $13.9 M and further recognizes the State revenue downturn through a requested increase of only 5 percent. Central to the request and to building next year's budget will be financial discipline and cost containment initiatives to ensure a balanced budget while continuing to provide exceptional services to students.

We all appreciate the time, energy and wisdom displayed by so many individuals participating in the strategic planning process. Our challenge is now to convert ideas to action, creating a better future for all of us.