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July 19, 2005: Ypsilanti's Dr. Craig Willis Day

Dr. Craig Willis Dr. Craig Dean Willis served EMU as president from August 2004 to July 2005. The University community is grateful to Dr. Willis for his outstanding service and leadership, and for setting the stage for the coming years at EMU.

The City of Ypsilanti also benefitted from Dr. Willis' outreach and person-centered leadership. The City's mayor and council declared Tuesday, July 19, 2005 to be "Dr. Craig Willis Day."

In honor of Dr. Craig Willis Day, the following proclamation was presented at the City Council meeting.

Whereas Dr. Craig Willis was selected by the Board of Regents to become Interim President of Eastern Michigan University in August 2004. He and his wife Dr. Marilyn Willis came to us by way of Wright State University and Lockhaven University, arriving on our campus August 16th, 2004 with just their suitcases, and

Whereas President Willis found himself in an atmosphere of turmoil that had been created by circumstances surrounding the building of University House and other failures of trust and communication. He immediately began to meet with students, faculty and community leaders in order to bridge these gaps. President Willis had the chain link construction fence removed from around University House, symbolizing his embrace of the neighborhood and of the City. He made University House available to various groups for events so that everyone would begin to feel the pride of ownership of this beautiful public facility, and

Whereas during the ensuing year President Willis continued to be visible and accessible, putting students first. He was frequently seen walking the Campus, talking with students, and earned their respect and admiration to the point that they expressed their hopes during the Presidential search process that the next permanent President of EMU would be “Willis-like,” and

Whereas President Willis stepped into tense union contract negotiations with faculty, and helped to avert a strike. Terms were agreed upon the day that fall classes were to begin in 2004. President Willis continued to meet with faculty, to discuss ongoing issues, and to keep his promises to fill open positions, and

Whereas President Willis continued to support important town/gown initiatives that had been begun by his predecessor, including joint committees working on issues such as students in the community, safety, and signage. He encouraged continuation of the COPC grant, which produced an alliance between Youth and Seniors that has been rewarding for all and instrumental in keeping the doors open at the Ypsilanti Senior Center, and

Whereas on President Willis’s watch, there were big successes such as the championship season for the Women’s Basketball team, and big disappointments such as the failure of Lansing legislators to recognize and address the dire need for funding for capital improvements to classroom facilities such as the Pray-Harrold building. He has also enjoyed singing in the male vocal group Measure for Measure while in Ypsilanti, and

Whereas John Fallon has just been chosen to be the 21st President of Eastern Michigan University, and will begin his tenure this week.

Now, therefore, I, Cheryl C. Farmer, the Mayor of the City of Ypsilanti, on behalf of the City Council do hereby declare Tuesday July 19, 2005 as “Dr. Craig Willis Day” in the City of Ypsilanti, and salute him as he departs for bringing his wisdom, honesty and determination to our campus at a time when we really needed it. We thank him for his friendship, and wish him and his wife Marilyn the very best as they return to their retirement home overlooking the Susquehanna River.

Photo Gallery: President Craig Willis at EMU

August 2004 - July 2005

Craig Willis with Ypsilanti Mayor Cheryl Farmer

Dr. Willis poses with Ypsilanti Mayor Cheryl Farmer after receiving the "Dr. Craig Willis Day" proclamation; July 19, 2005.

Willises receive a gift

President Willis (left) leads an international procession from Pease Auditorium to the McKenny Union Ballroom, which hosted a program in honor of the December tsunami victims; January 14, 2005.

Craig and Marilyn Willis

President Willis exhorts the crowd to sit down following a standing ovation at EMU's farewell party for him and his wife, Marilyn (right); June 21.

Dr. Willis with Dr. Fallon

Passing the Torch: President Willis (left) passes the responsibilities of EMU leadership to Dr. John Fallon after Fallon's appointment as EMU president; March 2005.

Monday, July 18, Dr. Fallon said, "I am grateful for the good work that Craig and Marilyn Willis have done here. In addition to moving the institution forward on every front, they have left an indelible focus on the human elements of the community as the key to its future success... The Willises have provided the University with a new beginning with directions that require and deserve our continued commitment."


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