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Provost's Update

Sept. 2016

Provost’s Message

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are each now settled in to your new schedule and feeling the excitement of a new academic year.  For me, even in my 23rd year at EMU, the beginning of a new academic year brings with it an opportunity for a fresh start and updated perspectives - new lists, new goals, new resolutions.  This year at EMU brings a new President, James Smith. I urge everyone to take a moment to welcome him to EMU.  He brings a wealth of experience, energy, excitement and commitment to our campus and our community. I look forward to working with him on exciting things to come.

The Division of Academic and Student Affairs also has some new additions as we continue our leadership transitions in areas throughout the Division.  The most recent list of individuals in new roles is included later in this newsletter and we will make every effort to provide updates via campus emails and our newsletters about any future changes.  

We continue to review our organizational arrangements as we consider how to take full advantage of the opportunities created from working together across units formerly managed in separate divisions-- academic affairs, student affairs, information technology, student services, records and registration, community engagement and outreach programs.  In particular, the Extended Programs and Educational Outreach (EPEO) unit is being reconfigured and streamlined to reflect changes in how online courses and learning management resources are used in instructional areas. 

Areas devoted to new programs and enrollments have moved to the leadership of Kevin Kucera, Vice President for Enrollment Management.   Those units with an outward, community focus will move to the [email protected] unit. Within Academic and Student Affairs, [email protected] brings together our programs that support testing, non-credit, certification, service, and community building activities conducted in partnership with communities, schools, non-profits, businesses and other constituents. They will also channel community requests and contacts to relevant faculty and staff experts on campus, and serve as a welcoming "front door" to those who might want to partner with us or access our expertise and services.

My own goals for the new academic year include attention to a few key areas:

1.     Global Perspectives

We will undertake a search for a senior international officer (SIO) to lead the institution’s efforts in this area during the fall semester. I am pleased to say that until that search is complete, our campus efforts will be guided by Dr. Michael McVey, who has agreed to serve as interim SIO. He will further our efforts to strategically build on EMU’s already widespread interest and commitment from faculty, staff, and students. Also, he will foster discussion about how to expand the ways and places into which we bring global perspectives - teaching, research and creative activities, programming and more. We are fortunate to have Dr. McVey's leadership experience on board. We will also be seeking ways to support college-based efforts and other campus programs with global foci.

2.     Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Success

Student Affairs will be searching for important leadership in the Diversity and Community Involvement area (DCI). Programming fostered by the DCI Director is a centerpiece of building EMU's already strong attention to and support for an inclusive, welcoming and supportive campus culture for all members of our community. They, along with Dr. Michael Tew, Interim Director for Undergraduate Studies, and many others, will play key roles as we open a campus discussion of progress and needed updates to the Degree Completion and Retention Plan.

3.     Community Engagement and Our Public Mission

Historically, EMU's mission has been defined by an understanding of the critical role educational institutions can play in strengthening the communities they are a part of. We have an important role to play in enhancing this understanding among others and in demonstrating through what we do that we are dedicated partners in building stronger schools and effective community and government organizations. Our programming, advising, teaching, research, service, and creative endeavors enhance those we serve and reinforce our role as a public institution. 

Overall, in each of these areas and more, our goal will be to communicate more frequently and more effectively about the ways in which we offer a campus focused on quality, and inclusiveness, as well as accessibility.  We learn, lead, engage and excel in so many ways.  I'm hopeful we can share updates as often and as proudly as your efforts deserve.

Finally, none of these conversations can honestly take place without a larger discussion of the practicalities of the world in which we operate.  There is good news to share.  The state of Michigan has approved funding their portion of a project to fully renovate Strong Hall which will complete our Science complex. Renovations will begin later in this academic year.  The EMU Foundation experienced its most successful fundraising year to date- raising $11.6M.  

On the more challenging side, EMU continues to face a very constrained situation with our operating budget and our overall resource environment.  We continue to rely on tuition receipts more as a proportion of our budget, to receive relatively limited increases in state operational support and to face a very competitive enrollment situation. At the same time, costs escalate.   We have much needed maintenance and enhancements for our facilities. Conversations on budget will continue throughout the academic year; one such conversation occurred at a leadership meeting in June while some were away from campus, and here is a link to that presentation for your reference. I look forward to the analysis that others can and will provide as we move forward on these matters within the division’s input structures and in other venues as well. 

I believe strongly that our challenges can be overcome given the talent, energy and commitment of the EMU campus community.   Our mission has never been more relevant or necessary than it is now within our surrounding communities.  I hope you feel the excitement that I do about the year ahead and about all we can do with it.  Welcome Back and Best Wishes for a great Fall semester!


Rhonda Longworth, Ph.D.
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President,
Academic and Student Affairs