February 7, 2017

President's Report to the Board of Regents

Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Board of Regents:

It is my distinct pleasure to welcome everyone to today’s meeting. I would like to extend a warm greeting to our two newest members of the Board of Regents, Eunice Jeffries and Alexander Simpson. In the short time since their appointment by Governor Snyder, I have already shared positive interactions with both of them, and I know they will be great assets to this University in the years ahead. A welcome reception follows this meeting across the hall in room 205.

I extend my sincere thank you to departing Regents Beth Fitzsimmons and James Stapleton. They have been wonderful to work with and strong supporters of the University and our students, as you just heard in the resolutions that were presented.

I want to acknowledge and congratulate everyone involved in the University’s 31st celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was another outstanding week of programming, highlighted by the MLK Day luncheon and keynote speech on January 16. We had record attendance across the board.

Please join me in recognizing the planning committee co-chairs for their outstanding work: Dar Mayweather, doctoral fellow, Leadership and Counseling; Nicole Johnson, senior admissions advisor; and, Tiran Burrell, graduate assistant, BrotherHOOD.

In addition, I would like to recognize our student emcees who did a wonderful job leading the luncheon, Desmine Robinson and Connstance Chege. Last but not least, I would like to acknowledge our award recipients:

  • Professor Raul Leon – Humanitarian Award;
  • Former Washtenaw County administrator Verna McDaniel – Humanitarian Award;
  • Social work major Akintunde Oluwadare – Evans-Strand Award; and,
  • Psychology major Desmine Robinson – MLK Student Humanitarian Scholarship Award.

Related to these matters, I am pleased to report that the new President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion has already started its work and its meetings. This esteemed group of scholars, students and administrators will have a positive impact on the University going forward.

As evidence of that, yesterday, the Commission issued a public statement, The Path Forward, in which it commends our actions related to the dismissal of sanctions against students who participated in the overnight demonstration last November at the Student Center. The statement referenced the decision as both “warranted and wise.”  This reference is similar to the statement made last week by student leaders, namely Student Government President Tanasia Morton, EMU NAACP President Darius Anthony, and Black Student Union President Jaren Johnson.

Yesterday’s statement from the Commission on Diversity and Inclusion also lauded our message from last week and the “strong expression of support for the international members of the EMU community in the midst of the current national conversation on immigration” and called it “well placed and timely.”

Complete statements on these matters can be found on the University’s website and on EMU Today.

It is important we not forget the racist actions that led to much of the recent concerns. We remain steadfast in our determination to identify and apprehend those responsible for the racist vandalism that occurred this fall. I remain angered and also very much aware of the impact these incidents had on many of our students, faculty and staff. As I have stated previously, the vandals attacked our institution with messages of hate, likely because Eastern has embraced diversity and inclusiveness as cornerstone values. The $10,000 reward remains in place-- I encourage anyone with information to contact EMU Police.

In other developments, several positive initiatives should be noted:

  • A federal grant totaling more than $2.6 million will enable Eastern to support and train 300 Michigan teachers in the critically needed area of helping students learn English as a foreign language – a key step in facilitating the continuing globalization of the state and its economy.
  • Online programs in the College of Business and College of Education have been ranked among the nation’s best in the annual list of top online graduate school programs compiled by U.S. News and World Report.
  • GI Jobs magazine once again named Eastern as one of the top “military friendly” schools in the nation for 2017. Eastern ranked fifth in the United States among universities with more than 10,000 students, the first time EMU has achieved a top 10 rating.
  • A national education group awarded Eastern a top 10 ranking on its list of the 2017 LGBTQ-Friendly Online Schools.
  • Alumnus Zach Wigal, a 2016 graduate, was named to Forbes magazine “30 Under 30” class for 2017 in the “Games” category. Wigal is the Founder of Gamers Outreach Foundation, a non-profit that raises funds to help children cope with long-term medical treatment by providing gaming equipment to hospitals. Wigal started an annual video game tournament in 2008, which last year drew nearly 2,000 participants and raised more than $170,000. This year’s tournament is scheduled to take place in April at the Convocation Center.

In closing, I would like to acknowledge the outstanding performance by the Eastern Michigan University football team this year. With a 7-5 regular season record, the team was selected to play in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, the first bowl appearance for Eastern football since 1987. Coach Chris Creighton, some of his staff and student-athletes are with us today. I would like them to stand. Please join me in a round of applause for their successful season!

Other accomplishments are listed in the Appendix to this report on the University website.
Thank you, Chairman Morris. 

James M. Smith, Ph.D.
Eastern Michigan University


  • Wendy Dorman, a graduate student and teaching assistant for Dr. Katherine Ryker, was awarded the Outstanding Teachers Assistant Award from the National Association of Geoscience Teachers. Dorman was one of only nine people selected for the award during the year.
  • The EMU chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national accounting honors organization, has been recognized internationally as a superior chapter for the 17th year in a row. The chapter provides hundreds of hours of community service each semester, including filling out tax returns for low-income citizens in the Ypsilanti community. 
  • Construction Management students placed second among 27 universities in a national pre-construction competition that tested their knowledge of pre-construction services during an expansion and renovation project. The team consisted of Andrew Bigaman, Michael Eiswerth, Brandon Francis, Spencer Grassi, Ryan Jones and Nate Walsh.
  • Eastern Michigan University and the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum are establishing a formal partnership to develop authentic, relevant, and engaging science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activities geared toward elementary-aged children and their families. The project is funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services and The National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.  EMU chemistry professor Amy Flanagan Johnson is leading the effort, along with Sarah Fabian, associate professor of library services, and STEM Librarian Kelly Grossman.
  • EMU graduated its largest class of doctorate degrees in school history at the December 2016 commencement. 26 degrees were awarded in educational leadership, educational studies, technology and clinical psychology.
  • Eastern received its second consecutive grant as part of First Lady Sue Snyder’s sexual assault prevention on college campuses initiative. EMU received $51,186, the third largest award in the state, for its “EMU Men of Strength: Creating a Respectful Environment” project.


  • The Faculty Exhibition 2017 will feature the work of both the full-time and adjunct faculty members of Eastern’s School of Art and Design. The exhibit will run from January 16 – February 10 in the Student Center.
  • Students in the EMU EDGE Program presented their Photovoice project in January. Students used their smartphones into a collective community lens to capture the rich history of Ypsilanti and learned how to tell stories of what the pictures meant to them.
  • Six aviation students and four instructors flew south for the winter break, as part of the Venture Learning Program. The program introduces the students to various flight scenarios and challenges, such as instrument weather conditions, cross-country flight planning, mountainous terrain and flying at night.
  • Eastern’s annual Digital Divas event was held on November 4. The day-long conference introduces more than 300 middle-school girls to careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.  The girls have hands-on opportunities in various campus buildings to design, build and experiment under the tutelage of EMU students and faculty.

Of Note

  • EMU President Smith announced the inaugural members of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion. The members of the new 14-member Commission include: Ronald Wood, professor of Africology and African American Studies, who will chair the Commission and Devika Dibya Choudhuri, associate professor of Leadership and Counseling, who will serve as vice chair. Additional inaugural members include Sharon Abraham, Jessica “Decky” Alexander, Adam Baracka, Candace Dorsey, Melissa “Skeeter” Gentile, LaMarcus Howard, Christine “Kate” Mehuron, Amber Morseau, Greg Peoples, Eric Reed, Desmine Robinson, and Michael Tew.
  • Eastern has partnered with vendor Academic Partnerships (AP) to launch several current degree programs in online and accelerated formats. Eastern will develop and deliver the courses, and AP will promote the programs and recruit students.  The RN2BSN program will continue, and three other programs will be added – master’s in educational leadership, master’s in curriculum and instruction, and bachelor’s of general studies.
  • EMU has named its Military and Veterans Service Center after Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, an alumnus who this past summer received the military’s highest distinction, The Medal of Honor. It is now called the Col. Charles S. Kettles Military Veteran Services Resource Center.
  • On Giving Tuesday, after the Thanksgiving weekend, donors gave a record total of $269,708 to support Eastern’s students and programs.


  • Cross Country (Men): Nick Raymond competed the NCAA Championships and earned All-American honors, the 15th Eagle in program history to earn the honor, and the first since 2006.
  • Cross Country (Men): John Knox and Nick Raymond were named as MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.
  • Cross Country (Men): Colin Burdette, John Knox, Mitch Lenneman, Nick Raymond, David Saporito, and Austin Sargent were named to the Academic All-MAC Team.
  • Cross Country (Women): The women’s cross country team finished ninth at the NCAA Championships. The only other season Eastern qualified for the championships was in 1996.  The team also had their first All-American honoree since 1987, Jordann McDermitt, who was just the second Eagle to accomplish this feat in program history.
  • Cross Country (Women): Anna Aldrich, Alsu Bogdanova, Natalie Cizmas, Sofie Gallein, Jordann McDermitt, and Sydney Meyers were named as MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.
  • Cross Country (Women): Anna Aldrich, Danielle Bentzley, Alsu Bogdanova, Rebekah Branham, Natalie Cizmas, Sofie Gallein, Jordann McDermitt, Claire Mesa, Sydney Meyers, Lauren Pottschmidt, Leah Wallace, and Jenna Wyns were named to the Academic All-MAC Team.
  • Football (Men): The Eagles played in the Popeyes Bahama Bowl, its second Division I bowl appearance in program history.  Eastern’s last appearance was in the California Bowl in 1987.
  • Football (Men): Pat O’Connor was named to the All-MAC Conference First Team, and Austin Barnes, Paul Fricano, Cole Gardner were named Second Team.  Third Team honors were garnered by Sergio Bailey II, Jeremiah Harris, DaQuan Pace, and Andrew Wylie.
  • Football (Men): Paul Fricano, Cole Gardner, Jeremiah Harris, Clay Holford, Jake Hurcombe, Brenden Renius, and Ike Spearman were named MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.
  • Football (Men): Blake Banham, Jason Beck, Dan Buschman, Ian Eriksen, Paul Fricano, Cole Gardner, Juan Giraldo, Jeremiah Harris, Clay Holford, Brody Hoying, Jake Hurcombe, Bryce Kemp, Luke Maclean, DaQuan Pace, Rob Pavletich, Brenden Renius, Ike Spearman, and Breck Turner were named to the MAC Football Academic All-MAC Team.  The 18 Eagles on the list are the most in the MAC and the most in program history.
  • Football (Men): Cole Gardner was invited to play in the Tropical Bowl, Pat O’Connor was invited to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game, and DaQuan Pace will participate in the College Gridiron Showcase & Symposium.
  • Football (Men): Pat O’Connor was named First Team Phil Steele Postseason All-MAC Team, and Austin Barnes, Paul Fricano, and Cole Gardner were named Second Team.  Jeremiah Harris, DaQuan Pace, and Andrew Wylie were named Third Team.  Justin Moody was named a Second Team All-American on special teams by Pro Football Focus.
  • Football (Men): The EMU Eagles finished in a seven-way tie for the most improved program in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2016.
  • Soccer (Women): Ellie Tillar was named First Team All-MAC, Kaylin Williams was named Second Team All-MAC, and Sabrina McNeill was named to the MAC All-Freshman Team.
  • Rowing (Women): Baylee Kincaid was invited to participate in the US Under 23 Identification Camp with U.S. National Rowing Team coaches and other top rowers in the country.  She is the first rower in program history to receive an invitation.
  • Soccer (Women): Gabriella Mancini, Ellie Tillar, and Kaylin Williams were named MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.
  • Soccer (Women): Stef Barcelos, Jennifer Bentley, Mia Colavito, Peyton Davis, Madison Hirsch, Gabriella Mancini, Michelle Rollins, Ellie Tillar, Chanel Vani, Alex Wilbanks, and Kaylin Williams were named to the Academic All-MAC Team.
  • Soccer (Women): Ellie Tillar was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s MAC Top 20 team.
  • Softball (Women): Alyssa Feiler of Brighton, Mich. signed a ceremonial letter of commitment through a partnership with Team IMPACT.  Feiler, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, will attend practices, games and events as a member of the team.  Since its inception, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,100 children and young adults with more than 450 colleges and universities across the country.
  • Swimming & Diving (Men and Women): Both teams were named to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America NCAA Division I Scholar All-American Teams for the fall semester.  The women’s team had the second-highest GPA in the MAC with 3.55, and then men ranked third in the MAC with 3.22.  Eastern was one of just 77 NCAA Division I institutions to have both teams earn the award.
  • Volleyball (Women): Devon Murray and Jordan Smith were named MAC Distinguished Scholar Athletes.
  • Volleyball (Women): Alyssa LaFace, Devon Murray, Mallory Rajewski, and Jordan Smith were named to the Academic All-MAC Team.
  • The EMU Department of Athletics posted a program record in the classroom recording an 81 percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR). Among the MAC schools, EMU was first in six sports – gymnastics, softball, swimming and diving (women), tennis, volleyball, and wrestling.
  • 45 student-athletes received their official letterman’s jackets from the E-Club Alumni Chapter, a group of former EMU varsity athletic letter-winners, on January 17.
  • More than 60 student-athletes made 600 personal thank-you phone calls to donors and supporters of Eastern athletics during the third annual Thank-a-Thon on January 7.
  • Head Football Coach Chris Creighton was voted as one of three finalists for the American Football Coaches Awards’ Comeback Coach of the Year.
  • More than 85 full-time coaches, staff and administrators participated in the third consecutive “All In” internal staff donor campaign and reached 100-percent giving participation to EMU programs during the fall.

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