President's Report to the Board of Regents

April 20, 2010

Today, I am recommending that the Board of Regents approve a 2010-2011 budget that includes "Zero tuition increase, zero room increase and zero board increase." In short this means there will be no change in current tuition, room and board fees for the Fall 2010 semester. For an undergraduate student taking 30 credits, the annual cost for tuition and mandatory fees next year will remain at $8377.

This recommendation is a risk to our bottom line and credit rating at a time of declining state support, but a risk we must take to serve the public at this important time in the State’s future. More importantly our families need to live and thrive in Michigan and higher education and college degrees are the path to prosperity.

Economic conditions faced by Michigan students and their families are challenging; the worst I’ve seen in my lifetime in Michigan. This is the right recommendation, at the right time for EMU, for Michigan taxpayers and citizens. Our low tuition, room and board rates are the result of increased enrollment as well as our management focus on cost savings and efficiency. We increased vigilance in all areas of spending while maintaining reinvestment in new faculty, authorizing 43 searches for the Fall of 2010 and state of the art academic facilities. We borrowed $100 million to reinvest in a new science complex and renovation of our largest classroom building Pray-Harrold. We’ve decreased energy costs in our march toward sustainability.

Total 2010-2011 tuition and fee revenue is budgeted at $198.6 million, a $5.9 million increase compared with the forecast for 2009-2010 reflecting budgeted student credit hour growth of 3.4 percent. This budget maintains our strong support of student financial aid, a key piece of our strategy to help Michigan students and families. We will increase our commitment to financial aid by $1.4 million to a total of $30.4 million. Over the last three years we have increased financial aid by 9 million — a 42 percent increase.

So here is an update on other activities since the last Board meeting:

  • Yesterday, we launched our $50 million capital campaign: "Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University."
  • Work continues on schedule at the $90 million Science Complex. A recent hard-hat walkthrough was inspiring as some of the key features begin to take shape. The new planetarium will be a great feature for students and the community.
  • We also are entering the massive "Swing Space" move necessitated by the renovation of Pray-Harrold. This is a challenging process for our faculty, staff and students, as faculty and staff move to new offices, and as classes are relocated to different buildings across campus. We appreciate the patience of everyone involved as we finalize class schedules and locations. We are certain that when all work is completed it will be well worth the inconvenience of moving and sharing classroom space.
  • We continue to take great pride in the "greening" of Eastern Michigan University. Our progress to improve energy efficiency is reflected by the $4 million decrease in energy expenses over the past four years, from $13 million to $9 million. Last year we planted 100 trees. In January alone, we recycled 17 tons of material, compared to 7.5 tons the previous January – an increase of 225 percent. In recognition of our efforts, our energy and environmental partner, Chevron, has announced that it is has selected Eastern over other Michigan institutions for a major statewide recognition event later this year.
  • Our Salute to Excellence Week was bigger and better than ever. Our 30th annual Undergraduate Symposium featured presentations by 310 students. It is the oldest event of its kind in the nation and has been replicated by many institutions. The 33rd Annual Celebration of Faculty Excellence Awards were another highlight, honoring different areas of faculty achievement, including the Distinguished Faculty Awards, considered the highest award that any faculty member can earn from the University. This year’s winners are: Andrew Ross, mathematics; Robert Winning, biology; Aaron Liepman, biology; and, Deborah Heyl-Clegg, chemistry. Other events included the 12th Annual Graduate Research Fair, the Employee Service Recognition Program, the Student Celebration, the 29th Annual Staff Gold Medallion Awards, the College of Education’s Celebration of Excellence and the Holman Success Center’s Celebration of Student Support.
  • We continued to bring a diverse set of events to campus, including celebration of Women’s History Month, our "Perspectives in the Middle East" Lecture Series, a conversation with Eric Alva sponsored by the John and Genevieve Dyer Foundation, a Hollywood screenwriter, he final installment of this year’s Porter Chair Lecture Series.
  • Our mock trial team advanced to The American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament last weekend after topping competitors such as Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan State in earlier rounds.
  • In Athletics, our men's and women's basketball teams wrapped up winning seasons, with our women's team winning 22 games and earning a post-season WNIT invitation at Purdue. Men’s swimming and diving team captured its fourth consecutive MAC Championship. Men’s track and field won the MAC Indoor Track and Field Championships for the 13th time in 15 years. Men’s distance medley relay team earned All-Americans honors and took home a fifth-place finish at the NCAA National Championships. Our football team held its annual spring Green-White game on Sunday. The academic performance of our student-athletes remains strong as all of our athletic teams presented an overall GPA of 3.05. Last weekend our men’s golf team won the Robert Kepler tournament, defeating four Big 10 teams and six additional teams.
  • The Higher Learning Commission recently sent a team to visit our campus and the report was positive. The AACSB recently conducted a site visit and extended our reaccreditation efforts for a year.

I also want to recognize a special person who is shifting roles at Eastern Michigan. Vice President of Advancement Don Loppnow will be leaving the administrative ranks and will be taking a well-earned sabbatical before returning to the classroom. Another transition involves the retirement of long-time Director of Benefits, Jeanette Hassan. Jeanette has been with us for 24 years. We wish her well in her future endeavors. And we welcome Shareen Boone to EMU as she takes on Jeanette’s responsibilities.

The past two months have not been without some sadness and tragedy for the Eastern family. Our deepest condolences are extended to the family and friends of College of Education Dean Vernon Polite, who died March 8 of complications from pancreatic cancer. This highly respected man was a leader on campus as well as a leading figure in the world of education. Hundreds of people have paid tribute to him through our online memorial site, and even more will be able to do so at a special campus memorial on Thursday.

We also experienced the tragic death of a student in a house fire, Renden Lemasters, as well as two students who took their own lives. We encourage anyone who is feeling deeply troubled or knows someone who may feel that way to seek help through our counseling services. This has been a painful time on our campus with these losses.

In closing, we invite all of you to join our commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Sunday, April 25. We will honor three alumni: former Regent Timothy Dyer (class of 1961 & 1965), former track star Daniel McClory (Class of 1981 & 1982), and 100-year "young" Eastern legend Kenneth "Red" Simmons (Class of 1933). Daniel McClory will speak in the morning and Timothy Dyer will speak during the afternoon ceremony.

Chairman Wilbanks, this concludes my report.