President's Report to the Board of Regents

June 21, 2011

Today, we celebrate our past and embrace our future.  We are the first teacher training college west of the Alleghenies and the sixth in the nation to be established in 1849. My one-room school teacher graduated from Michigan State Normal. The Governor and Chairman Wilbanks announced yesterday the Education Achievement Authority that invites Eastern to take its expertise to help schools that are underperforming. This recognizes faculty expertise and our national reputation as one of the top producers of excellent teachers for 161 years. Eastern faculty members are leaders that can choose to help every Michigan child learn and achieve degrees.

Eastern is pleased to announce the largest gift in the history of Eastern Michigan University. Dee and Bill Brehm (Dee is Eastern alumna 1952/special education) have made a gift of $3.2 million to the College of Education to establish the Delores Soderquist Brehm Center for Special Education Scholarship and Research, and to fully endow programs that they have been supporting for several years on an annual basis. The Brehm Scholars and faculty work together on research and develop teachers who understand how to think intellectually about better educating children, and publish those results to share with others. This gift ensures that work continues and also adds to the more than $1 million in support given previously to make a $4.365 million total gift -- the largest in Eastern’s history. The Invest. Inspire. campaign is now more than $46 million toward its $50 million goal.

I am recommending that the Board of Regents approve a fiscal year 2012 budget that includes a 3.65 percent increase in tuition and fees -- $10.20 per credit. That follows $0 or 0 percent last year, and $10.20 the year before -- $20.40 in three years a total commitment to affordability and access.  Parking fees will increase but free parking and a free shuttle will be available at Rynearson Stadium.  Eastern is committed to its historic 161-year-old role in providing an excellent affordable education with access to faculty who care and are leaders in their field. This budget recommendation also:

  • Invests in faculty – 29 new tenure-track faculty and 11 full-time lecturers are budgeted.
  • Invests in financial aid – 10.8 percent - $3.3 million year-to-year increase in University-sponsored financial aid. In 4 years, a $12.3 million/57 percent increase to support students.
  • Invests in facilities – over $200 million dollars – more than 75 percent targeted toward academic facilities. The University’s $200 million five-year capital plan includes last January’s opening of the 80,000 sq. ft. addition to the Science Complex and renovation of Mark Jefferson. Faculty and students will move back into the newly renovated Pray-Harrold this Fall – Eastern’s largest classroom building; $1.9 million is committed to the renovation of the Rackham building to expand health programs. Hill and Pitman tower dorms have been renovated and Hoyt is next. The Freshman Living Center residence halls have new windows and keyless locks – safe, secure home on campus.  Fourteen new print release stations that are ADA accessible will be added.
  • Invests in academic programs – laboratory and studio fees are being recommended to ensure a vibrant state of the art classroom experience – 100 percent of these fees will go back to the academic departments to fund consumable supplies in the classroom and enable departments to save up for expensive instructional equipment across years.  
  • Invests in growth in academic programs – $1 million preserved to invest in new academic programs such as physician assistant or existing programs that are growing and need more resources to help them expand. We are investing in the future.

Eastern is growing. We have achieved a 7 percent enrollment increase over the past two years. We plan to retain that growth and continue to add new students.

We serve this great State of Michigan and the many Michigan citizens who have some college but no degrees. It is estimated that there are over 300,000 people ages 25-34 in southeast Michigan (eight counties including Washtenaw) in that category. Many families think they can only afford community college. Students of any age can come to a great, important, historic university and join the family of Eastern. We are 161-years old, historic and proud, and retain an affordable, accessible excellent education in a welcoming, beautiful campus where you or your child can earn a degree.

The new budget includes approximately $15 million in spending reductions. Aggressive cost containment actions include the elimination of administration throughout the university, a pay freeze for non-union personnel, greater employee contributions to health care coverage, the reduction of travel and other expenses, cell phone allowances, and energy efficiency.

The budget process was rigorous and comprehensive, and involved all areas of the university. I thank the university community, the University Budget Council, the Faculty Senate, our union leadership, the all-union council, and all others who called or emailed me for the ideas, suggestions and support during this challenging time. This was challenging work for our team as we will lay off more than 40 employees while eliminating more than 70 positions. This is a painful moment for Eastern.

I thank the Board of Regents who created an ad hoc committee who met to hear the leadership teams recommendations over many hours – it was a learning experience for them and for us. 

We pushed WEMU to raise more money over the upcoming years to be more self-sustaining.  We learned the Children’s Institute trains many students and sustains most of their budget through grants and fees. There is much more work to do in managing our costs and future.

I thank the Board for awarding me a $7,500 bonus and pay increase of 3 percent effective July 1 in my recent contract extension, but I will not accept it. I announced the non-bargained for employees would not receive a pay increase this next fiscal year and asked all bargaining units to do the same to reduce cuts by $3.2 million. Only one union accepted this difficult request so far. I want to recognize Sgt. Todd Lancaster, president of the Police Officers Labor Council, who could not be here today. The other members are Sergeants Diana Good, David Shefferly and Mathias Buckland. Sergeants Good and Shefferly are here today. The union agreed to delay their pay increase for 6 months -- taking a 0 percent pay increase from July 1 through December 31, 2011 and again extending and accepting a 0 percent increase for the next fiscal year. 

I would like to acknowledge Provost and Executive Vice President Jack Kay, who will step down from his position at the end of June to return to the classroom. Dr. Kay has been a valuable member of the leadership team and a strong intellectual voice in his area of expertise on hate crimes and communication holding several forums on campus that were dynamic.  A special appreciation reception in his honor will be held on Thursday, June 30 from 3-5 p.m. in room 300 of the Student Center for the entire University community.

The Provost search is underway and many applicants are responding to recent advertisements. I am delighted to announce the appointment of Jim Carroll as Interim Associate Provost to help through this transition. Dr. Carroll is the current Department Head in the Physics and Astronomy Department, and a professor of physics, and will serve July 1, 2011 through August 31, 2012.

Jann Joseph, a top administrator and expert in science teacher education with extensive experience in supporting teacher education and faculty and curriculum development, has been appointed dean of our College of Education. Dr. Joseph begins July 1, 2011.

Our new Men’s Basketball Coach is Rob Murphy. Rob has a great background and is a perfect fit for Eastern. He is from Detroit where he was successful in the high school ranks as coach, before moving on to assistant coach at powerhouse Syracuse University.

Chris Hoppe has joined us as Associate Athletic Director for Compliance. Chris comes to Eastern from Robert Morris University where he was Compliance Director.

Other special recognition includes:

  • Senior Tyler “Omar” Orme won the national championship in Impromptu Speaking at the American Forensic Association tournament.
  • Women’s golfer Sarah Johnson won the 2011 MAC championship – first ever for an Eastern women’s golfer. This is among several honors for women’s golf.
  • The 40th consecutive top ten finish for Eastern’s forensics team at this year’s National Forensic Association tournament. Eastern is the only team in the nation to finish in the top ten every year since the tournament was started in 1971.
  • Senior Kevin Douglas, a student in the College of Business, is one of 10 students from around the country recently awarded a nationally recognized scholarship in supply chain management – the R. Gene Richter Scholarship.
  • A team of Eastern students won the Information Security “Cyber Defense” Talent Search at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. The students are Greg Gallaway (Eaton Rapids), Bryan Robinson (Ypsilanti), Chris Schmitt (Ypsilanti), Karl Schuttler (DeWitt) and Zach Zeid (Ypsilanti).
  • Eastern’s inaugural class of 13 future teachers was introduced as part of the highly competitive W.K. Kellogg-Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship. They started this Spring semester 2011 as a cohort and will complete their Master’s degree studies and enter the Detroit Public Schools as “master teachers” in science and math Fall 2012. 
  • Linda Lewis-White, a professor in teacher education, was selected as an outstanding advising award winner by the National Academic Advising Association.
  • Nursing graduate Brenda Washington recently won first-place for her research, “African American Men and Prostate Cancer: The Relationship of Knowledge, Fear and Intention to Screen,” awarded by the Midwest Nursing Research Society.
  • Livonia native Ryan Bogan won a $15,000 award for his art involving trash. It is one of the nation’s largest and most competitive art awards.
  • The women’s track and field team won the 2011 MAC Indoor Track and Field Championship.
  • 2010 graduate and former track team member R. P. White won the Cleveland Marathon ahead of more than 13,000 other finishers.
  • In late May we hosted the Girls on the Run 5k run through campus, with a turnout of an estimated 3,000 girls and their families. Debbie Dingell and I welcomed the crowd and fired the starting horns. The event celebrates a special character and self-esteem building program for young girls.

Chairman Wilbanks, this concludes my report. 

Thank you. 

Susan Martin