President's Report to the Board of Regents

October 18, 2011

Supporting Michigan students and their families in these challenging times continues to be a priority for Eastern Michigan University. I am pleased to present, for Board of Regents approval, a request for a 6.9 percent increase in the financial aid budget for 2012-2013. This will increase our financial support of students from the $33.7 million currently, to just over $36 million. This continues the trend we began four years ago as the state's economic climate became increasingly challenging for students and their families. Over five years, we will have increased our financial aid budget by 68 percent (including the 6.9 percent proposed for FY13). We continue to evaluate our enrollment strategies for FTIACs, transfers, international and graduate students as we begin university-wide strategic planning for the future to ensure Eastern serves the citizens of Michigan who need a college degree for their future career in our state. The increase in our financial aid commitment to students represents the latest evidence of our determined effort to support Michigan students and their families. We also have worked hard to keep costs down. Over the past three years, Eastern's overall increase in tuition averaged just 2.5 percent -- $20 more per credit hour than three years ago -- the lowest increase of any university in Michigan. During the same three-year period, state funding support to Eastern has declined by $14 million, from $78.6 million three years ago to $64.6 million this year, representing a 18-percent decrease in funding.

Our efforts to be responsive to the needs of the people of our state are recognized by government leaders in Lansing. We are hopeful it will result in support of our 2012-2013 Capital Outlay Request, which we are recommending for Board of Regents approval this afternoon. The estimated cost to renovate Strong Hall is $40 million. If the Capital Outlay Request is approved, Eastern would be responsible for 25 percent or $10 million.

Strong Hall was constructed in 1957 and has not received any significant improvements or renovations since then. Combined with the self-funded $90 million addition and renovation of the Science Complex, the renovation of Strong Hall would result in first-class science facilities on Eastern's campus.

We are pleased to introduce some of our students who will have the opportunity to learn in these fine new facilities. Seventeen freshman students joined Eastern this fall under our Presidential Scholars program, which provides a full four-year scholarship for these gifted students. They will be introduced shortly and we welcome them to this meeting and to the University.

We are pleased to host three finalists this week for the Provost position. The three finalists were selected from a group of more than 50 applicants by the search committee chaired by Dean Tom Venner of the College of Arts & Sciences. Open forums and meetings with faculty, students and other campus groups are taking place. Efforts to expand our global partnerships continue to achieve results. Last week, we hosted a four-person delegation from Zhejiang University of Media and Communications in China. Two new agreements were signed providing exchange opportunities for students and faculty between the two institutions. Zhejiang University was founded 33 years ago and is one of the premier Chinese universities for broadcast journalism and media arts.

We are pleased to announce that Eastern's College of Business has earned its eighth consecutive ranking on the Princeton's Review's annual list of the Best Business Schools. The ranking is based on a survey of students. In the report, Eastern's College of Business was highlighted for "offering an affordable, flexible, and very student-oriented MBA program."

Our continuing efforts to support our local community are reflected in several recent events:

  • This morning, we celebrated the dedication of our Autism Collaborative Center and Children's Institute in the Fletcher Building. These acclaimed and growing programs are widely recognized for their work supporting children and families in the region, and also provide opportunities for Eastern students pursuing careers in early childhood education and special education.
  • We hosted the 2nd annual "College Begins at Head Start" program on campus. More than 300 pre-school children visited campus with their parents to encourage high school completion and college attendance.
  • Last week, we were joined by Regent Michael Hawks in dedication ceremonies of our new Eagle Flight Centre aviation training facility at the Capitol Region International Airport in Lansing. The Lansing program is modeled after Eastern's highly regarded program that has been operating out of Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti for five years.

Women's basketball student athlete and senior guard Tavelyn James has been chosen to play for the United States women's team at the Pan-American Games, which begin this Friday in Mexico. James is joining the 12-member team made up of the best women collegiate players in the country. She is the first Eastern player to compete in the event, and also the first student-athlete from a Mid-American Conference institution to be selected for the team's roster.

The football team is off to its best start since 1995 with a 4-3 overall record and 2-1 Mid-American Conference (MAC) record. We had a big victory last weekend in Mt. Pleasant over Central Michigan. Our Homecoming game will be held this Saturday, October 22nd. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. versus Western Michigan.

Homecoming festivities kicked off last night. Tonight includes a lecture and book signing by rapper, actor and activist Common. Thursday features "Green & White Day;" a Block Party on the Student Center patio supported by local businesses and Mojo of radio station 99.5; and the Pep Rally at 8 p.m. at University Park, complete with the marching band, cheer squad and other special guests. Friday is residence hall decorating and Salsa Night, and on Saturday pre-game festivities for alumni and others begin at 11 a.m. at the Stadium.

I am pleased to announce that former Eastern standout basketball player George Gervin, who later went on to a hall of fame career in the NBA, will be returning to Eastern to be our winter commencement speaker on December 18. Named one of the NBA's 50 Greatest Players, Gervin now leads the George Gervin Youth Center, which provides vocational training, remedial education, mentoring, tutoring, job placement and supportive services for more than 1,400 of San Antonio's at-risk and disadvantaged youth and their families.

This concludes my formal remarks. The full President's Report, with additional information, is available on the University's website.

Thank you, Chairman Wilbanks.

Susan Martin

Additional highlights:

Approximately 100 students from the Honors College were inducted into the National Society of College Scholars.

Dr. Linda Lewis-White has been named recipient of the 2011 National Academic Advising Association outstanding advisor for academic advising award. Dr. White is testament to the high quality of academic advising in the College of Education.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has appointed Diane Parfitt, an associate professor at Eastern Michigan University, to the Michigan Board of Counseling. The board licenses and oversees the practice of counseling in Michigan.

The Eastern Michigan University chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national accounting honors organization, has been recognized internationally as a superior chapter for the past academic year. In a letter announcing the honor, Beta Alpha Psi president Mary Stone cited the leadership of accounting professor Howard Bunsis, faculty advisor of the EMU chapter.

Dr. David Thomas, Professor and Program Director in Therapeutic Recreation, visited the Ukraine and obtained an agreement of cooperation between Eastern and several organizations, including the National Medical Academy, Kiev and the Institute of Gerontology, also in Kiev. Faculty and student exchanges are among potential collaborative projects.

Eastern received $98,439 from the Department of Defense Information Assurance and Security Program for the project, "The Dreams to Reality (D2R)," directed by Gerald Lawver, Associate Professor, School of Technology Studies. This program will deliver online and onsite dual enrollment courses during the academic year, and an intensive summer experience in information assurance to high school students in Cesar Chavez High School and Martin Luther High School.

EMU finalized a contract with the Washtenaw County Juvenile Court for $139,917 with Project Director Dr. Jennifer Kellman-Fritz, Associate Professor of Social Work. This project involves a collaborative diversion initiative where Social Work faculty will supervise EMU students in a structured field placement where EMU students will serve as trained mentors to juvenile offenders.

Dennis Patrick, Director of the Center for the Study and Advancement of Equality & Human Rights received an $8,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan's Hope fund to support theatrical performances about LGBTQ youth as a learning tool for teachers and staff.

Russ Olwell, Director of ISCFC has received renewal funding in the amount of $572,263 for year-six of the EMU GEAR-UP program, "Partnership to Promote College Readiness and Success." This program partners with Ypsilanti, Willow Run and Wayne-Westland Schools to increase academic performance and college readiness for a cohort of high school students. The College of Arts and Sciences Speaker Series, Vision and Voices, began the 2011-12 season earlier this month with Ellen Kaplan presenting "Making Theatre in Zones of Conflict: In Prisons, Sarajevo, and the Middle East." The presentation examined the power of theatre in times of crisis.

Eastern is strongly linked to one of the most popular shows on television, NBC's "The Biggest Loser." Part-time lecturer Melissa Gerharter and two students in the School of Health Sciences are working with one of the contestants this season.

The Eastern Echo won multiple awards in this year's Michigan Collegiate Press Association's College Newspaper Contest in Division I, including first place for Investigative Reporting, first place for Opinions Column, and first place in the Original Cartoon category. Division I universities include Michigan State, the University of Michigan, Grand Valley State and Central Michigan.

Echo photographer Noah Pylvainen, an urban studies major from West Bloomfield, was selected as a finalist in the Pacemaker competition, considered the "Pulitzer Prize of college journalism," in the "News Photo of the Year" category. Winners will be announced later this year. The Echo has won five Pacemakers over the past 10 years.

"Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University" has now raised more than $48.6 million, nearing our goal of $50 million. We are beginning planning for a celebration event next spring as we surpass our target, ahead of schedule.

The Turner Construction Company, which is one of the largest construction companies in the world, highlighted Eastern's Indoor Athletic Practice Facility among the construction projects featured in its annual Turner City display. Turner City is a highly regarded industry listing of prominent construction projects around the world.

In Athletics:

For the eighth year in a row, the Eastern Michigan University softball team has been ranked among the top-20 in all Division I schools in team GPA, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced in its 2011 Top Ten All-Academic Teams.

The Eagles are tied for 10th in the nation with Stetson University after compiling a team grade point average of 3.477 last year. Additionally, 10 members of the 2011 Eastern Michigan University softball squad were named Division I All-America Scholar Athletes. EMU's 10 recipients marks the most in program history, surpassing the nine individuals who were honored last season. The award is given to any player submitted by a member coach who achieved a 3.50 grade point average or higher during the 2010-11 academic year.

Our Volleyball team is currently 17-6 overall having won their last three consecutive MAC matches. The team hosts both Buffalo (Friday, October 21st) and Akron (Saturday, October 22nd) this weekend at the Convocation Center. Both games begin at 7 p.m.