President's Report to the Board of Regents
December 8, 2015
Mr. Chairman and Distinguished Members of the Board of Regents:
One of the most important and exciting days of the academic year is nearly upon us. On December 19th we will celebrate another large class of graduates at our winter Commencement ceremony. Nearly 1,700 students are eligible to graduate -- more than 450 with masters and doctoral degrees. Nancy Schlichting, chief executive officer of the Henry Ford Health System, will be the commencement speaker and will be presented with an honorary doctor of business administration degree.
Eastern’s ongoing commitment to the success of our local communities is a key priority of the University’s Strategic Plan. Recently the Kresge Foundation awarded Eastern a $361,000 grant to expand the Ypsilanti Family Empowerment program, aimed at improving connections for educational, economic, and health resources for families living in low-income housing projects within Ypsilanti, such as Hamilton Crossing. Dr. Russ Olwell, director of Eastern’s Institute for Children, Families, and Communities has provided tremendous leadership for this project as well as many other important initiatives his institute is leading. We cannot thank you enough for your leadership on this important work, Dr. Olwell. The awarding of the Kresge grant is further evidence to support the Carnegie Foundation’s designation of our university as an engaged campus, one of only 240 colleges and universities in the U.S. to earn that prestigious distinction.
In response to the widening discussion across the nation’s campuses about institutional racism, a forum took place in McKenny Hall on November 19. During the forum students, faculty, staff and administrators participated and added substantial context to this most important topic. Additionally the administration including myself have had several meetings and discussions with students about The Black Student 10-Point Plan. As interim president and provost, I fully support and agree with the overall goals of the plan and support necessary revisions to university’s processes and policies that will lead to the kind of change our students are seeking.
This past fall an important initiative was launched to improve our student records system so that Eastern students will be able to select a preferred name and pronoun for reference on many university communications and processes. When completed this summer, students will have the opportunity to self-identify, consistent with our history and commitment to being a diverse and welcoming campus. This is but a first step the university is taking in support of our trans and genderqueer students who might prefer to use names different than their birth and legal names. I would like to acknowledge Mary Larkin, program coordinator for Eastern’s LGBT Resource Center, Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Officer Carl Powell, and Leigh Greden, Assistant to the President, for their leadership on this initiative as well as the wide support we have received from offices across campus. As Mary Larkin would probably say right now, “it is about time people.”
On Nov. 14, we hosted an urban education summit that brought together EMU faculty, area community leaders, students and educators. The “EMU Education Summit: Building Strong Urban Schools” provided a meaningful opportunity for communities, school districts and teachers to learn from each other about what’s working and what more can be done to help Michigan's urban schools. The summit has been strongly supported by the regents and Regents Stapleton, Treder Lang, and Beagen were indeed in attendance. I want to thank Drs. Nelson Maylone, Michael McVey and Sandy Norton for the leadership roles they shared on the summit since its inception almost a year ago. The resounding success of the summit has sparked interest in it becoming an annual event - an idea the administration strongly supports.
Many of you heard about the collapse of the Indoor Practice Facility on November 29 when a seam in the air-supported structure gave way. The facility is expected be back on line soon; however, I wanted to make sure we recognized two students who were working inside the facility when it collapsed and acted quickly to help people get out safely. They are here with us today -- please join me in recognizing and thanking students Megan Trapp and Rachel Washburn, both members of the EMU women's soccer team!
As was announced last Friday, I have accepted the presidency of Towson University near Baltimore, starting January 25, 2016. This decision was not an easy one for me. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work we do here at Eastern Michigan University, and a great fondness for our amazing students, faculty, staff, leadership team, alumni and community partners, as well as the current Board of Regents and Regent Emeriti that I have served under. I have loved coming to work at Eastern every day for the last four years and serving the university’s important mission as a public regional university committed to diversity, inclusion, academic excellence and access. Eastern Michigan and its people have been most generous and given far more to me than I ever could have imagined.
While I am saddened to be leaving this most special university, the opportunity to move closer to my family and my roots on the east coast, and to another outstanding institution such as Towson, was an opportunity I could not ignore. But I will be taking a part of Eastern with me as my fondness, gratitude, and admiration for this university and its people will never diminish with distance nor time.
In closing, I would like to thank the Board of Regents, students, faculty, staff, and alumni for leading this great University forward. There is much to be proud of at Eastern Michigan University... and great things ahead!
Other accomplishments are listed in the Appendix to this report on the University website. Thank you, Chair Morris.
Interim President, Provost
And Executive Vice President of Academic
And Student Affairs
- Benjamin Armes’ documentary “Dream it. Build it. Skate it.” on the Ann Arbor community’s efforts to build a skate park won the 2015 Mountain Film Festival’s Sir Edmund Hillary Award.
- Ozlem Kubra Akdogan, Atman Fozdar, and Milena Garay Tovar were awarded scholarships from the Powder Coatings Institute.
- Hannah Armstrong, Kaley Austin, Joshua Colina, Mackensi Crenshaw, Marisa Gilliam, Olivia Grills, Michael Hillegass, Nafiah Khan, Rachel Kindred, Julia Miyahara, Mitchell Meyer, Genevieve Moore, Gracie Murphy, Lillian Richards, Meredith Stout, Hannah Van Winkle, Leah VanLandingham, Abigail Vermeulen, Jesse Wotring, and Reem Yassine were awarded Presidential Scholarships for 2015-16.
- The Eastern Michigan University chapter of Beta Alpha Psi, a national accounting honors organization, has been recognized internationally as a superior chapter for the 16th year in a row.
- Eastern Michigan University was the only Michigan university ranked among the top 50 universities in the country as a "Best Value for Residential Master's of Education."
- Eastern Michigan University and the Louis Stokes Midwest Center of Excellence (LSMCE) recently signed a collaborative agreement to increase the number of under-represented minority students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). With the agreement, EMU becomes a part of a network of institutions led by Chicago State University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
- EMU alumnus Elizabeth Sirman was named Urban Teacher of the Year at the EMU Education Summit on November 14.
Gifts & Grants
- Eastern Michigan University has received a federal grant from U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Program of nearly $2 million to strengthen its efforts in educating its students in STEM disciplines, with a special emphasis on bringing women and minorities into those fields.
- Eastern received a $361,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation to expand programs for low-income families in several Ypsilanti housing projects, to support the Ypsilanti Family Empowerment Program.
- EMU’s SMART Project was awarded $53,926 from the state’s Campus Sexual Assault Program. The SMART Project is designed to enhance survivor safety and services; provide appropriate education programs for the prevention of sexual assaults; offer bystander training to students; and implement university policies and process to more effectively respond to incidents of sexual assault.
- The Office of Academic Service Learning was awarded a $3,600 mini-grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, through the Arts Alliance, to launch Y Trikes: A Community Art & Building Project.
- International officials, researchers, environmentalists and conservation groups will gather on December 9 to discuss the latest environmental research and management efforts in the Lake St. Clair-western Lake Erie waterways, during the State of the Strait conference.
- During the Graduate Research Conference on November 20, more than 225 students presented their findings, inventions, and creative activity through oral, art and poster sessions.
- EMU celebrated International Week by hosting a variety of multicultural themed events and activities on November 15-19.
- Faculty artists from Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan brought creative research, talent into play for Common Room: An EMU/Stamps Faculty Exhibition on November 14. The exhibit looked at artistic research in fields like biology, sociology, psychology, economy, technology, ecology, politics and social justice.
- The “EMU Education Summit: Building Strong Urban Schools” conference was held on November 14. The summit provided an opportunity for communities, school districts and teachers to talk to each other and to university faculty about what’s working and what more can be done to help schools, along with spotlighting the contributions of academics and others who have studied urban education issues.
- The Michigan Collegiate Job Fair was held on November 13 and is one of the state’s largest career fairs, with more than 120 employers participating.
- The Center for Multicultural Affairs, in collaboration with EMU Military and Veterans Services and the ROTC Department hosted a luncheon to honor veterans on November 11.
- More than 300 middle-school girls participated in the Digital Divas event on November 6, which was focused on showing girls that careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields can not only be lucrative, but fun and rewarding careers.
- Women’s and Gender Studies Department celebrated their 40-year anniversary by honoring women who have made significant achievement for women in scholarship and politics on October 23.
- Jonathan Pytko, from Pixar Animation, gave a presentation on October 21 about his experience working on “The Good Dinosaur”.
- Teams of interior design students transformed four blank spaces into their own design concepts during a Designer’s Challenge at the Home and Lifestyle Shows of Michigan on October 17-18.
- Swoop’s Student Food Pantry has distributed 3,882 pounds of food to 328 EMU students in its first two months of operation. Donations have been received by alumni, faculty, staff, and community supporters.
- Cross Country (Women): The Eagles claimed their first ever MAC title at the 2015 MAC Championships. Alsu Bogdanova was named the individual MAC Champion.
- Cross Country (Women): The women’s cross country team landed seven harriers on the 2015 MAC Academic All-MAC Team: Anna Aldrich, Danielle Bentzley, Amy Frauhammer, Sofie Gallein, Jordann McDermitt, Claire Mesa, and Lauren Pottschmidt.
- Cross Country (Men): The Eagles repeated as MAC Conference Champions at the 2015 MAC Championships on October 31.
- Cross Country (Men): Nick Raymond was named the individual MAC Champion. He also took eighth at Regionals qualifying for the NCAA Championship.
- Cross Country (Men): The men's cross country team landed six harriers on the 2015 MAC Academic All-MAC Team: Hlynur Andresson, Lahsene Bouchikhi, Willy Fink, Mitch Lenneman, Nick Raymond, and Cameron Trinh.
- Football (Men): Great Ibe was named to the All-MAC second team. Darius Jackson was named third team All-MAC and was also selected to play in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game.
- Soccer (Women): Soccer team landed 12 student-athletes on the 2015 MAC Academic All-Mac Team: Kristin Nason, Stef Barcelos, Jennifer Bentley, Madison Hirsch, Gabriella Mancini, Michelle Rollins, Ellie Tillar, Chelsie Oddan, Hallee Kansman, Julia Lombardi, Megan Trapp, and Megan McCabe.
- Soccer (Women): Kristin Nason was named to the 2015 All-MAC Freshman Team.
- Swimming & Diving (Women): The College Swimming Coach Association of America announced that EMU was one of 110 programs to post a perfect 100 Graduation Success Rate (GSR).
- Volleyball (Women): Freshman Cassie Haut was named to the 2015 All-MAC Freshman Team, while Corynne Smith was named All-MAC Honorable Mention.
- Director of Sports Performance Ron McKeefery was selected as the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) College Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.
- Shirley Spork, a 1949 graduate of then Michigan State Normal College and one of the founding members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and the LPGA National Golf School, was presented the 2015 Patty Berg Award at the annual year-end 2015 Rolex Awards Celebration.