Welcome to the 2016-2017 Academic Year!

September 7, 2016

Dear students, faculty and staff: 

Welcome to the first day of classes of the 2016–2017 academic year! The start of fall classes on a college campus is always exciting. I want to wish all of you — new and returning students, new and returning faculty, our dedicated staff- all the best as we start the 2016–2017 academic year.

We have already had a wonderful start to the year. The first day of freshman move-in on Friday was outstanding — we had great weather and hundreds of student, faculty, staff and alumni volunteers. Thank you to all who participated.

This was followed by energizing, informative and fun-filled orientation activities, including the enthusiastic Convocation event and opening football game on Friday, which we won by the score of 61–14; Saturday’s large Playfair icebreaker event; Sunday’s new student receptions hosted by Students of Color, LGBTQ, Transfer Students, and TRIO/SSS Student Support Services; and, Monday’s Fajita Fest, where students had the opportunity learn more about how to participate and join Eastern’s 200+ student organizations. It was a packed weekend – filled with school spirit and excitement!

As we begin the new academic year, here are a few pieces of exciting news that we encourage you to share.

Faculty and academics

We are pleased to welcome 38 new faculty members and eight new full-time lecturers to the Eastern Michigan University community this fall. I have had the opportunity to meet many of our new instructors – they are wonderfully talented educators and will join our world-class faculty and lecturers and continue to enhance the strong academic reputation of our University.

For new and current students, I will repeat one of my “top 10” points for starting a new academic year that I shared with students at the Convocation event last Friday: Get to know at least one professor every semester – take advantage of their office hours so you get to know them, and they get to know you.

Freshman enrollment

Preliminary fall semester enrollment indicates Eastern Michigan University has enrolled the third largest entering freshman class in its 167-year history. While final enrollment numbers will not be available for several weeks, preliminary figures indicate that 2,780 first-time freshmen are beginning their college education at Eastern this fall.

The entering class continues Eastern’s momentum in recent years, in which the University has grown in freshman enrollment in the face of declining demographic trends for high school seniors in the state of Michigan. Since Fall 2010, when the University enrolled a total of 2,002 new freshmen, the entering class has grown by 39 percent.

The entering freshman class also displays solid academic preparation, further growth of The Honors College, an increase in international students, and it spotlights the strong level of diversity to be found on Eastern’s campus.

Complete details about this fall’s enrollment can be found in the fall enrollment news release.

Expansion of dining options

We are offering a wide variety of new dining options for students and employees this fall. Among them are Smashburger and Zingerman’s Coffee.

The expansion is part of a major overhaul of campus dining services over the next two years, part of an $18 million investment t hat will result in a significant transformation of  EMU campus dining in the month s ahead.

We are pleased to report that Dining Services continues to provide excellent student employment opportunities and is on track to meet or exceed the number of student employment hours from last year. Virtually all staff personnel who did not retire or leave on their own are back with us this year.

Other summer construction

Over the summer, many other construction projects were completed. This includes three of the four phases of the renovation of Wise Hall, with new windows, interior and exterior renovations, air conditioning, bathroom renovations and new student furniture. The renovations reflect our ongoing efforts to reinvest in academic and student facilities.

Other significant projects include investments in energy savings, improved campus lighting, and parking lot renovations. Read a complete wrap-up of all of the summer constructions activities.

We are currently working with the state of Michigan in planning our next major construction project, the renovation of Strong Hall, part of the Science Complex. The project will begin in 2017 and as soon as we have final details we will share them with the campus community.

New student lounge

I am pleased to announce that a new student lounge, The Intersection, will open on the second floor of the Student Center. This space is intended for all students to gather, with a focus on our underrepresented populations. It will be an inclusive space that supports our diverse student body by providing a place for students to come together to be empowered, create community, and grow. The Diversity and Community Involvement (DCI) Office will manage this space, as The Intersection is closely aligned with the structure of DCI’s four centers: Women’s Resource Center; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center; Vision Volunteer Center; and the Center of Race & Ethnicity. A formal dedication and opening will take place on Wednesday, September 21 at 11 a.m. The campus community is invited to participate in this important celebration. 

Tomorrow’s Welcome Picnic

Please join me at tomorrow’s President’s Welcome Back to Campus Picnic from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. outside of Welch Hall, near Starkweather Hall and the Chavez Fountain. The picnic features a free, light lunch for all members of the Eastern Michigan University community.

A couple of other reminders:

Join us this Sunday, September 11 at 8:40 a.m. for a Ceremony of Remembrance of the 15th anniversary of 9/11. A brief ceremony will take place at Eastern’s 9/11 Memorial, which features a beam from the World Trade Center, located behind Pease Auditorium at the corner of Cross and Perrin streets.

Homecoming week is October 3–8. You can learn more about the most spirited week on campus on the Homecoming website. An ongoing schedule of all campus events can be found on the Calendar and Events page of the University’s website.   

Again, best wishes to everyone for a great 2016–2017 Academic Year!


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

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