Welcome to the 2018-2019 Academic Year

September 5, 2018

Dear students, faculty and staff: 

Welcome to the 2018-2019 academic year! The start of fall classes on a university campus is always exciting. I want to wish all of you -- new and returning students, faculty, and staff – the very best as we start the new academic year.

Move-in weekend provided a dynamic and energizing start to the new academic year. Once again this year, I traveled across campus to experience it first hand. From residence hall to residence hall, to the family picnic, our opening Convocation and the football game, to the various important weekend orientation events -- it was wonderful to see the excitement and efforts to launch the new year in a positive and inspirational fashion. The football game provided a great start to the season – with the Eagles rolling to an impressive 51-17 victory.

I would like to thank the hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni volunteers who helped make this a great opening weekend. Just as important as your strength in carrying boxes and TVs was the warmth of the smiles and the kind words that were shared. 

As we begin the new academic year, we have much positive news to share. Here are a few highlights:

Faculty and academics

We are pleased to welcome 16 new faculty members and 7 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 talented and caring educators and will continue to enhance the strong academic reputation of our University. 

For new and returning students, I encourage you to truly connect with one professor every semester – take advantage of their office hours so you get to know them, and they get to know you and your academic and career goals. I promise you, it will be worth the time and effort.

Here is some other great news that you may have missed over the summer: 

  • we were named a “Best in the Midwest” university by The Princeton Review for the 16th  consecutive year;
  • Eastern’s Clinical Research Administration program was ranked number four in the nation;
  • the online master’s program in Educational Psychology was ranked among the nation’s best;
  • our Teacher Education programs were recognized for national excellence in the  reaccreditation  process;
  • the Simulation, Animation and Gaming program was ranked 23rd  in the nation;
  • Eastern was recognized as Michigan’s top  LGBTQ-friendly university; and,
  • Eastern was ranked in the top 25 nationally for our support to students on the autism spectrum.

These are wonderful recognitions on many fronts, and I congratulate everyone involved. 

Construction and renovation

A great deal of work took place over the summer to prepare campus for your arrival.  The ongoing renovation of Strong Hall highlights the active summer of construction

Other projects include significant renovations to dining areas in the Student Center; renovations to the Eastern Eateries, which are near completion; the completion of the Loop 1 electrical project to install new electrical service equipment to 20 buildings across campus; the start of construction for the new roadway to access the new health center (to be completed in 2019); construction of the sports medicine and training facility; investment in more security features and lighting in a variety of areas across campus; renovations to Quirk Theatre; replacement of the roof of Briggs Hall; new flooring and other renovations in the College of Business; elevator upgrades in Pray  Harrold; and renovations in Alexander, Ford and Sellers halls, and The Village apartments.  

This academic year will see the launch of major new projects targeting Sill Hall, the Rec/IM, and the build out of the fifth floor of the Science Complex.

Many of our parking lots received major upgrades, thanks to the investment of our new parking partner,  ParkEMU . In addition to the University receiving an upfront payment of $55 million,  ParkEMU  is committing $4.2 million over the next three years to upgrade University parking facilities.

The following lots were improved over the summer:  Oakwood  South;  McKenny  Visitor Lot; Normal Lots; Porter Circle; and, the Green Lot.

We continue to invest in our campus and are excited about these enhancements and what they will mean to our students, faculty and staff.

Title IX

I want to reiterate the ongoing importance of Title IX and the University’s commitment to providing a learning, living and working environment free from discrimination of all kinds, including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Our Title IX Office and Title IX Coordinator, Dr. Melody Werner, are available and prepared to respond to any questions or reported incidents. You can contact the office through the  website or by telephone at 734.487.3617


Join us next Tuesday, September 11, at 8:30 a.m. for a Ceremony of Remembrance of the 17th 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.

I will host my first annual State of the University address on Monday, September 17 from 4 to 5 p.m. It is open to all students, faculty and staff and will take place in the Student Center Auditorium. 

Homecoming week is October 22 -- 27. You can learn more about the most spirited week on campus on the Homecoming website. I hope to see you at  Rynearson  Stadium on Saturday, October 27 for the Homecoming football match-up against Army.  The complete football schedule can be found on the Athletics website

One of the University’s signature events, the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. week of celebration, honor and tribute, will take place from January 17 – 22, 2019.

An ongoing schedule of all campus events can be found on the Calendar & Events page of the University’s website.  

Again, best wishes to everyone for a great and fulfilling 2018-2019 academic year!


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

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