Campus Update - September 1, 2022

To the Eastern Michigan University community,

Welcome to the new academic year! It is wonderful to see our campus bustling with activity as students arrived Monday for the first day of fall semester classes. It also is a joy to see our faculty and staff, who are committed to our students’ success, back in full force to welcome our students.

The fall semester is always an incredible experience on Eastern’s campus. Of course, our campus is rich with greenery as August winds down and this will turn into the beauty of the colors of the fall season not too long from now. We’ve developed a special Explore Your Campus webpage that will help our new and returning students learn more about the great things in place to welcome you back this fall and to help ensure you have a successful start to the semester.

The beginning of the academic year provides an excellent opportunity to share important information and updates about our plans and highlight some of the major projects underway. I encourage you to read this message in its entirety as it may answer some questions you have.

In today’s message, we’ll update the following items:

  • COVID-19 Protocols
  • Welcome Home 2025 Campus Housing Transformation
  • Summer and Fall Construction Projects
  • Faculty Union Contract Negotiations/Recent Agreements with Other Bargaining Units
  • Friday's Opening Football Game
  • Labor Day Weekend

COVID-19 Protocols

On Monday, students received a comprehensive update on the University’s protocols related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and University employees received a similar update last week. I encourage you to visit the EMU Safe website and view “Latest Updates” to review those messages in detail and refer back to them as needed throughout the semester.

Considerable effort has been made over the last two years to keep our community as safe as possible and we will continue to work with our local health department and follow all guidance from the CDC and other agencies. A reminder that the COVID-19 Testing Center, which is free and located in the Student Center, is open most days. Please check the website for hours of operation, and registration is required in advance.

Welcome Home 2025 Campus Housing Transformation

Many of you have noticed the construction fencing just east of the Student Center and around the Westview Apartments on the west side of campus. These are the future sites of two new apartment-style housing units to be constructed as part of Welcome Home 2025, a transformational $200 million project which will begin later this fall. In addition to these two new buildings, other residence halls will be renovated to include air conditioning and enhanced Wi-Fi. Students have played a key part in the planning process – participating in focus groups and surveys to contribute ideas and suggestions. For a look at what to expect, please view this video and visit the Welcome Home 2025 website.

Summer and Fall Construction Projects

Many other construction and facilities updates are complete or are taking place, including:

  • Relocation of the outdoor basketball and sand volleyball courts to the new site near the Rec/IM. This is part of the construction planning for Welcome Home 2025;
  • Updates in ventilation and air circulation [PDF] in buildings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19;
  • Construction of a new park in front of GameAbove College of Engineering and Technology thanks to a gift from GameAbove, the EMU alumni group;
  • Demolition and site restoration of the former Snow Health Center;
  • Expansion and renovation of Swoops Food Pantry;
  • Installation of a new marching band field;
  • Installation of new turf for the soccer and lacrosse field;
  • Interior and exterior updates to George Gervin GameAbove Center, thanks to a gift from GameAbove; and,
  • Various campus concrete repairs focused on ADA improvements and other building enhancements.

Faculty Union Contract Negotiations/Recent Agreements with Other Bargaining Units

Contract negotiations continue with the union representing faculty, the EMU-AAUP. These discussions are ongoing and bargaining teams on both sides are working diligently and are committed to reaching an agreement. The University has requested the assistance of an independent fact-finder to help the two bargaining teams resolve key issues. As we continue this process, it is important that I share my great respect for Eastern’s excellent faculty. I look forward to achieving a fair and equitable contract that supports our faculty and is economically sustainable for the University. A key consideration behind all of our efforts in these negotiations is to balance what we do at the bargaining table with the impact of increased costs on our students. Please visit the contract negotiations page for the latest information and ongoing updates.

In the meantime, we’re pleased to have reached agreements with three other bargaining units over the summer. These include our clerical and secretarial employees, full-time lecturers and part-time lecturers. You can learn more about these agreements on EMU Today.

Opening Football Game Friday

We’re excited to begin the football season tomorrow night under the lights inside The Factory at Rynearson Stadium. The Eagles welcome Eastern Kentucky University for a 7 p.m. matchup. EMU Athletics promises an exciting array of festivities to celebrate CommUniversitE Night in honor of the great people who make our community and University a special place. Pregame festivities will feature interactions with student-athletes and coaches, a petting zoo, pony rides, carnival games, and more. Students attend for free with their student ID. For all others, visit the Athletics website or call the ticket office at 734.487.3669.

Labor Day Weekend

As we look ahead to the weekend, I know it seems very early in the semester to get a break in our schedule but I hope everyone will take time to enjoy the long weekend with no classes on Monday.

I am truly excited to see our many incoming first-year students, returning students and all of our employees -- as we return to in-person operations. Let’s make this a great year, Eagles!

Stay well and stay safe.

James Smith, Ph.D.