March 02, 2018

Eastern Michigan University focusing on high-demand programs tailored to today’s job market, President James Smith tells Lansing lawmakers

Annual testimony to appropriations subcommittee touches on EMU’s key partnerships, serving students in creative ways, safety and security, and efficient stewardship

YPSILANTI – Eastern Michigan University continues to tailor its new academic offerings to meet the demands of today’s Michigan economy while maintaining its commitment to ensuring student safety and efficient stewardship of resources, President James Smith told Lansing lawmakers Thursday (March 1).

EMU President James M. Smith

“As the economy continues to grow, the new challenge facing our State is ensuring that we have the talent to meet employers’ demands,” President Smith told members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education in his annual testimony before that group. “As an example, it is estimated that 1,000 engineering jobs go unfilled in Michigan every day.  To help address that challenge, Eastern is developing new academic programs in leading-edge areas.”

President Smith noted that this year EMU launched a new mechanical engineering program, and is also starting a new program in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Other, new high-demand programs include Data Science & Analytics, a Master’s in Finance and a bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

“Simply put, we are investing in Michigan students today to fill the Michigan jobs of tomorrow,” President Smith said.

Other highlights from President Smith’s testimony included:

Key partnerships

Last month, EMU entered into a collaboration with Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and IHA to build a new health facility on Eastern’s campus that will feature primary and urgent care services.

• Over the last 21 months, EMU entered into major strategic agreements with outside partners, including a new innovative partnership to monetize Eastern’s parking operations – a 35-year agreement that provided $55 million to the University.  EMU also moved to privatize our dining operations, which resulted in more than $31 million in upfront payments, capital investment in facilities and student scholarships – a partnership that also has increased employment opportunities for students on our campus.

Serving students

• President Smith noted that Eastern’s hard-working students form a cross-section of Michigan backgrounds and geographies, hailing from 77 of Michigan’s 83 counties. More than 40 percent of those students receive Pell Grants, and nearly 80 percent report working full-or part-time while attending Eastern.

• EMU has distinct partnerships with the community that offer special opportunities to high school students. Those include the Early College Alliance, which brings high school students to campus for early college credit, which they can earn for free; along with the Eastern Scholars program, where teachers in the high schools are trained to deliver college-level curriculum, or EMU instructors deliver the curriculum on-site at the high school.

Title IX and Campus Safety

• In light of recent events, President Smith Eastern offered an update on Eastern’s comprehensive Title IX policies, noting the University has implemented numerous successful training initiatives. Those include training proposals funded through First Lady Susan Snyder’s initiative to end sexual assault on college campuses. EMU also hosted the sold-out Sexual Assault Prevention Summit last Fall.

• On a broader scale, Eastern has invested significantly in its police force and in new safety technologies, including cameras and new lighting across campus.


• In February, the University fired up a new cogeneration energy unit that that will provide more than 90% of the University’s electricity and heat, and save more than $2.8 million annually in energy costs, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The system is the most technically sophisticated in the state.

The full text of President Smith’s testimony can be found on the communications link on the President’s web page.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


Contact Geoff Larcom,, 734.487.4401

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