Eastern Michigan University responds to faculty unions’ town hall meeting

YPSILANTI --  Last Friday, March 16, the faculty unions at Eastern Michigan University announced plans for a town hall meeting for this week, on Thursday, March 22.

In an in-person meeting on Monday, March 12 with the AAUP union president, EMU President James Smith explained that he might not be able to attend due to events surrounding the University’s annual Week of Excellence celebration. This is one of the most important academic weeks of the year for Eastern students and faculty as hundreds of students present the outcome of their projects and research to the broader EMU community.

President Smith’s pre-scheduled commitment to participate in two events this afternoon/ evening and the offer of other possible dates were included in follow up discussions with the union. Rather than adjusting the schedule to allow for the President's involvement, the union decided to proceed with the initial date and time. The discussion planned for the town hall involves serious issues that should include the involvement of the President.

The two events taking place late this afternoon/evening are the College of Education Celebration of Excellence; and, the Pre-Reception for the Undergraduate Symposium, which includes the Design Expo Gallery Opening.

The University is committed to offering accurate information in response to the varied questions, perspectives and misinformation that can arise during such a stressful time. 

Such an approach becomes more important as colleges and universities nationwide face declining enrollments due to fewer high school and community college students and long-term reductions in funding from state governments.

Eastern Michigan University is not immune to these trends, and it must adjust spending to ensure it has the resources to invest in financial aid for students and dynamic academic programs -- all of which will support students and faculty for decades to come.

The University is committed to communicating regularly about efforts to realign its resources to meet the objectives outlined for us by the Higher Learning Commission, and to ensure it continues to invest in high demand high-quality academic programs and world-class facilities.

A budget information website has been developed with background information, including this week’s announcement regarding the budget reductions in Athletics, previous campus messages and news releases, slides from budget presentations, responses to issues that have been raised, and other information.

It should be pointed out the University’s actions related to Athletics echo the recommendations of the Faculty Senate Budget Committee, which is the primary faculty input body regarding financial matters at the University. The recommendations from the Faculty Senate Budget Committee in each of the last three years called for reductions in Athletics spending.

The website includes information regarding the agreement with an outside parking vendor to provide $55 million to the University to bolster reserves and provide for investment in upgrades to academic and student-centered facilities such as Sill Hall (College of Technology), the Rec/IM, Quirk/Sponberg Theatre, the Gary Owen Building (College of Business) and the Science Complex.

President Smith is committed to continuing to communicate budget-related information with the campus community and will do so through the Faculty Senate, as he did on March 14, 2018, and in other appropriate forums. 

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.

March 22, 2018

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom