The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents held a series of meetings Thursday to discuss numerous issues facing EMU including the university’s budget, a possible room and board increase, and athletic programs.
EMU President Susan Martin, proposed a 2.15 percent increase in room and board rates to the Board of Regents.
“This will allow us to respond to rising food and infrastructure costs that were not addressed in last year’s ‘0-0-0’ budget, as well as necessary upgrades to aging facilities, while still providing a competitive rate,” Martin said. “We are reinvigorating strategic planning and are engaged in campus wide budget planning for the 2012 fiscal year to address the 15 percent reduction in state funding proposed by Governor Snyder.”
In the final meeting, select students and faculty members were given time to address any concerns they had. Matthew Evett, President of the University Faculty Senate, expressed concern about proposed budget cuts.
“The Senate has spent a great deal of time formulating a response to the expected cuts to higher education funding in next year’s state budget,” Evett said.
The Senate held a budget forum in March analyzing Eastern’s budget, which was followed up by a resolution about where budget cuts could be made in order to affect students the least.
The faculty senate resolution regarding the university budget was passed unanimously April 6. The senate believes the university can make up for the projected $11 million budget shortfall if it takes certain actions.
The senate proposed the university decreases total spending on administrative-professional costs by $3 million and cease general fund subsidies of the Eagle Crest conference center and golf course, which would save around $600,000 according to the senate.
The resolution also calls to cut the general fund subsidy to the athletics department by $3 million, eliminate $1 million in general fund subsidies of the Convocation Center and asks for 3.5 million in other reductions without cutting the core activities such as academic offerings.
“The resolution does call for budget cuts in the athletics program,” Evett said. “If next year’s budget shows cuts everywhere except athletics, as has been rumored, the faculty will be very upset.”
Athletic Director Derrick L. Gragg spoke of the university’s progress in searching for a new men’s basketball coach.
“There is no shortage of really great candidates,” Gragg said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response to our job posting. Over 30-to-40 coaches have applied to this position. Right now, we’re working with DHR International, which is a search firm design, to help us grab this group and get it down to about 8-to-10 vital candidates.”
Gragg said when it comes to picking the next coach, candidates must meet particular criteria. The new coach should have MAC or regional ties, previous experience as a head coach, a winning track record, and a record clear of any NCAA major violations.
“Hopefully, we’ll have this process wrapped up over the next seven to ten days and then move forward and go through the next level with our basketball program,” he said. “We’re really excited and I think we’re excited about the people coming in and wanting this opportunity.”
Gragg briefed students and staff members of the accomplishments of the athletic department in the past year.
“Proudly, we beat the University of Michigan in the first game here on campus, which was outstanding,” Gragg said. “Then we went on the road and played University of North Carolina of Wilmington, and the challenge with that is that coming back after that victory, the team had a 4 a.m. wake up call to make a connecting flight to get back here to try and catch classes later on in the day.”
Two individual women’s basketball players were recognized for their achievements at the meeting as well. Honors student Tavelyn James, set a school record for most points in a single season having scored 642 points. Senior Cassie Schrock played in an EMU record number of 126 games.
Also discussed during the Athletic Affairs Committee meeting, was the women’s track team, which won the indoor track championship for the first time in ten years. Coach Sue Parks, a former EMU student and EMU Hall of Fame athlete, took over the program five years ago while the team was in last place in the conference. In other highlights regarding athletics, the softball team is currently tied for first place in the MAC.
Gragg said the Indoor Practice Facility — inflated Feb. 7, 2010 — has received honors.
“Eastern Michigan University’s new indoor practice facility has been honored as one of the top construction projects in the Washtenaw County area last year in an annual competition sponsored by the Washtenaw Contractors Association,” he said. “We won first place for best project team in the categories for new facilities costing between $3 million and $25 million in the 14th annual Pyramid Awards.”
The Board of Regents will convene again June 21. Final decisions regarding budget cuts and a possible tuition increase will be announced at the meeting.
Editor-in-Chief Katrease Stafford contributed to this report.