Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin introduced the first of three April public forums on EMU’s strategic planning process at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in 308 Pray-Harrold, to an audience of 15 people.
Martin said the challenges the University faces are “a brutal 15 percent cut last year, followed by small one time increases this year and probably next.”
“The only way to get new money is to increase enrollment,” she said.
Claudia Petrescu, director of the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance Program, works on strategic planning for the College of Arts and Sciences. She asked how faculty could be sure the university will follow the plan, and not be asked to do planning all over again in a few years. In response, Martin stressed the Board of Regents puts a high priority on completing and carrying out the strategic plan.
“The board gave me only five top priority goals this year, and this is one of them,” Martin said. “The board is very engaged in the planning process and they are holding me accountable.”
The 20-member Institutional Strategic Planning Commission that Martin and University Strategic Planning official Raouf Hanna co-chair, is developing the plan.
Martin emphasized the importance of writing a plan for the next five years that both reflects the values of EMU and “reaches out and grabs you as uniquely Eastern at every level.”
Martin stressed the ISPC wants to avoid the “bland” statements used by most other institutions.
Martin said she deliberately waited until the fourth year of her presidency before starting the strategic
planning process because there were more immediate problems facing EMU when she arrived: declining enrollment, the need to renovate Pray-Harrold and improve the overall campus environment, a sense of “strategic planning fatigue,” and the need to improve management of the university generally.
According to Martin, EMU has hired an outside firm to do a market analysis by June. She said the university will seek specific direction and recommendations from that analysis.
“We know there are lots of jobs in engineering, but we know we won’t establish a college of engineering,” she said.
She stressed that “EMU needs advice on how to build on our strengths,” such as developing specializations in the Colleges of Education, and Health and Human Services.
Anita Schnars, Human Resources Facilitator, said the group began work in July 2011, with a survey of students, faculty and staff, an “environmental scan” and gathering and analyzing data.
Schnars described one possible disconnect that might occur at EMU because the overall university process is
proceeding independently of divisions and units. The ISPC website shows that among the academic units, Student Success Services, the College of Business and the College of Health and Human Services have completed plans, while the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and College of Technology do not.
Furthermore, according to the website the Divisions of Advancement, Business and Finance, Facilities, Human Resources, Information Technology, Student Enrollment Management and Intercollegiate Athletics each have a strategic plan, while the Divisions of Communications and of Government and Community Relations do not.
Erica Mooney, a student in Urban and Regional Planning, asked why students who are learning about planning have not been more involved in the process since they have a special expertise and motivation. Schnars expressed interest in learning more about how those students might help, and pointed out that the outgoing Student Government President Jelani McGadney has been a member of ISPC for the last year.
Schnars plans for the draft plan to be done by September, so there can be campus-wide discussion before final adoption. She expressed a desire to have a “writing team that includes a faculty member, a good creative writer” to help craft the document.
The other two forums will be at 4 p.m. on April 18 in 141 Science Complex, and 3 p.m. on April 19 in 201 of the College of Business.
The strategic planning process has a website with complete information: www.emich.edu/strategicplan.