Susan Martin, Eastern Michigan University’s first female president, announced Tuesday she is stepping down from her position after seven years at the helm.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your president,” Martin said. “But it is time to move forward and open up my life to new challenges and opportunities. After seven years as president, I will be moving on to the next chapter in my life.”
Martin will stay with the university, transferring back to business school faculty when she steps down in July. She will take a year-long sabbatical that is provided to her in her contract, which pays $340,000 and expires in July 2016.
Martin is Eastern Michigan University’s 22nd president and the first woman to hold the position. She officially leaves her position on July 7, 2015.
Martin’s time at EMU has been marked by a mix of accomplishments and controversies.
Since Martin took the job in 2008, enrollment at EMU has been robust, with year after year of record-breaking freshman classes. And since 2011, enrollment in the university’s Honors College has nearly doubled, according to a university press release.
This is a byproduct of the higher academic standard Martin has held the university to during her time as president, with the average GPA of incoming freshmen rising from 3.05 in 2010 to 3.27 in the fall of 2014.
Despite Martin's accomplishments as Eastern's president, The Board of Regents and Martin have not always seen eye-to-eye.
Martin was involved in an incident in 2012 concerning alcohol abuse during a trip to Washington D.C., which Martin confessed to and apologized for.
A letter written by the Board of Regents said: “In addition to the conduct in Washington D.C. and the prior incidents discussed with you, we are concerned that your misuse of alcohol could result in liability to the University in the use of your University supplied vehicle.”
Martin agreed to go to counseling but denied having a problem.
Martin has also taken a different line on the issue of the university’s involvement in the interlocal agreement with the Education Achievement Authority of Michigan. At the December Regents’ meeting, Martin stood up to recommend that the Regents vote to cut ties with the authority. However, the Regents chose to extend their involvement for at least another year.
“While the student body congratulates Dr. Martin on her tremendous career and on her retirement, we are saddened that our president is leaving,” Student Body President Desmond Miller said in an emailed statement. “She has proven on countless occasions her love for EMU and its student body. This university is a far better place because of her leadership, and we are disappointed that the Board of Regents did not do more to keep her here.”
Now, the Board shifts its attention to searching for a new president as this summer’s contract negotiations quickly approach.
“Our obligation now is to move forward and find the best qualified person to continue leading this University and building on the success President Martin enjoyed as our first ever gender diverse leader,” said chair of the Board of Regents Mike Morris in a university press release.
He said the Board will put together a search committee headed by Regent Michelle Crumm, and in the short-term an interim president will be selected to take over for Martin in July.