Once again, I am overlooked

Marty TRUEMUAs Heritage Newspapers reported, “New campaign at Eastern Michigan University features faculty excellence.”  To quote the press release/article:

The Office of Marketing for Eastern Michigan University has launched its second phase of TRUEMU. The campaign focuses on faculty excellence.

“This phase of our campaign is designed to focus on our faculty all-stars,” said Ted Coutilish, vice president for marketing and promotions, “to showcase their individuality and really, really show the university through different perspectives.”

I’m happy to see this fine picture of my friend and colleague.  Still, I’m disappointed that my own contribution to the TRUEMU campaign hasn’t been turned into a light post banner.


20 thoughts on “Once again, I am overlooked

  1. I spend money on endless marketing campaigns and campus beautification efforts while laying off popular faculty and student affairs personnel. – I am TrooMu


  2. The article states that the deans were each told to select four faculty for inclusion on these posters, because the deans know the faculty best. Really? Would even 10% of the EMU faculty agree that their dean knows the faculty best? Most of the faculty feel regularly devalued by our deans! Mediocre, out of touch deans are what unit the EMU faculty!

    Not that there’s anything wrong with the fine group of faculty depicted, though it under-represents CAS and over-represents former administrators. Kind of oddly unbalanced.


    • That’s a good point, EMUVet. You would have thought that the administration/marketing folks would have at least reached all the way down to department heads for input, but I guess that’s a little too much like mixing with “the common people.” Though I suspect in practice, deans probably asked department heads for recommendations.

      I don’t mind these True Mu banners that much because they at least try to bring some focus on the educational mission of the place and on some of the people doing the teaching. The whole campaign is kind of a problem for me, but that’s a slightly different story.


  3. While I certainly think it’s a good idea to feature “top” (however they’re selected) faculty in such a promotion, I think the current batch of banners are terrible.


  4. Is it possible the deans went to the department heads and asked for recommendations? And perhaps a dialogue was held and selections made? And then, perhaps, the faculty had to agree to be featured (I am sure not all wanted the honor) and then the process continued to the next candidate?


  5. While it is great to identify accomplished students (the customers), then faculty, but what about various staff members. Believe me, without them this place would not be able to function. These are a group of individuals that keep this place clean, operating and safe for everyone. They are the ones that answer phones, solve problems, fix and clean up things. It may not be glamorous but ask anyone that has had an issue that has been addressed and solved how important it was to them.


  6. Has anyone noticed the LED sign off of exit 183 on 94? EMU Social Work is advertising their #89 overall ranking by actually saying they are #89! Who are we paying to market this stuff again? Saying you’re #89 sounds like nothing, whereas Top 100 or ‘one of the best’ or something more positive is a winner…but “We’re Number 89!”…..sheesh


  7. ET, You make a good point about the LED sign. I saw it this morning. “We’re #89!” makes you wonder if you could find 88 better choices than 89. Of course that sign does EMU no good at all and is much ridiculed by green conscious college bound young people in this county.


  8. I’m actually on one of those banners.

    I tend to agree that things here are too top down. However, my main focus is on trying to get more students in the place, so that we can give them a high quality experience that prepares them for the job market.

    Our mission doesn’t exist without students, and we’re hurting there.


    • But how many students do we have to have to not be ‘hurting?’ There are over 23,000 students now. Is there a student population that is the ‘optimal’ number based on the facilities, desks, and chairs, or has university become such a business enterprise that it’s more about output than outcomes…how many filled seats and beds as opposed to how much impact our resources have on those students who are here already.

      I also don’t understand how having higher enrollment leads to higher quality education, it seems fundamentally that the opposite is more likely to be true – closer to 1 on 1 instead of 1 on 25. Why not aim to have smaller class sizes with more selective admissions, instead of a broad let’s have everyone and anyone come on in so we can get the money to pay the bills. The focus should be on quality, not quantity, and I don’t believe they are necessarily connected.


      • There seems to be this deadly cycle that also relates to the other posting on the horrendous job market: less state money means schools need more tuition to pay the bills, so they let more students in, which saturates the job market, which leads to more students going back to school who can’t find jobs, which leads to less state revenue from personal taxes, which leads to cutting more funding, which leads to schools adding more seats, which leads to even more saturating of the job market, resulting in even less jobs, and here we go again and again.

        This is especially true of the legal market right now. I’m about to graduate from law school next week, and I’ve heard constantly from the industry and my school that the job market is horrible. Yet law schools are expanding enrollment year after year , which is just putting more lawyers into the market with less jobs to fight after. Education is important for everyone I believe, but the outcomes that education were intended to produce are being lost by the sheer numbers in students as schools’ outputs (like a factory), since this numbers-driven game rather than quality is only creating a problem more than a solution to other problems.

        We simply need to start capping enrollment numbers across the board and only increase them in areas where society is in need of those professions/trades. EMU has always been a teacher college, but society has too many teachers, so we’re only hurting our students and graduates by training more to enter an empty job market. Meanwhile we have a very small contingent of nursing students with a strict cap on enrollment in that program, while society begs for more medical professionals. Law schools should only have 50-60 students per class, not 150+ (and growing) like they do now. Remove caps and expand the programs in the fields with jobs, and cap enrollment on programs that prepare students for jobs that don’t exist. It’ll save the school money, students money (who go into severe debt and then have to select a new field or go back to school again) and it’ll be good for society (the original purpose of education in the first place).


      • Well, here’s the thing: the reason why EMU wants to admit more students (and the same goes for your law school) is because in an era in which the state don’t pay much toward higher education, EMU’s best bet for paying the bills is admitting more students. Sure we want to extend opportunity and all that, but EMU also needs to pay the bills.

        Your point about EMU being a “teacher’s school” is a good one, and I worry about that too. Though I recall someone posting here at one point that more students at EMU are majoring in something other than in the college of ed.


  9. The focus should be on quality, not quantity, and I don’t believe they are necessarily connected.

    OK, if quantity and quality are not connected , the whole case for having smaller class sizes to promote quality falls apart.

    We’re in a situation where we have to do one of two things:
    1. Admit more students to pay the bills.
    2. Charge students more.

    From an ethical standpoint, we can’t really do either if we’re not doing our best to provide a path to good outcomes. That’s really where the rubber meets the road. I think we need to rethink our whole business model which is why I have done the following in the past four years:
    1. Created courses focused on professional development toward jobs that are really there.
    2. Created a workshop to showcase student talent to the local business community for something they find very valuable.

    In short, we need to work dramatically harder on connecting with the outside world.


  10. Bud,
    Your observations are sage, but of course EMU admits every student who meets the admissions office criteria and applies. We aren’t rejecting significant numbers of qualified students (aside possibly for a few special degree programs at the graduate level). The issue of quality of instruction in a given classroom is quite often closely tied to the class size — and is a very different question than the quality of incoming students, measured by their high school GPAs or ACT. There is, I believe, good evidence in studies on factors contributing to students’ success or lack of it while in college that find class size is very relevant.

    And all discussions of quality of offerings to students at EMU, if they are honest discussions, must include the $20 million white elephant that is EMU’s Division I athletics program. It costs EMU students roughly $20 million, taken from student generated income, above total athletics derived revenue. EMU has one of the largest, in absolute dollars, subsidies for athletics of any university in the country — and our students can’t afford this “tax”. Nor can our academic programs! There’s no fan base, no market demand, for EMU basketball or football, but they each suck revenue out of the academic programs, for which their is market demand.

    I’ll get off the soapbox now — but Bud, I will say you look good on that banner!


    • Just to comment on two quick things here for now, Mark: first, I’m not sure what you are saying about whoever applies gets into EMU. We clearly aren’t as selective as that liberal arts college with the football team in Ann Arbor, but I don’t think we are technically an “open admissions” university. And second, not that there’s anything wrong with that– I’m all for extending opportunity, though there are a lot of problems associated with that that I won’t go into right now.

      Second, I think what Bud is talking about when he says we need to work harder at connecting with the “outside world” is we need to do a better job at making the connections between what we do at EMU– in terms of majors and employment opportunities, at least I assume.


  11. I don’t think we disagree, Sitedad, and I didn’t use the term “open admissions.” I said EMU accepts all qualified applicants – that is, those who meet the admissions standard set by admissions. I think that figure is around 85% of all undergraduate applicants, but it could be higher or lower, I don’t recall precisely.

    Such high admissions rates are typical for regional public universities.

    Some of those admitted are functionally unprepared for college work, and fail within a year or so. This explains some, but not all, of our always under 40% graduation rate within 6 years of starting college as a first year at EMU. High school GPA is a good predictor of college success, and year after year EMU admits students who predictably fail out. I think that’s unfair to them and harmful to the whole university community….but as one former VP told me, “they help pay for the football team.”


    • Oh, I agree completely here, I think the less than ideal graduation rates are also typical of regional universities like EMU, and this is clearly the case across the country. Most schools with a direction in its title have less than great graduation rates.

      But I guess I would add two thoughts to that. First (and I’ve said this one here before many times before), if the powers that be were to somehow change the rules so that EMU (and CMU, WMU, etc., etc.) had to increase graduation rates or face severe penalties, then these schools would get dramatically more selective. That would mean a lot Michigan citizens would not have access to a college degree.

      Second, it might pay for the football team, but it also pays for the people working at EMU– including in the English and History departments– books in the library, paving in the parking lot, electricity, and everything else you can think of. Tuition pays almost all of the bills around here, which is why the suits are so sensitive to enrollment levels.


  12. I know that not everyone is a math major/math professor, so I apologize if this is too difficult a story problem.

    BlueCollar Background attends EMU as a first-year student. BlueCollar Background works half-time to pay the bills for a four-year degree and attends EMU half-time.

    If BlueCollar Background continues this schedule, how long will it take BlueCollar Background to graduate. Assume no failures and no repeats.

    Hint: Two to the third power is a delightful number.


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