So Long, President Martin!

This is the last day we’ll have Susan Martin to kick around as president– I guess she’s coming back on the faculty after a year sabbatical. There’s been a number of tributes and reflections and the like. For example, there’s this press release/recap on Martin’s accomplishments and mLive’s story about an “emotional farewell.”

Anyway, I don’t know what it says that she is retiring as president the same year that I’m retiring as sitedad, but I guess I’ll take advantage of the coincidence to offer a few last thoughts on the Martin presidency.

On the one hand, Martin has been a successful president, and I think her own recap of her successes while in the job speaks to that. On the other hand, the two previous permanent presidents (I’ll skip the interims) set the bar awfully damn low. There was Sam Kirkpatrick, who was more or less run out of town encouraged to leave after ticking off tons of administrators and regents and also building a ridiculously expensive house. Then there was John Fallon, the man who, as president, oversaw the infamous faculty strike of 2006 and who was also fired (more or less) for helping cover up a student murder. Like I said, no place to go but up.

Martin was perhaps a little boring in some ways and I didn’t ever get a real sense of an overall “vision” of where she wanted to take EMU– at least nothing beyond getting stuff done and surviving the never-ending state budget cuts. I always thought that the whole kerfuffle over her arguing with an alumni while allegedly drinking too much was way over-blown and probably fueled by some regents who had some kind of ax to grind. And I also think this mess about reintroducing the Huron logo on the band uniforms is pretty unfortunate– I’m guessing that she and her team wish they could have a do-over on that one.

Students liked her, most faculty thought she was pretty capable, she was involved and visible on campus, and she didn’t phone it in and/or use this job as some kind of stepping stone to whatever else. She ran stuff well and she cared at the same time.

So yeah, I think Martin leaves EMU better than when she got here. Congratulations, enjoy the sabbatical, and we’ll see you at some kind of EMU-AAUP mixer after you’re back on the faculty.

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