“Snyder makes appointments to Eastern Michigan University board of regents”

Like everyone else at EMU, I received an email a bit ago letting me know “Snyder makes appointments to Eastern Michigan University board of regents,” or, as mLive put it, “Gov. Rick Snyder appoints new EMU regents to replace retiring Clack, Parker.” They are kind of curious appointments to me.

Michelle Crumm was on the board at Western Michigan University, “but she resigned from that post in June 2014 saying she couldn’t adequately serve the post being an Ann Arbor resident and having to commute to Kalamazoo.” Hmm. Crumm seems to have made quite the name for herself as a business person (great! we sure need more of that on the board!), but I don’t think she has any connection to EMU– she has degrees from Purdue and UM. That probably explains the easy move in her mind from WMU to EMU. Same diff.

Then there’s Dennis Beagen, a familiar name for folks at EMU. I do have some slight quibbles with the bio from the press release and the mLive article:

Beagen, of Northville, is a communications professor at EMU and previously served as acting associate provost, interim dean of continuing education, professor of communication, head of the Department of Communication, and executive associate to provost for advancement.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from EMU, a master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and an ABD from Wayne State University.

First off, Beagen is professor emeritus–that is, retired– and for most of his long career at EMU, he was the department head in Communications and/or some other kind of suit. I’m not sure how much “professing” he did. Second, “ABD” is not a degree that one is awarded. It stands for “All But Dissertation” and it sometimes is used to designate someone who did doctoral coursework but didn’t actually finish. Beagen holds a Master’s degree and that’s it. Perhaps I’m being petty here, but as someone who actually did what it takes to finish my dissertation and my PhD, it matters to me.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if Beagen has any influence on the board and how that influence manifests itself. Because he was here for a long time– over 30 years, I’m pretty sure– Beagen left EMU with both friends and enemies and with a ton of inside information on all things administrative.


“What is going on at EMU with the EAA?”

From Michigan Radio comes “What is going on at EMU with the EAA?” I think the story is a little simplistic because while a part of this whole thing is about the unions– a lot of teachers’ unions in K-12 schools are refusing to take on student teachers because of the EAA’s lack of a union and a lot of relatively untrained “Teach for America” teachers– I think there are lots of other ways that the EAA is doing indirect damage to EMU students.

But there are two other things I thought I’d mention about this. First, both the radio blurb I heard and the article quotes EMU VP for Communications Walter Kraft, and on the radio, Kraft said that while there were some challenges in getting students into student teaching spots, all of those students did find a student teaching gig. Is that actually true?

The other thing is the article quotes Regent James Webb, one of the Snyder appointees who voted to keep EMU in this arrangement. He sounds pretty defensive to me here:

“I’ve met Governor Snyder to shake hands I think three times, he wouldn’t know me from Joe Blow. I did it because it’s the right thing to do,” says regent James Webb, who was appointed by Snyder in 2012 and says he wasn’t on the board when the EAA contract was first written.

“You can’t leave those schools like they are right now, and the only way the [EAA] students have any hope of moving on is to get an education. If we don’t fix this, I don’t know what their future is. They don’t have much of one. If we don’t do this, we go back to the system we had before. I won’t quibble that we haven’t seen the results we want coming out of this, but we’ve got a new chancellor in there and high hopes from our perspective,” Webb said.

Webb says the resolution passed by the Regents on Friday is just an agreement to give the EAA one more year to turn things around.

“If we don’t see progress, then we’ll have to revisit our thoughts.”

As for what EMU education students are dealing with, Webb says: “It makes it inconvenient. All students were placed, maybe not in the district they wanted. But that wasn’t our decision, that was the teacher’s decision. They took it out on the kids. You talk about bullying, and I wonder if that doesn’t qualifying as bullying.”

So, let me get this straight:

You’re one of the regents who completely ignored the institution’s students, faculty, and president in the sense that all of these folks were saying EMU ought to get out of the EAA. There has been absolutely zero evidence that the EAA has made anything even remotely like “progress,” and there is no indication that things are getting better. And even though you are in a position where you could have done something to get us out of this EAA mess, you vote for it and you blame the problems students in the College of Ed are having not on the board’s determination to stay on this sinking ship but on other school districts, other teacher’s decisions?

That’s weak sauce, my friend.

“EAA Battle is a Fight for the Soul of EMU”

Friend of the site/friend of EMU, Jeremy Rosenberg over at Eagle Totem, has a long and interesting post here, “EAA Battle is a Fight for the Soul of EMU.” As he says:

Make no mistake, fellow EMU enthusiasts, what is taking place is a battle of political patronage versus the will of the students, faculty, alumni, and anyone who cares about this institution. The battle of the EAA has taken place on many fronts. More knowledgable voices than mine have articulated the reasons why this affiliation has to end.

He goes on to talk about the incoming (I presume?) chair of the Board of Regents, Michael Morris.  (As the Echo reported, current BoR chair Francine Parker, along with Floyd Clack, are done with the Board– though I don’t know if it is so much about retirement as it is term limits.) Rosenberg goes into some detail about Morris, who seems to be the definition of a rich guy who got his appointment as a political favor from Snyder. Rosenberg goes so far as to compare him to Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, though to be fair, Morris had been on the Board before.

And I like his impassioned plea at the end here:

What can we do? We can continue to do what we have been doing. We can let the Board know, in the clearest language possible, that we do not accept their rule by fiat. We do not accept that we are to bend to the whims of this oligarchic junta. These six people, these lickspittles of Governor Snyder and his anti-education cabal. Teaching is sacred at EMU.

The oligarchs and the Board of Regents would like us to believe that we have no power, that we are to sit on our hands for a year while education at EMU exsanguinates right before our eyes.

But we do have power, EMU Nation. Maybe together, with a University President determined to fight for the interests of her citizens, a charismatic Student Body President, a faculty already knee deep in the battle themselves, a motivated and active student body, and one handsome blogger, we can unite to hold the Regents accountable.

The Board of Regents will slither into their holiday holes and ignore the outrage, certain it will die down, certain it will go away. But we will not let this go. We will think on what needs to be done over the winter break. We will come back in January.

This isn’t over.


“Letter to the Editor: EMU Faculty Senate’s response to Regent Stapleton”

From the Echo comes “Letter to the Editor: EMU Faculty Senate’s response to Regent Stapleton.” It’s a letter from EMU Faculty Senate President Sandy Norton and Vice President Perry Francis taking on some of the less than kind comments Board of Regent member Jim Stapleton. Here’s a quote from the beginning:

In his statement, Regent Stapleton, noted that he was “disappointed in our Governing Board at the time this agreement was reached for not insisting on better communication with our University community about the decision we collectively made to enter into this arrangement.” He goes on very cogently and admirably to take much personal responsibility for the Board of Regents’ actions.

Later in the statement, Regent Stapleton also points to his disappointment “in our Faculty community who, irrespective of the fact our Administration and Board could have and, should have done more to communicate our decision to partake in this venture, in my judgment have never collectively held an open mind to our involvement.”

And then the letter goes on to point out the many ways in which Stapleton is wrong, that the EAA didn’t want to work with EMU faculty despite the faculty efforts, etc.  This seems similar to statements that Stapleton has made in the past, that everyone shares some of the blame, which I think is clearly bullshit. That’s someone who drives a car off of a bridge and into the lake blaming the passengers in the back seat.

In other BoR meeting news

But I will say this: not everything the Board of Regents did yesterday was a politically motivated hack job not at all in the interests of the university.

First off, EMU will go smokeless beginning July 1. There’s an interesting “FAQ” here; just to quote from a couple of things:

Q. Can I smoke or use tobacco in my personal vehicle when it’s parked on campus, or when I’m driving on campus?

A. Smoking/use of tobacco is not permitted in your personal vehicle, whether parked or in motion, if the vehicle is located on university-owned, operated, or leased property as defined by the policy.

Q. Does EMU have the right to tell me I can’t use tobacco products on campus property?

A. The University has a responsibility to establish policies that positively affect the health and well being of the campus community. It’s understood that the use of tobacco is a personal choice and is legal for adults to purchase and consume. The tobacco-free policy does not prohibit tobacco use; it simply establishes where use can and cannot occur.

Q. How will the policy be enforced?

A. The guiding principle of enforcement will be respect for all. This crucial approach needs to include tobacco users and non-users, and must encompass respect for the policy the University has adopted. We hope this principle will help guide everyone as the University transitions to a healthier, tobacco-free environment.

From review of other campuses, best practice suggests that these changes in culture can happen with everyone working to be respectful of the policy. Repeated violation of the policy will be addressed through the Student Conduct and Community Standards Office for students and Human Resources for employees. Compliance can be achieved through consistent messaging, policy education and the provision of cessation programs.

One question that occurs to me now is can students smoke in the dorms? I think that smoking in the dorms might already be against the rules, but I don’t know.

Second, campus cops are going to start wearing body cameras, which I suspect is going to become the norm everywhere within a few years.

“Chaos erupts as EMU votes to remain with EAA”

There was a story about this EAA vote on the Detroit ABC affiliate, WXYZ (channel 7), “Chaos erupts as EMU votes to remain with EAA.”  Be warned that video will start up when you click that link, but it’s worth watching.

I’ll say this: one thing this video suggests to me that maybe the most effective/ongoing way for the EMU community to protest this is to disrupt the Board of Regents meetings. What I’m saying is if every meeting from now until we were done with the EAA included a crowd of people shouting “down with the EAA” and having a die-in and such, I’m pretty sure that’d keep this story in the media. Oh, the BoR would still probably toss everyone out and still have meetings, but it’d make a point.

(Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’ve never even been to one of these meetings…).

And I guess I’m going to have to set up an EAA category on the site because we’re going to be talking about this stupid thing for a year.

“Protesters disrupt EMU regents meeting after vote to keep ties to Education Achievement Authority”

From mLive comes “Protesters disrupt EMU regents meeting after vote to keep ties to Education Achievement Authority.” I’d embed the video here but I can’t. I’m sure more details will emerge, but apparently, the BoR has voted to keep EMU’s association with the EAA, this despite all the various protests, petitions, and articles, and also despite EMU President Susan Martin saying it was time to cut ties.

All I can think now is are you shitting me?!?

As a slight update, here’s a link to an mLive article about all of this.

“Petition to terminate EAA agreement”

This just in from Steve Wellinski:

Dear Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents, Dr. Susan Martin, President, and Dr. Kim Schatzel, Provost and Executive Vice President

On October 23, 2013, The COE council sent a letter to the Board of Regents requesting the university’s participation in the inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority be severed immediately.   The undersign support the following version of that request.  Attached is a list of2,189 individuals who have added their names to this petition, as well as additional comments written by the petition signers themselves.

The leadership of Eastern Michigan University (EMU) entered into an inter-local agreement that created the Education Achievement Authority (EAA). They did so in a manner that fostered assumptions that members of the education faculty at Eastern were actively engaged in the EAA — misleading the citizens of the state; the professional educators of the state; AND the students of the University. The fact is EMU faculty were not invited to give input into such an arrangement or asked for our expertise as researchers and professionals in the complex and varied aspects of education (school administration, teacher development, and student achievement) as the EAA was established. To date, the faculty have been excluded from any direct participation in the creation or implementation of its policies, operating procedures, professional development, curricula or pedagogical practices, many of which the faculty find questionable at best.

Furthermore, the faculty find the undermining of democratic processes represented in the creation of a district outside the purview of public decision-making and oversight to be in direct conflict with this university’s mission and our legacy as a champion of public education. This violation of our principles is now beginning to affect our historically strong relationship with local schools.

Thus, the faculty find Eastern Michigan University’s participation in the Education Achievement Authority unacceptable. These negative impacts on our reputation, our local relationships, our students and programs, the clear effect on enrollments and thus revenue to the university are a repudiation of Eastern Michigan University’s legacy as a champion of public education and a leader in the preparation of educational professionals. The faculty implores you to remedy this situation as quickly as possible by unanimously voting to withdraw from the contract creating the Education Achievement Authority.

Respectfully submitted

Steve Wellinski


“Eastern Michigan University explores banning all tobacco use on campus”

I heard this story on WEMU this morning, but here’s a link to the mLive version: “Eastern Michigan University explores banning all tobacco use on campus.” Basically, the Board of Regents is apparently going to discuss (vote on?) a tobacco policy that would ban all tobacco products anywhere on campus, including in people’s cars. The WEMU story said this was the policy at places like Western and Central, and it has the advantage of being easier to enforce, certainly more than the 25 foot from a door thing.

I’m all for it. I hope it happens.

More EAA news for today’s BoR meeting

The Detroit News is reporting “EMU board could cut ties to Michigan’s EAA.” Here’s a quote:

At a meeting Friday afternoon, the EMU Board of Regents will consider whether to sever its relationship with the EAA — set up by Snyder in 2011 to turn around the academic performance of students in the state’s lowest performing schools to prepare them for the workforce and global competition.

But the initiative has been controversial. EMU students, faculty and staff, along with faculty from other universities and Detroit educators, are expected to be out in force, demonstrating before the 1:30 p.m. meeting.

It is the last meeting of the year, and regents must give notice by Dec. 30 if they intend to withdraw from the interlocal agreement, according to the contract.

Steve Wellinski, an EMU associate education professor and leader among those demanding that the university end its partnership with the EAA, said he’s confident the regents will exit the contract.


Fingers crossed that Steve is right!