Dear Members of the Central Michigan University Community,
Serving as Central Michigan University's 14th president these past eight years has been the most rewarding professional experience of my life. All of us — students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, friends, and corporate and community partners — have joined together with compassion and dedication to create academic excellence. Our efforts have created the experiences that prepare CMU students for careers, life and leadership roles across the state, nation and world.
This collective spirit has inspired me to serve CMU for more than 13 years. That said, I have decided it is time to step down from the presidency, which I will do on July 31, 2018. This announcement comes with confidence that CMU is in an incredible position of strength because of the determination and care with which all of you serve students.
I have done much soul-searching about the right time to make this transition — the right time for CMU, which will forever hold a special place in my and Elizabeth's hearts. The decision came closer as I realized there is no perfect time for leadership change, because a vibrant, successful university always will be pursuing major initiatives.
And then, just before Christmas, my first grandchild was born. I suspect my mind was made up the moment he wrapped his tiny fingers around mine.
> Trustees begin search for CMU's 15th president
As we think of these future generations, I am exceedingly proud of what we have accomplished together since 2010:
- We worked across all constituencies to design and adopt a strategic plan in 2012 and updated it in 2017, with imperatives to nurture student success, foster scholarly activity, and strengthen partnerships in Michigan and beyond.
- We formalized our commitment to shared governance and expanded communications.
- We increased the number of students receiving financial support — and the amount they receive — with an 87 percent increase in university-funded scholarships and financial aid. We also strategically managed our budget to put students first and had the lowest cumulative tuition increase among all Michigan public universities for the past eight years.
- We put strategic emphasis on enrollment management and student success after creating the Enrollment and Student Services division.
- We expanded the Sarah R. Opperman Leadership Institute and leadership experiences for all students, building their understanding of the unique impact they can have on others, regardless of title.
- We accelerated the growth of STEM, health care and business programs to meet student and employer demand, while embracing the liberal arts as vital for fulfillment in careers and life.
- We increased the number of online programs to serve students and employers.
- We launched the College of Medicine, graduated its first class last May, and achieved 100 percent residency placement for each of the first CMU-educated physicians.
- We opened the Biosciences Building in 2016, completing the largest construction project in CMU history.
- We built medical education facilities in Mount Pleasant and Saginaw, graduate student housing on campus, and a research facility on Denison Drive. We renovated and upgraded Anspach and Grawn halls and Park Library.
- We introduced the premier corporate partnerships program, starting last fall with Ford Motor Co. and Quicken Loans.
- We advanced pervasive branding through our bold maroon and gold and action C, with messaging that repeatedly conveys a personalized path to learning, real-world experiences, leadership opportunities and CMU's strong sense of community.
Together, we have tackled the tough work that many would have ignored. It would have been easier to sit back and let others find solutions, but that is not who we are at CMU. It is my hope that these efforts have cemented the value of One CMU and of continuous evolution.
Much important work will continue through the next six months as we:
- break ground on our new Center for Integrated Health Studies;
- complete our search for a chief diversity officer;
- make decisions on recommendations of the organizational review committees; and
- celebrate the public launch of the second and largest capital campaign in CMU history.
That last item is fueled by unprecedented momentum among alumni for supporting future generations. It heralds the greatness that is yet to come. Our campaign is two years ahead of schedule, thanks to generous alumni who have committed more million-dollar gifts in this 125th anniversary year of CMU than all previous seven-figure gifts combined.
Students, faculty, staff, trustees, alumni, friends and partners, I encourage you to act with innovation, determination and boldness as you continue to shape the Central Michigan University of the next 125 years. Thank you for your collaboration and dedication.
It has been a privilege to serve as your president. Mrs. Ross and I believe in you and in CMU.
With gratitude and respect,
George E. Ross, Ph.D.