First Installment Of EMU President's 'Listening Sessions' Series Starts Today

Dec 1, 2016

EMU President James Smith
Credit Jorge Avellan / 89.1 WEMU

Eastern Michigan University president James Smith will kick off a series of "Listening Sessions" today.  The goal is to focus on a variety of short and long term issues for the university.

The sessions were planned before racist graffiti was discovered on campus.  However, Eastern Michigan University president James Smith expects those incidents to attract more people to the events.

"The listening sessions are really designed to look at our strategic plan--how do we make it as current as possible, as robust as possible, and as inclusive as possible."

The strategic plan includes four themes: Student Engagement, High Performing Academic Programs, Institutional Effectiveness, as well as Service and Engagement. 

Discussion of the recent racist vandalism is welcome and encouraged at the sessions that will conclude in early February.

"We want to certainly have some wrap-up ideas as we get into the next semester.  Will it be middle February, early March?  I'm not quite clear yet.  But, I'll have a lot of clarity when people leave in April, so that we can start planning for the next year for what are our tangibles, what are our deliverables out of all this."

The FBI is helping investigate who wrote the racist messages on several campus buildings since September.  President Smith says polygraph tests have been performed as part of the investigation.

"Based on cell phone activity, you are in a certain place at a certain time.  Why were you there?  Were you indeed there?  Some people could say someone else had my phone.  I don't know all the details, but just to get a true story.  And I believe all the people who've been asked have agreed."

The first Listening Session will take place later this morning at 11 AM at the College of Technology

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him