YPSILANTI (Talk Radio 1270) A member of the presidential search committee said if he knew then what he knows now, Eastern Michigan University would have gotten a different recommendation for president.
Eric Brown, an Eastern Michigan University alumnus and member of the president search committee, said he found out Tuesday along with the rest of the public that EMU President Sue Martin was arrested for driving under the influence in 2005.
It came out after the Board of Regents’ stern letter to Martin rebuking her for alcohol-related offenses, including an apparently drunken confrontation during an alumni event, was released to the public through a Freedom of Information request from the Detroit Free Press. Martin, hired in 2008, is the first woman at the helm of the university; she’s paid $300,000 a year.
“In addition to the conduct in Washington, D.C. and the prior incidents discussed with you, we are concerned that your misuse of alcohol could result in liability to the University in the use of your University supplied vehicle. If you are drinking, you must not drive any University supplied vehicle,” says the letter written in May.
Brown said if the search committee had been aware of Martin’s past issues involving alcohol, the committee may have made a different recommendation. The decision to hire Martin was made by the Board of Regents, which makes the final decision based on the search committee’s recommendation.
Brown believes the Regents were informed about the DUI before she was hired, and kept it under wraps and away from both the public and the search committee.
“I think that’s something that should have been forthcoming,” he said.
So, did the search committee do a background check?
“That was not asked, no,” Brown said about Martin’s DUI. “I think that hindsight is always 20/20 and I would definitely say the truth was concealed. Had I known that I would not have moved forward to recommend her as president of the university.”
“I think that’s something that should have been known … When you have that type if infraction, that’s the time you got caught, I doubt very seriously that was the first time she just happened to drive after drinking.”
Martin took over EMU after the previous president was fired after a federal report said he “grossly downplayed” a murder on campus.
“We just seem to have this curse in regards to presidents,” Brown said.
Since Martin took over, she’s been credited with bringing accolades to the university and oversaw the groundbreaking, construction and opening of the $90 million Science Complex, the largest capital project in EMU’s history. She’s also overseen the near-completion of the $50 million “Invest. Inspire.” comprehensive fundraising campaign.
Many are standing behind her.
“What I’m finding disappointing is the amount of support (Martin has gotten),” Brown said. “You can’t let your adoration of a person be superceded by the fact something was not brought forward at the time,” Brown said.