‘Michigan Matters’ Spotlight: EMU’s President Talks Race, Athletics & Talent

By CBS Detroit

Eastern Michigan University President James M. Smith appeared on “Michigan Matters” and talked about challenges and opportunities before his institution which is one of  15 public colleges and universities in the state.

Smith sat with “Michigan Matters” Senior Producer/Host Carol Cain in an exclusive conversation as he discussed revenue challenges.  Last spring he raised the possibility of  layoffs this fall. Smith shed more light on the financial  situation.

Smith also defended a controversial new $30 million sports facility  that has been approved by regents and himself that will serve as a practice facility for the football team and other things once built.

He added funds for it were coming from private donors and  would not impact the university’s bottom line.

EMU was among a handful of colleges featured in a scathing HBO’s “Real Sports” show two years ago  (before Smith’s tenure began) for its spending on athletics at a time students complain they cannot  keep up with rising costs of attending college.

Smith, who took over the helm of EMU 18 months ago, also discussed racial strife on his campus.  Last year, African American students were joined by others as they protested their treatment on campus.

Smith said he has been meeting with representatives of those African American students to address some of their 10-point concerns. He explains what has been done so far.

Then, Smith appeared on the round table with Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Robert Ficano, professor at Wayne County Community College, to talk about talent needs across the region.

Smith discussed several EMU programs they have launched to keep up with shifting demands of local employers.

All three leaders have been to China numerous times and also talked about why the Asian nation offer opportunities for southeast Michigan.

You can hear more by watching “Michigan Matters” 11:30 Sunday on CBS 62.

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