Eastern Michigan University names new president, Dr. James M. Smith

Dr. James M. Smith
Dr. James M. Smith

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Dr. James M. Smith has been named Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) newest president. 

The EMU Board of Regents elected Smith as the university’s 23rd president on Friday. He will assume duties July 1, 2016. 

The university said a national search process for a new president began in April 2015 after former president Dr. Susan Martin announced her resignation last March. Martin had served as EMU's president since 2008. 

Smith has served as president of Northern State University (NSU) in Aberdeen, South Dakota since June 2009. 

“This is a special moment in the 167-year history of our University, as we elect Dr. Smith as our 23rd president,” said Board of Regents Chairman Mike Morris. “He brings extraordinary energy, vision and experience to this role. I join the entire Eastern Michigan community – students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters – in welcoming Dr. Smith to a special place that emphasizes teaching, student-faculty engagement, and student success.”

Here is an overview of Smith's career (courtesy of EMU): 

  • Dr. James M. Smith is serving as the president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, having held the post since June 2009.
  • Building upon the tradition of excellence in international education at NSU, he collaborated with the University of Jinan, in Jinan, China, to develop the first and only Confucius Institute in the Dakotas. The Confucius Institute has a specific three-part focus dedicated to the teaching of Chinese language, culture, and business practices. In addition to the traditional start-up funding provided, he was able to gain local and regional support of nearly $500,000 to launch the initiative.
  • In 2012, under Smith’s leadership, NSU received a $15 million gift from the estate of Millicent Atkins, the largest gift in the university’s history.
  • Prior to accepting the presidency at NSU, he served beginning in 2006 as Vice President for Economic Development at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. In that capacity, he helped forge relationships between public higher education and economic development, and helped lead the university through strategic planning while maintaining academic excellence.
  • Prior to his vice presidential appointment at BGSU, he served as dean of BGSU Firelands, the only regional campus of the university.
  • Prior to joining the senior administrative team at BGSU, served as dean of the School of Education at Indiana University South Bend. As dean, he was charged with leading the largest degree-granting unit on the South Bend campus – nearly 1,300 majors and 100 faculty members were part of the School of Education.
  • Has also served in administrative capacities at West Texas A&M University and Butler University in Indianapolis. In 1994, he received the West Texas A&M University Distinguished Teaching Award, presented as a result of a grass-roots campaign undertaken by his graduate students from the main university campus in Canyon, Texas, and the extension center in Amarillo, Texas.
  • Prior to entering university administration, he was a public school administrator and teacher in central and southwestern Ohio. His research and teaching interests have focused on school reform, school reorganization, and the negative impacts of high stakes testing for at-risk youth.
  • He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as well as a bachelor’s of science from Miami. He earned his master’s of science from Xavier University in Cincinnati.

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