Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents says President Susan Martin needs help for her alcohol consumption

Board says termination could result, Martin apologizes, says she is committed to university

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DETROIT - Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin has been asked to seek help for drinking by the university's Board of Regents.

In a letter dated from May, the board wrote Martin's behavior at an event in Washington D.C. the month before that "reflected poorly" on her status as the university's president and involved the "consumption of alcohol."

READ: Board's letter to Martin

The board cites other "prior incidents" as the source of their concern for her misuse of alcohol and potential liability for the university.

"Despite our concerns about your performance, we are concerned about you as a person. We are supportive of you seeking assistance from professionals through the Employee Assistance Program, the University's healthcare insurance or such other means as would provide you the support and counseling you may need," the letter states.

The board continues on by saying Martin "must deal with this issue immediately."

Finally, the board threatens termination if there are any more incidents.

Martin says she is deeply committed to EMU

In a written response to the board, Martin explains that she had lost her tempter with an alumni when their discussion turned to "a particularly sad time in Eastern's history."

READ: President Martin's response to Board

She said her spat with the alumni turned out to be a misunderstanding and that she had self-reported the incident to the board's chairman – also apologized to the board.

"I lead a very intense and highly visible life. I have a very demanding schedule with regular public appearances and speaking engagements. I live in a very public house that employees enter regularly and I often hear guests stay with us overnight," Martin wrote. "I could not perform these duties and handle the rigors of this position if I had a serious issue of any type."

Martin did not that she had a driving while impaired charge on her license from 2005, which she said the board knew about before they hired her.

Statements from Martin to EMU community

As your President starting my fifth year, I made a vow to never cover up or hide anything. 

In April, I had a disagreement with an alumni member following an alumni reception in Washington, D.C. about Eastern's past.  I lost my temper and made inappropriate remarks for which I apologized. I also reported this incident to the Chair of the Board of Regents and apologized for being "unpresidential."  As a result, the Board placed a formal reprimand in my personnel file and I have provided a statement in response. I made a mistake and I apologize to you for it. I have assured the Board – and want to assure you - that this will not occur again. I own the incident and have great confidence in the Board's judgment. Together, we have accomplished many positive initiatives and I look forward to continuing to work jointly on behalf of our students, faculty and staff.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the link below includes the letter from the Board and my response statement. It also includes a copy of my driving record, which includes an operating while impaired violation that occurred in 2005, and which the Board was fully aware of prior to hiring me as President. www.emich.edu/president/information.

The role of the President is extremely demanding and challenging and my conduct must always be a role model for our students 24/7.  I will always work as hard as I can to lift Eastern up and make it shine. I hold myself to a high standard and will always be up front and honest with you.  We have accomplished much together here at Eastern and I look forward to a bright future for this campus. In four years, we have increased enrollment, improved campus safety, improved retention, increased the number of graduates, invested $200 million in campus facilities, hired 120 faculty, increased financial aid significantly while holding tuition low, and completed the Invest Inspire campaign with $56 million.

I love Eastern and am deeply committed to its success.

Statement from Board of Regents Chair Roy Wilbanks

This was a matter the Regents addressed promptly and appropriately with full transparency. EMU will continue to focus on enhancing academic quality, increasing enrollment and increasing student credit hour production. We are also focusing and investing resources in campus renovations and increasing private support to the university. That has been and will continue to be the focus of the university. We will continue to move forward. And to that end, the chair is supportive of the president.

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