University Presidents

A biographical guide the principals and presidents of Eastern Michigan University (previously named the Michigan State Normal School, Michigan State Normal College, and Eastern Michigan College)

Susan W. Martin, 2008-2015

Dr. Susan W. Martin was raised in Croswell, Michigan where she attended classes at a one-room schoolhouse. She recevied her B.S. in 1971 from Central Michigan University, her MBA in 1976 and Ph.D. in 1988 from Michigan State University. She was a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority at Central Michigan University from 1967-71.

Martin began her career as a secretary in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Texas at Austin. After moving back to Michigan, she served at Michigan State University as well as in government as Assistant Auditor General, Office of the Auditor General, Deputy State Treasurer, Bureau of Local Government Services and Commissioner of Revenue.

When Martin returned to high education it was to work at Grand Valley State University as the Master of Science in Taxation Program Coordinator, Director of the International Business Programs, Chair of the Accounting and Taxation Department, Professor of Accounting and Taxation, Assistant & Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, Special Assistant to the Provost, and Executive Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Martin served as provost and vice-chancellor of academic affairs at the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 2006-08.

Dr. Martin has served as assistant auditor general for the State of Michigan, deputy state treasurer for the Bureau of Local Government Services for Michigan, Commissioner of revenue, chair fo the Michigan State Hospital Finance Authority for 21 years, and ex-officio representative for Governer Jennifer GAnholm on the Detroit Medical Center Financial Emergency Task Force in 2003-2004. At the Federal level, she served on the Internal Revenue Service Commissioners Advisory Council from 2002-2004 and the Electronic Tax Administration Advisory Council from 1998-2000.

Dr. Martin is a member of the boards of directors of the Michigan Educational Trust as well as Ann Arbor SPARK, a non-profit organization that seeks to bring businesses to the Ann Arbor area. Dr. Martin received her Ph.D. in business/accounting and MBA from Michigan State University, and earned a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University. She is married to Dr. Larry Martin, professor of economics at Michigan State University, and has three children and three grandchildren.

Martin joined Eastern Michigan University as its 22nd and first female President in 2008. She served the University for seven years and in March of 2015 announced that she 'would be moving on to the next chapter of her life.' Her last date of service to the University in the capacity of President was July 7, 2015. Among her accomplishments:

  • Strong enrollment growth for four consecutive years, including the Honors College, which nearly doubled in enrollment since 2011, and which enrolled its largest freshman class ever in the fall of 2014.

  • Raised the academic profile of Eastern's student body, with the average high school GPA of entering freshman rising from 3.05 in the fall of 2010 to 3.27 for the fall 2014 class. The average ACT score has also risen, from 21.1 in 2011 to 22.25 for the entering fall 2014 freshman class.

  • Increased economic support of students, with financial aid growth of 100 percent over last seven years, to a total of $43.8 million for FY15.

  • Launch of new academic programs in high-demand areas, such as the Physician Assistant Program, which began in spring 2014.

  • Tuition restraint: Eastern has the lowest dollar tuition increase in the state of Michigan over the last six years. This effort included the 0-0-0 initiative of holding tuition and fees, room and board to a 0% increase for academic year 2010-2011.

  • Improvements in student academic support services, such as an increase in advising staff, and opening of the Francine Parker Advising Center, a special drop-in facility in the EMU Student Center to complement the main advising office in McKenny Hall.

  • Enhanced safety and security, including construction and opening of new headquarters for the EMU Department of Public Safety; addition of new police officers; installation of more than 500 surveillance cameras and increased campus lighting; expanded police patrols in areas surrounding campus; and increased collaboration with Ypsilanti Police and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department.

  • Successful completion of the $50 million "Invest. Inspire." comprehensive fundraising campaign.

  • Leadership in EMU's strategic planning process.

  • Groundbreaking, construction and opening of the $90 million Science Complex, the largest capital project in EMU's history

  • The $42 million renovation of Pray-Harrold, the University's largest classroom building.

Kim Schatzel, July - December 2015

Kim Schatzel, who received a doctorate in business administration from Michigan State University - Eli Broad Graduate School of Management in 1999, was serving as the provost and executive vice president of academic and student affairs at Eastern Michigan University when she was appointed by the Board of Regents in April of 2015 to serve as interim president while EMU conducted a national search for the successor to President Susan Martin.

Schatzel began her role following President Martin’s final day of July 7, 2015 while continuing to serve at the provost and executive vice president of academic and student affairs. Schatzel, whose background includes extensive academic leadership and corporate business experience, served as dean of the College of Business and as an assistant professor of marketing at University of Michigan-Dearborn before coming to EMU.

Schatzel left the University to serve at the President of Towson University, located in Baltimore County, Maryland. Her new position was effective January 25, 2016. 

Donald M. Loppnow, December 2015 - June 2016

Donald Loppnow graduated from Madison East High School and earned a bachelor's degree in social work and psychology from the University of Wisconsin Madison, a master of social work degree from Washington university in St. Louis, Missouri, and a doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Michigan. He joined Eastern Michigan University in 1974 as a lecturer in the social work program and moved through leadership positions to become the first department head of social work in 1981; associate vice president for Extended Learning in 1996; assistant to the president for strategic planning in 2000; senior executive for strategic planning in 2002; was appointed acting president at the August 2004 Board of Regents meeting a position he held for two weeks between the firing of Kirkpatrick and arrival of interim President Craig D. Willis; Willis appointed Loppnow interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in September of 2004 a position he was officially appointed to in 2006 by then President Fallon.

After the firing of President John Fallon; Loppnow was appointed by the Board of Regents to the position of executive vice president. In the absence of a president, the executive vice president is the university's senior administrative official. Loppnow was supported by an executive council created by the Board of Regents to advise and assist. Loppnow returned to his role as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in 2008 when President Susan Martin was hired to lead EMU. He returned to the School of Social Work faculty in 2009, the same year the Don "Ace" Loppnow Scholarship became fully endowed. Loppnow had retired from faculty in 2014 and returned to the University to serve once again in the capacity of Interim University President starting at the end of the Fall Semester, 2015. 


James M. Smith, Ph.D., July 2016 - Present

Dr. James M. Smith began his duties as President of Eastern Michigan University July 1, 2016.

Before coming to EMU, Smith served as president of Northern State University (NSU) in Aberdeen, South Dakota since June 2009. Smith, grew up near Columbus, Ohio, in Washington Court House, and knew early on he wanted to be a teacher. He always had admired teachers and enjoyed school. He became an elementary and middle school teacher after earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education, from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 1979. He would go on to earn a Master of Education, Educational Administration, from Xavier University in Cincinnati and a Doctor of Philosophy, Educational Leadership, from Miami University.

Over the next 28 years, he served as an elementary school principal, a teaching fellow and assistant professor at Miami, director of the Experiential Program for Preparing School Principals at Butler University in Indianapolis, and director of the Educational Leadership Program and coordinator of doctoral studies at West Texas A&M University. Smith was also vice president for Economic Development at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio, before heading to NSU.

Smith is married to Dr. Connie Ruhl-Smith who has worked as a teacher, author and administrator, and has done extensive work in student retention and student academic support.