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Posted on Sat, May 5, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

EMU: Dismissal email sent to students by mistake caused 'undue alarm'

By Julie Baker

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Walter Kraft

Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin issued an apology to students after a mass email was mistakenly sent Friday informing students they were dismissed from the university.


Susan Martin

Chris Asadian |

The message says that due to academic performance in the winter 2012 semester, the student has been dismissed from the university and all further enrollment will be canceled.

It was sent en masse from the email of Associate Director of Academic Advising Molly D. Weir. The university says it is investigating how it happened. It was not immediately clear how many students received the email, although it was widespread and included some recent graduates.

Martin's emailed statement addressed to students, faculty and staff reads:

"I deeply apologize for the incorrect email many of our students received this evening indicating they were dismissed from the University. This message was a terrible mistake and I regret the undue alarm and concern it caused. I care deeply about student success and for Eastern to send an alarming message to you indicating you were dismissed is an inexcusable mistake that I personally regret. We will investigate and determine why this happened and make sure it never happens again. Please disregard the message or any letter you may receive. Again, my heartfelt apology for this error."

Vice President of Communications Walter Kraft said in an email to students, faculty and staff Saturday afternoon that the investigation is under way and has already concluded that the email was not a breach of security or an incident of hacking.

He said EMU has confirmed that this was an operational error in the notification system from Academic Advising to students who are subject to dismissal for academic performance. EMU has confirmed that Academic Advising prepared the message Friday night in order to notify about 100 students of academic performance issues. For some reason, which remains under investigation, the message went out to the entire student body, Kraft said in the email.

"An outside company that we contract with for this notification process, GradesFirst, sent the dismissal message to the entire student body instead of the file of 100 or so students who were supposed to receive it," he said. "GradesFirst has offered an apology for its role in this matter."

Kraft added EMU will continue to investigate to determine exactly what went wrong and take whatever steps are necessary to make sure it never happens again.

Text from email sent to students in error is below:

As a result of your Winter 2012 academic performance, you have been dismissed from Eastern Michigan University. This dismissal action is in accordance with policies described in the University’s undergraduate catalog (available online at EMU’s Homepage, which is, under the Student link). Any enrollment for upcoming terms will be cancelled and you will be ineligible to register for classes.

Unless action is taken to reverse this dismissal, you will not be eligible to resume coursework at EMU until Summer 2013 at the earliest. To return to school at that time, you will need to apply for readmission by contacting the appropriate office. If this dismissal followed a previous dismissal and readmission, it is final and readmission is not possible.

Your formal written notice will be mailed to your home address that we have on file in the student system. If you want to begin an appeal process prior to receipt of your letter, you can read the instructions at the following link and begin preparing your appeal:

Note that you must provide documentation for your extenuating circumstances. If you wish to appeal, you must follow the directions for the appeal process - note that the deadline is 5 p.m. on Friday, May 18, 2012 in 200 McKenny.


Molly D. Weir
Associate Director

EMU noted that students can find their correct academic standing by reviewing their academic transcript at



Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

How can this happen at an "Institution of Higher Learning?" now i'll bet the fix is in.Everybody is playing CYA.

Geoff Larcom

Tue, May 8, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Correction/clarification note: Eastern Michigan University's investigation has found that the incorrect email sent last week by a third-party provider regarding students' academic standing at EMU went to approximately 7,700 students and not to the entire student body, as was previously reported in an update to campus. EMU has about 23,500 students, including both graduate and undergraduate levels.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 11:50 p.m.

the point is "mouthpiece" a serious error was made here.whether 1,100,1000,7,000 or 23,000 were involved isn't really the point.

Ron Granger

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Note that EMU has disclosed the email and contact info of all students to that third party. Who else have they shared student info with?


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

While I continue my assertion that this is not that big a deal and those professing to be impacted by this minor slight are drama queens, especially if you are young and do not know any better, I will state that situations like this allow for the many haters to bring forth their downright hostility towards EMU. Unless you attend/attended, have immediate family attending, or work for or with with the school, your comments amount to nothing more than sports talk radio folly, interjecting an uninformed opinion into the mix for your own insecure reasons. People who have nothing to do with EMU really seem to go out of their way to bash EMU - I find that odd. And spare me the "tax payers" argument.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

So nobody gets to have an opinion if it doesn't agree with yours huh?A serious error was made here bud.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 1:31 p.m.

I agree, lumberg. My daughter has been at EMU for 3 years, and received an email Friday ~ 5:50 PM. Grades have been posted, and she received all A's, as always. She thought it was a mistake, and thought to herself, I'll check into it with EMU on Monday. She said there were a few "drama queens" on Facebook saying they had cried for hours, and were so upset about being dismissed from EMU. Like my student said, they have good GPA's, but no common sense, to recognize a mistake. My spouse received an MBA in Finance from EMU several years ago. We all thought it was just an amusing, but obvious mistake; she received several emails apologizing for the error. I also find it odd that people seem to go out of their way bash EMU. There will always be haters...of anything and everything.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

EMU is renowned for its degrees in Education. My spouse went through the Bachelor degree program and it was very high level, very demanding. Concurrently, I dealt with EMU's administrative side, for billing and what not, and experienced significant incompetence. It is not surprising to me that something like this would happen to the administration there, but I too agree one should not condemn the entirety of the institution, nor condemn its academic output of highly trained teachers.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

I'm positive its more the teaching profession in general being badmouthed than it is teachers that have earned degrees at EMU. You can thank the MEA for that.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

well we know how the residents of michigan feel about teachers now a days heck lawyers were never badmouthed so much and treated so bad! kinda sad that an education at EMU is treated as owning a yugo by so many what a shame.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Don't you think it's sad that the good programs (Education) are overseen by such incompetents in central admin? The taxpayers pay these people's salaries. As long as the top people stay in place, nothing changes.

Angry Moderate

Sun, May 6, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

Sorry, but an education major at EMU is anything but "high level."


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

I am very lucky to have had a good friend who had his own telecommunications / computer systems business teach me how to use a desktop computer. His degree is from MIT. But because he had huge experience in the practical reality of mass electronic communication, he had a very pragmatic view of such "blunders." He would always say: "Computers are stupid... and deadly." He drew the parallel between computers and guns: once you pull the trigger (on a computer operation like sending emails): the deed is done. Of course he means: be sure of your aim and intention before you pull the trigger. Also consider: such computer operations are part of things like electronic paychecks, IRS computer operations and stock market buy and sell orders. We are not walking on thin ice or walking on eggs: we are all walking on delicate computer microchips.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

I look forward to the follow up story regarding the sackings at EMU that occur as fallout from this screw up.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

A simple case of incompetency at too high a level!


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

It never ceases to amaze me how 1. never misses an opportunity to make things look as bad as possible, blowing them out of all proportion and 2. How many, many sad people are out there, who use the resulting stories to vent their spleen about nearly everything in hatefilled ways. EMU isn't a top flight university, that's for sure but since my child started attending there via the Early College Alliance program, I've been positively surprised by the overall quality and rigor of the instruction in freshman/sophomore math and science classes (liberal arts standards seem to be a bit lower), and the general level of engagement of the administration in working to constantly improve the program while keeping it affordable relative to other four year programs. Let's not pile on to an unfortunate, but not unheard of error associated with mass emailing, and which was rapidly addressed and for which apologies were issued.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 6:33 p.m. loves to stir the POT with there hidden republican agenda.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Yes, this is being blown out of proportion. If your child received this email and believed it, he/she must be performing poorly. If that's the case, a little "scare" would be a good thing, for motivational purposes.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.

"never misses an opportunity to make things look as bad as possible, blowing them out of all proportion" You've git to be kidding! Out of proportion? Did your kid get an email?

Geoff Larcom

Sun, May 6, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Along the lines of what is said above, it's important to note the EMU seeks to be very proactive and transparent in its communications. Thus, we readily convey details to the media about unfortunate incidents such as this, after first informing the affected EMU community. That can generate stories, comments and coverage that might not otherwise result, but it also shows a sincere concern for staff and students. Note: Geoff Larcom is executive director for media relations at EMU. He worked for The Ann Arbor News for 25 years as an editor, columnist and a reporter covering higher education.


Mon, May 7, 2012 : 3:52 a.m.

Hey Geoff, I'm wondering if I can get some kind of reimbursement for the nice dinner this email ruined? Honestly embarrassed by this school. Between the daily crime alerts, parking problems, incompetent and rude staff, problems with HigherOne accounts being drained, and now this, I'm really questioning my choice of school. And, all of this in the one semester that I've been attending? Impressive.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

It took the murder cover-up to motivate this new found transparency...we appreciate it nonetheless.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

Thank you for the transparency. Most of us really do appreciate it. And President Martin's apology seemed quite heartfelt.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

Am I the only one that thinks this is not a big deal? An email went out that should not have - OK - apologies were given and they said it is not a security breach - yes this is sloppy but things happen --- fix it and move on --are we that senstive about things that we cant shrug this off and laugh at it? There is no harm, minus a few anxious moments for some ... jeez ... deal with it. For those bashing EMU for this, similar things have happened with major corporations and political groups so EMU is not alone. Somehow, people survived.

EMU Prof

Sat, May 5, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

I'd suggest alternate headlines: "Computer Error Reveals Surprising Number of Fragile Drama Queens Among EMU Student Population;" or, "Unremarkable Computer Glitch Leads to Head Shaking, Muttering about "damn EMU" in Washtenaw County;" Or, "Wrong Students Receive Dismissal Email; Get Message of Reassurance from University President on a Friday Night.'"

EMU Prof

Mon, May 7, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

Ypsi Listener--ah yes, I hadn't thought of that. The thing is, I discovered this mistaken email at the same time and in the same way as most of the students--by a "meme" posted on the EMU Memes Facebook page (a great page with lots of clever stuff, by the way.). Go check it out and you'll see exactly what I mean. And indeed, I'm bewildered by the fact that so many students with good GPAs panicked. (And many did; see above mentioned Facebook page). How could they not have known it was a mistake. Well, the latest update to's web page has given me a new headline. "Story about Larceny Ring Operating on UM Campus Draws Zero Comments." So.....I'm off to ponder that.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

"Computer Error Reveals Surprising Number of Fragile Drama Queens Among EMU Student Population;" Any student with an average GPA or above and some common sense would know better than to do anything drastic seeing this email. They would know it was either a mistake or prank and move on.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

Love it, EMU Prof, except the part about fragile drama queens. While I enjoyed the image, I don't think the article warrants it, since no students were interviewed for this piece. For all we know, the students dealt with it just fine, while the commenters here used it as another excuse to be "haters."


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:57 a.m.

I agree it would be less confusing and dramatic - but subjective none-the-less.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

All of you people condemning EMU are basically proving EMU guilty until proven innocent. This incident could have came from so many sources (internal or external) but blaming an entire institution for one unfortunate incident with no basis is deplorable. More than likely a very easy password allowed someone into this particular email account to wreak all of this havoc. As a computer technician in the Ann Arbor area I've seen the same thing with several UM elitist also. Chances are the same folks directing their hate at EMU have had it happen to them too.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 6:47 p.m.

"Why is a university sending an impersonal email to tell students they've been kicked out?" So whats a better method for dealing with adults (mostly commuting). Snail mail or simply send them to the principles office? I'd be willing to bet just UM has a similar system.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

Why is a university sending an impersonal email to tell students they've been kicked out? That's far more important than how this particular breach happened. Have you really seen UM dismiss its students by email? I think that's part of the outrage here - in addition to a system so flimsy that it can be breached, hacked, or misused that broadly!


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

Very true djacks24, SMTP (email) is not authentic nor guaranteed for delivery. It's not like the USPS which has checks to make sure /most/ postal mail is delivered and you can chose to have delivery notification. It's very easy to spoof e-mail messages. It's entirely possible that their third-party had a rogue employee or were hacked and the messages were sent via that way.

Geoff Larcom

Sat, May 5, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

FYI, the following email was sent to EMU students, faculty and staff this afternoon: To EMU Students, Faculty and Staff, First and foremost, we reiterate our sincere apologies for the email students received last night that indicated that due to academic issues they were in the process of being dismissed from Eastern. This was a terrible mistake and we know it caused undue concern for many. The purpose of this email is to update you on our investigation into the cause of the issue. The investigation is under way and we have not yet determined the exact cause, but there are some things we do know. First, this was not a matter of a security breach, hacking or anything of that sort. There was no inappropriate access to any records or student information. We have confirmed that this was an operational error in our notification system from Academic Advising to students who are subject to dismissal for academic performance. We also have confirmed that Academic Advising prepared the message last night in order to notify approximately 100 students of academic performance issues. For some reason, which remains under investigation, the message went out to the entire student body. An outside company that we contract with for this notification process, GradesFirst, sent the dismissal message to the entire student body instead of the file of 100 or so students who were supposed to receive it. GradesFirst has offered an apology for its role in this matter. Make no mistake about it, we consider this matter very serious and we take full responsibility. We will continue to investigate to determine exactly what went wrong and take whatever steps are necessary to make sure it never happens again. We will have additional updates as we learn more. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions or concerns. Sincerely, Walter Walter Kraft Vice President for Communications 102 Welch Hall Note: Geoff Larcom is director of media relations at EMU.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

Thanks Geoff for sharing information and data.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.

Geoff, does EMU really feel email is the appropriate medium to deliver a crushing blow like this to a student?? I think most of us feel this is an embarassment to the university much more for the lack of regard to feelings than technical defiecencies.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

"There was no inappropriate access to any records or student information." The entire EMU student body (23,000+) were academically dismissed via email and it should've only been 100.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.



Sat, May 5, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

Note this article has does NOT include the full text of the dismissal message we received last night. It was about twice as long as this. Interestingly, I called one of the contact phone numbers near the end of the message and was greeted with a voicemail system that says, "Hello, this is the Students With Disabilities Office at Eastern Michigan University."


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

Just sayin! Eastern is great place to get an education however mistakes are made sometimes. Just take a look at the Undergraduate Symposium. Few places put an emphasis on undergraduate research like EMU does. EMU was the first in the nation to design such a program.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

WOW - the incompetence of EMU continues to grow. I didn't think they could sink any lower. People don't let your kids to go school there. WCC is much better, just sayin'.


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

I didn't say EMU kids couldn't transfer to UM. Just said WCC kids could. You can have your opinion, but the facts bear out the quality of a WCC degree being competitive with an EMU degree.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

WCC isn't so much of a better choice and I know after earning lets say, at least 3 associate degrees from there. I found Eastern much more organized than WCC and my general ed classes to actually be college level compared to WCC, as WCC was structured chaos (mostly all part-time non doctoral instructors, parking was always a nightmare, spring/summer offerings were and continue to be a joke). But I chose to stay going to WCC for tech classes that I could enroll in without being enrolled in a degree program. Also, price was a factor. As far as the comment about WCC students transferring to UM, they can also transfer to EMU (both after meeting MACRO). But just like WCC grads can transfer to UM, so can EMU students (and are usually more easily accepted as they are taking college level courses (unlike many courses offered at WCC). Furthermore, EMU undergrads are easily accepted into UM graduate programs. Also I've seen plenty of UM undergrads decide to attend EMU for grad school. So that's a weak statement.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

Well said, Lola. Sadly, it's actually true that WCC is a better choice. WCC students transfer to UM in significant numbers, and go pretty much anywhere else they want.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

And if you want your child to get a bachelor degree? The course content and difficulty at WCC is very watered down.

Call Me Maybe

Sat, May 5, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

Approximately 7,000 EMU students received the "incorrect email" -- and it should've only been about 150. Nice work, EMU! We expect nothing but the worst from you!


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

waiting for teachers and Municipal workers to get thrown under this bus as well!


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

Be careful of who gets the real blame. The jury is still out who messed up.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

I only learned about this email from this article. Had I read the email when it was immediately sent, I would have felt light headed, especially since I have a 4.0 GPA. But another email was sent quickly to dismiss the previous one. Regardless, this needs to be investigated, this is unacceptable.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

The second email was not immediate, it was approximately 3 hours later. Plenty of time for suicides.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 5:48 p.m.

Is this a joke? Talk about sloppiness!!


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

What kind of school sends an E-MAIL from an ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR as a way of kicking people out in the first place? Really?! If they had professional procedures, something like this would be impossible. Such an unprofessional place, top to bottom (starting at the top!)


Wed, May 16, 2012 : 8:28 p.m.

Yes, actually, I do think human beings are worthy of being treated like HUMAN BEINGS, especially at times of distress. Would you want an E-MAIL from your doctor's secretary telling you that you have cancer? Look, people pay a lot of money to go to college. When that college kicks them out, a personal phone call is not too much to ask. And if they're kicking kids out by the hundreds at a time, then the college has some very serious problems.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

A bunch of "adults" coming and going as they please. Attending school at all different times of the day or evening, at multiple buildings on campus, at an extension site, or online. Did you expect sending them to the principles office would be easier?


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:51 a.m.

Most students request communication via things like e-mail, text, etc. Also, the state has asked universities to control costs, which this is one way to significantly reduce costs without impacting the academic teaching. I applaud their efforts to keep modern and use tools students use. The goal of communication is for the receiver to get the message - and using the medium that best allows for that is ideal. The student can then login to their account to validate (read two factor) their status.

Angry Moderate

Sat, May 5, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

How would you have colleges communicate with students in 2012? Print a letter on dead trees, pay someone to stuff envelopes, buy stamps, and hope the student gets it at a time when many people are moving for the summer? Or have someone spend hours calling 100 students on the phone, who will probably be mad and argumentative about getting kicked out?


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

So a letter is better?

Dog Guy

Sat, May 5, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Hey! Maybe the time I got a similar letter from U of M was a mistake.


Sat, May 5, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

Can you say "hackers" boys and girls? If that's true it's the work of someone who doesn't realizes the consequences of such a prank. This could cause suicides, or at the least cause mass panic attacks. I hope it ISN'T a prank, but if it is, shame!


Tue, May 8, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

Never attribute to malice what can be simply explained by incompetence.

Angry Moderate

Sun, May 6, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

Yeah, someone hacked a third party company just to mess with EMU students...or maybe somebody just clicked on the wrong mailing list.


Sun, May 6, 2012 : 1:49 a.m.

Yes, the article indicated they have initially ruled out a breach. While it still may be hackers, it may not be of the U's systems but possibly their SAAS (software as a service) messaging third-party.

Angry Moderate

Sat, May 5, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

Are we reading the same article, because it specifically said it was not a hacker?