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Posted on Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 10:06 a.m.

EMU President Susan Martin will donate raise to campus alcohol education fund and get counseling

By Kellie Woodhouse

  • Related: EMU President Susan Martin on argument involving alcohol: 'I made a mistake... and I own' it
  • FULL TEXT: EMU Board of Regents letter to President Susan Martin and her response
  • Susan Martin controversy: EMU's former Huron logo sparked 'a little miscommunication,' alumnus says
  • Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin said she will follow the advice of the Board of Regents and receive counseling following an April argument with an alumnus after having consumed alcohol on an empty stomach.


    Susan Martin has been president of Eastern Michigan University since 2008.

    In a May letter, the board's executive committee scolded Martin for the argument and "other incidents" preceding the argument apparently involving the overconsumption of alcohol. The letter said Martin explained behavior she called "unpresidential" as resulting from drinking on an empty stomach.

    The board recommended counseling; said it was concerned about her "as a person" and the liability her actions could bring to the university; and threatened to fire her if another alcohol-related incident occurs.

    In an interview, Michael Ferens, the alumnus Martin argued with, told the argument was minor and over quickly.

    Martin told WJR host Paul Smith in a July 11 broadcast that she planned heed the board's advice and receive counseling.

    EMU Vice President of Communications Walter Kraft confirmed the WJR report and said Martin also plans to donate her 2012 raise to a campus alcohol educational fund.

    Martin made $295,000 in 2011, according to W-2 tax information obtained by This summer Martin is due for a $8,764 raise, which she will donate.

    “I did make a mistake, even though it was only one. I learned from it,” Martin told WJR, adding: “I also think it's important to have alcohol awareness on campus, I mean our students often make mistakes when they come to campus at age 18.”

    In an email to the EMU campus community, Martin disclosed a DWI citation from 2005. It is Martin's only alcohol-related citation on record, according to a Michigan court records search by

    Although she agreed to go to counseling and donate her raise, Martin maintains that she does not have a drinking problem and that another alcohol-related squabble will not occur during her time as president.

    "It will never recur," she said in a Tuesday interview with, explaining that she must be clear-headed to tackle the "very demanding and challenging" job of being EMU's leader.

    "I made a mistake in this incident and I own" it, she said.

    Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.

    This story has been corrected to reflect that Martin will not earn $309,915 this year, as reflected in the terms of her contract. Because Martin forwent last year's raise, she will earn a salary of $300,889, but will donate her $8,764 raise to the EMU's alcohol awareness education program.


    Steve McKeen

    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 1:53 p.m.

    The only mistake Dr. Martin made was taking a job where she had Roy Wilbanks as a boss.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

    For addicts and alcoholics the motivation to address the issue is often due to outside forces. Success of the intervention falls on the addicted individual, however. It is often more difficult for people who have a high professional or social "standing" to get help due to their high profile images and the stigma associated with addiction. If this helps her address her problem, then it will be the best thing that ever happened to her. Addiction doesn't discriminate, doesn't mean you are weak or bad. I wish her God speed and hope that she meets this challenge head on and is as successful in this as she has been in her profession.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

    There are troubling red flags here. There are indications this is not the first time this has happened. Ms. Martin blames the issue on "drinking on an empty stomach" and then "students make mistakes." Quite often, such statements of shifting blame are means of avoiding a more serious problem. Sadly, if this is true in Ms. Martin's case, being forced to attend counseling will likely do no good; if indeed there is a problem and she is in complete denial. Politically, her best move would have been to use as few words as possible in her comments and complying with the board without question or excuse. Had she done this, she would have looked more "guilty" to people who are ignorant of addiction and treatment, but she would have preserved her dignity to those of us who "know better."

    Elmer White

    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 3:28 a.m.

    I have experience counseling alcoholics. Reflecting upon all the information available on the InterNet, there is a serious alcohol problem here. IF she gets into a 12 Step Program and ceases her denial, there MAY be HOPE. Currently, July 11 ,2012, she remains in denial. Although the EMU website does not identify the number of students enrolled, surely it is in the tens of thousands. Further, although the EMU website does not identify the budget, surely it is in the hundreds of millions of Michigan taxpayer dollars. It appears the Board of Regents are acting in a prudent manner and are determined to discharge their fiduciary duty to Michigan taxpayers. There is no Board of Directors of a business that would tolerate a CEO who has a substance abuse problem, but fails to acknowledge it. Bottom Line: This drama will play-out in a few weeks. No Free Lunch. Pay the Severance and bid Sayronna, Wish You the Best, Good Luck, etc.

    Steve McKeen

    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

    Ford didn't seem to care when Elana Ford was busted for a DWI.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 6 a.m.

    Elmer I agree with you (see my comment below). You present this from a business/fiscal point of view which I find interesting. Thank you for sharing :-)


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:52 a.m.

    I would be more impressed if she recinded the tuition and room and board increases. She could coveer those with a donation. It cost a heck of a lot to send ours kids to EMU and this is the example set for them. Nearly 5% increase is crazy for those of us who have not had a raise in 5 or 6 years.

    Angry Moderate

    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

    You want her to cover a 5% tuition increase for thousands of students on her $300k salary?


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

    Donate her raise to charity? How swell! Drinks all around!


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 11:10 p.m.

    Liberals pay attention to the price of political correctness in action. ...what an embarrassment.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 9:58 p.m.

    Citation for DWI? I don't think so. When you are suspected of " Drunk Driving "., you are stopped, arrested, and transported to the Police Station or County Jail for a formal breathalizer exam. You are NOT given a citation or ticket. Courts and or juries can later find you guilty of a lesser charge, but the fact remains you were arrested for Drunk Driving.

    Angry Moderate

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 11:14 p.m.

    I can't believe is trying to downplay a DWI. They're not this nice to anyone else, e.g., during the holiday drunk driving crackdowns.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

    In the Regents letter it was stated that they had previous discussions with her on the same subject (drinking). She has never mentioned that. Her reference to "one time" is untrue. She also received a DUI and they stated in writing that they had spoken with her before on the subject. I note she's not denying it. I read denial over and over again in her statements.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

    Denial, yes, and don't forget the enabling. It's everywhere. That's why she'll keep her job, no matter what she does next.

    Deep Blue

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

    If Martin's salary information was FOIAd, why not FOIA other information to see what is being hid.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

    I'd like to know about the previous discussions the board had with her on the subject and if it's in her file.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

    I have briefly discussed this same issue with President Martin myself about a year ago and she was nothing but civil. This DC alum cum drinking buddy must have really pushed her buttons. The booze she drank probably didn't help any though. Or this thing may have a been a calculated ambush on his part, who knows? Bottom line: In this day and age you are "on stage" 24/7 so don't drink if you can't hold your liquor.

    Angry Moderate

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

    A DWI is not an infraction for which you get "cited", like a speeding ticket. It's a CRIME for which you get "arrested."

    Angry Moderate

    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

    Is there a reason hasn't made this correction? You respond to corrections in the comments all the time. "Citation" is not right--it's called a "conviction."


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 10 p.m.

    You are correct. You get arrested for Drunk Driving.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

    arrested or charged and convicted you can be arrested for many things -- you get charged with certain crimes and they have to prove guilt or you plead down


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

    Sounds like a GOOD PARTY at EMU: "$8,764, to the alcohol awareness education program at EMU. " Nothing like meeting and knowing the enemy!

    Geoff Larcom

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

    The latest salary figure in this story is incorrect. President Susan Martin currently earns a salary of $292,125. The figure of $309,915 is based on terms of her contract, but President Martin turned down a scheduled three percent salary increase last summer. In addition, she is donating her scheduled three percent salary increase this summer, $8,764, to the alcohol awareness education program at EMU. Note: Geoff Larcom is executive director of media relations at EMU.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:33 a.m.

    It's still 10 times what the clericals make. Probably five times the university average. Good for her, she makes a lot of money in a high-profile position. Should we care whether it's a hair north or south of $300,000? Most people will never touch that in their lifetimes.

    Kellie Woodhouse

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:01 p.m.

    Thanks Geoff. This is reflected in print.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

    Heard there was a former university president in Virginia that is looking for a job...


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:31 a.m.

    Theresa Sullivan wouldn't touch EMU. She has a very bright future.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

    What's good for the goose is good for the gander. If this is a mountain out a mole hill, the whole incident has a life of it's own and it's getting messy.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

    I'm very proud of President Martin for stepping up and doing this- you are the BEST!


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

    Don't know that it was stepping up when she comments about need alcohol awareness programs at EMU and making comments/comparisons to/about 18yr olds. That's more of a deflection!

    Michigan Man

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

    I thought AA stands for Alcoholics Anonymous? Why are the substance abuse/chemical dependency issues of Ms. Martin being discussed publically. Ms. Martin deserves privacy relative to her medical issues.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

    I agree with the previous reply. She is not a member of AA that we know. If she were, we wouldn't know unless she chose to make it public. In fact, she denies she has a problem with alcohol. President Martin made her problem with alcohol a public issue when at a public function, in her position as President of the University, she engaged in a heated altercation with an alum. She is said to have been observed drinking one glass of wine. A person with an alcohol problem, especially a high-functioning person, will often drink judiciously in front of others. The problem is that this person generally has several drinks before the function. I sincerely hope the counseling she receives is helpful. What happens during a counseling session is privileged information and cannot be disclosed under a FOIA request. I assume the person who made this comment was being sarcastic.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

    When did she join AA? Do you know something we don't? Her "mistake" occured in public while she was representing a public university. The reason the Detroit Free Press was able to FOIA the reprimand letter was because she is a public employee. Should anyone FOIA martin's private medical files that request would be denied.

    I'm Just Sayin

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

    At my institution if your position requires you to drive and you have had an infraction due to drunk/impaired driving they will not hire you. Perhaps her history driving while impaired in 2005 should have been given more consideration by the search committee to even invite her to interview. I suspect her agreement to counseling was to save her job.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:39 p.m.

    "I did make a mistake, even though it was only one." That sounds a bit insincere to me, kind of like a little kid saying "oh alright fine, I'm sorry" as they shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes. Besides, was the DWI citation not a mistake? Because 1 + 1 = 2. Seems like another mistake could be around the corner. Just saying...


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

    They should have hired Judge Shelton.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

    Agree as well. They missed a big opportunity to hire a clean up guy who bled green to start with. No way he would have been in this situation. The fact that the board knew there was a drinking problem with Martin on te front end is troubling. The school already had problems. Why add a big risk factor like this???


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

    Damage control. Too little, too late. Can't recover reputation at this point. For the good of the institution, changes must be made. This thing is hitting the national news circuit now, which is embarrassing and WILL IMPACT recruiting/retention. Reputational risk always present in these high level positions. When it happens, you have to have change.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 6:32 p.m.

    So the best way to deal with what many (like me) believe is a mass over reaction is to fire her? sorry - that is not the way things should be done I am not embarassed by this - I am embarassed this minor, internal incident could have effectively been handled in house went public - and I am embarassed this story has received so much play from ... and I personally feel for her having to submit to alcohol counseling because of so many posters (like you and others) continue to make a mountain out of a mole hill I received so many communications yesterday and all of them said the same thing "what is the big deal" or "stop piling on this lady for a minor misstep" not a single person, EMU or otherwise, that I spoke with or engaged with, said "fire her" or "wow, what a controversy" ... in my circles, this has been one HUGE over reaction on all parts to a minor issue between two parties that settled it quickly after and made peace -- they can make peace, but others cant? Finally - I am simply tired and bored reading post after post of arm chair QBbacking and superficial diagnoses of her acloholism - such as it is people reallt do like to hijack these topics to puch agendas (asnti drinking/driving) when it has nothing to do with the actual story


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

    I gave you a thumbs up to offset the negativity to your post. Your comments are true and accurate.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

    I look forward to making FOIA requests to determine what goes on at each counseling session.

    Stella W

    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

    President Martin has been a wonderful asset to EMU. Life on campus is far better than when I started as a freshman in 2008. She had a disagreement with an alum, at a place where there was alcohol. She apologized and let everyone know about it. Transparency goes a long way. Doesn't the conspiracy theory of life get a little tired?

    Rachel Barsch

    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 1:12 a.m.

    I agree on all counts, Stella. As a graduate student at EMU, I have felt an almost palpable stability since Dr. Martin has come on board. Although we don't know everything that the Board knows, from the little I have gleaned, this seems a bit overblown. I hope Dr. Martin stays . Oh, yeah, and GO! EMU football!


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 12:05 a.m.

    women gotta stick together, huh.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

    I don't think it's a conspiracy Stella. I just question why there a two sets of ethical standards. One for boards/presidents and another for football coaches (or any sport for that matter).


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

    unless there was a history of alcohol fueled problems with this woman this seems to be a over reaction. She was an adult who drank a little too much once and needs counseling and has to forfeit some money?


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

    Something just doesn't add up. There has to be some information that the Board has that would lead them to these measures that the general public does not. After what happened a few years back with the cover up of the murder on campus, EMU cannot afford to get another black eye. When Eastern is fighting for every enrollment dollar and state funding dollar in these trying times, problems like these absolutely cannot happen. If there was not a problem, Ms. Martin would not be ponying up 14K to help make things right. either that, or she ticked off the wrong powerful people with the university and they are taking advantage of an opportunity to pounce.


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

    Agree. There clearly were other incidents that created a pattern. If you have a problem and get busted driving, you need to put the bottle down for good. Didn't hap


    Wed, Jul 11, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

    A raise? We have the administration pushing huge health care increases on the clerical staff which amounts to a large pay cut and the pres. got a raise? Regardless of her good intentions of using the raise to a worthy cause, there is something wrong that she received a raise in the first place. By the way, I'm glad she agreed to receive counseling although I wonder how much choice she really had.


    Thu, Jul 12, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

    Yep, that amount would have given a 2% raise to almost 15 clerical workers at their usual salary range. Yet the university has offered them ZERO percent in its latest contract offer for year one. Great priorities! Go EMU! Pay the top people handsomely, spit on the rest.