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Posted on Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

New Eastern Michigan University provost plans to bring stability to leadership role

By Kellie Woodhouse


Kim Schatzel at an Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents meeting.

Chris Asadian |

Early in her career, Kim Schatzel never expected to be an administrator in academia.

But 24 years after entering the workforce as a foreperson at a Ford Pinto manufacturing plant, that's where she ended up.

In January the businesswoman-turned-academic was named Eastern Michigan University's provost.

Schatzel's career path —which includes stints as the CEO of a multimillion dollar powder metal company, a stay-at-home mom and a top-level manager of an automobile parts manufacturer— is an unconventional one for the second-in-command of a large public university.

In fact, 55-year-old Schatzel didn't join academia until she was 43 and in just 12 years has risen from professor to business school dean at U-M Dearborn to provost of Eastern.

"It’s not common. It's a very rapid rise academically and administratively," said Daniel Little, chancellor of the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus. "One of the signatures of Kim's career is she's willing to take on challenges."

EMU President Susan Martin said it's Schatzel's background as a manager in the business world, rather than academia, that led Martin to select her former U-M Dearborn colleague as Eastern's second-in-command.

"She's very entrepreneurial in what she does, which in these troubled economic times is very helpful," Martin said. "She relates well to leaders in the business environment."

But if you ask Schatzel, the mother of two will tell you that while she likes gabbing it up with the business community, many of her favorite interactions are with students.

"It's taken adjustment for me to not be around students all the time," Schatzel said from her first-floor office in EMU's administration building. "It's a little but quieter here."

Yet it's from that first-floor office that Schatzel will make some significant changes that she hopes will elevate EMU's regional profile and put the school's students in a better position to successfully complete college.


Kim Schatzel

Among her priorities, she says, are to revamp the school's advising system, increase dwindling enrollment in its graduate programs and boost student graduation rates.

EMU's six-year graduation rate is 37.7 percent, the second-lowest rate in the state. That's got to change, Schatzel says.

“Our retention rate and our progress-to-degree rate for our students is not where we should be,” Schatzel said. “We have an obligation when we accept students to be able to support their degree in a timely manner. So where we are right now needs improvement.

''The quality of our education is terrific; we're just not doing as well as we can in terms of getting the students through our programs in an effective manner."

To ensure a higher graduation rate, Schatzel is looking to streamline the school's advising system. As it currently operates, students don't always have a consistent adviser to consult when choosing classes or picking a major. Advising practices vary by department or school, which has led to a large number of students falling through the cracks, faculty say.

"That’s been a concern for some of our students," Martin said of EMU's current advising setup. "We just need to do a better job of servicing our students once they apply here and enroll here."

Schatzel put it more bluntly: "I want advising to be purposeful. What we have is something that is what it is after so many years. It's kind of a legacy."

Schatzel also wants to improve EMU's reputation.

"I feel really strongly about regional public education," she said. "Nationally we produce the vast majority of college graduates and sometimes it seems like we don’t get the respect that we deserve or the recognition for doing that kind of thing."

Part of raising EMU's profile means increasing the exposure of EMU's graduate programs, most of which generate relatively little interest, Martin said.

"In this region we have so many people who need graduate certificates or graduate degrees," Martin said. "I think we just need to do a better job of making the public aware of our programs."

As a scholar, Schatzel studied marketing. Martin wants Schatzel to wield her expertise in marketing and relationships with the business community to lift EMU's regional prominence.

For her part, Schatzel says she plans to stick around and work toward an improved EMU.

"Students need stability. I'm the third or fourth provost in several years," Schatzel said. "I'm planning to stay here for a while because some of the challenges that we have aren't going to get fixed overnight."

Schatzel makes $275,000 per year, a 20 percent increase from her $218,400 salary at U-M Dearborn.

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



Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:25 a.m.

Given that this story is about EMU Provost, Dr. Kim Schatzel, it would seem fitting that the accompanying photos reflect as much. I'm sure you must have an appropriate photo without a U-M banner. Please use it.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

Nah, I think the UM-Deaborn is appropriate since she'll back there eventually. No one can endure the EMU Provost position. Too toxic.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Restore admissions requirements and academic standards to what they were 25 years ago and the graduation rate will soar. Only problem is you'll have far fewer students. EMU has had to vastly increase the number of foreign students to fill seats as it is. Why there's a shortage of truly qualified Michigan students is a whole 'nother topic.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

CORRECTION regarding Schatzel's salary: EMU pays 11% of her earnings (out of EMU's coffers) into her retirement account. Since 11% of $275,000 = $30,250, Schatzel's ACTUAL salary is $305,250. For that salary, EMU had better see an improvement in its graduation rate quite quickly.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 1:57 a.m.

It'll be interesting to see which EMU picks...federal money or state money. They don't have to graduate anybody to continue raking in the federal student loan money, which is why their current graduation rates hover in the low 30 percent range. If they want to have a chance at whatever scratch the governor might have for them, they have to start actually caring if people come out of the place with a degree, which comes with the added inconvenience of making sure they're qualified to be there to begin with. That'll put quite a damper on their recent, quite intensive, Wayne County recruiting activities. It would be interesting to learn the percentage of their income attributed to federal cash and the percentage made up of state funding.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:41 p.m.

Move EMU out of Ypsi. Change the school's name to something less EMU. And then maybe someone will graduate. U of M Alum 2011' ;D


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Eastern is not in dire financial straits!

Call Me

Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

Apparently not, with several new job postings, including the following, for EMU's outstanding athletics program? Position Title Assistant Director, Athletics Marketing Job Type Full-Time (Annual) Expected Hiring Rate or Range $52,389 - $57,900


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

Obviously not. But you'd never know it listening to Susan Martin wailing and lamenting over proposed reductions in state funding.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Despite "Ypsi/Vetran's cynicism, I DO believe that she has her finger on the pulse of the problem at EMU. So few are able financially or academically to graduate despite the excellence of most of the faculty and the programs there. Advising and financial aid are keys to this; it is fashionable to yell about administrative salaries, but if she can do anything about the aforementioned problems, she's worth every penny.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

Correction..."Because *now* they have to actually graduate people..."


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.

It's not cynicism, Lovaduck; it's an acknowledgment of reality. You are right about advising being important. Why do you think that the pitiful job EMU does at it hasn't been a concern until now? Because know they have to actually graduate people to keep their pipeline to state money open. It's because of "financial aid" that state universities can afford to pay ridiculous administrator salaries, regardless of abysmal graduation rates. It's also because of "financial aid" that they can charge ever-escalating tuition rates, and it's to secure larger portions of financial aid that they have stretched a four-year degree out to six or more years. It's no coincidence that this new found 'concern' about the quality of student advising and graduation rates comes immediately after the governor made public his intent to tie state funding to graduation rates. These realities don't reflect on the capabilities or qualifications of the faculty, but they speak directly to incompetent and arrogant administration and lax oversight.


Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

It's unfortunate the university is in such dire financial straits. For a woman of her qualifications to have to "settle" for a paltry $275,000 a year is a shame. I'm sure they'll find a way to elevate the position salary to $400K in no time. In the meantime, she'll have her hands full working on ways to convince people paying $300 per undergrad credit hour that they'll be lucky to complete their four-year degrees in six years. Gotta get that "six-year graduation rate" up.