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Eastern Michigan University Board Of Regents Elects James Smith As President

Amanda LeClaire

The Eastern Michigan University Board of Regents has named James Michael Smith of Northern State University as its 23rd president in a special meeting today.

Smith has a background as an higher education administrator, fundraiser, and education advocate with roles at South Dakota's Northern State, Bowling Green State University, Indiana University, and as teacher and public school administrator in Central and Southwestern Ohio.


Smith has been President of Northern State University in South Dakota since 2009 and holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from Miami University. 

Faculty and students at EMU have been critical of the closed presidential search used by the Board of Regents.  Regent Michelle Crumm says she met with faculty members this morning to discuss the new president. 
Speaking to the press, Smith addressed EMU’s other major controversy: a failed partnership with the Education Achievement Authority.  “Sometime you do things and they don’t work. And then you have to be bright enough to know when to exit.  Eastern has a history of being a great teacher education counseling institution and I will continue to give every ounce of my effort to make that happen.” 
Smith will take office in July.  Interim President Donald Loppnow will continue to lead EMU until then. 
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- Amanda LeClaire is an assignment reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News.  Contact her at 734.487.3363 or email her: aleclair@emich.edu.


More information on James' background and the selection process can be found here.

James M. Smith's Career Overview

  • Dr. James M. Smith is serving as the president of Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, having held the post since June 2009.
  • Building upon the tradition of excellence in international education at NSU, he collaborated with the University of Jinan, in Jinan, China, to develop the first and only Confucius Institute in the Dakotas. The Confucius Institute has a specific three-part focus dedicated to the teaching of Chinese language, culture, and business practices. In addition to the traditional start-up funding provided, he was able to gain local and regional support of nearly $500,000 to launch the initiative.
  • In 2012, under Smith’s leadership, NSU received a $15 million gift from the estate of Millicent Atkins, the largest gift in the university’s history.
  • Prior to accepting the presidency at NSU, he served beginning in 2006 as vice president for Economic Development at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. In that capacity, he helped forge relationships between public higher education and economic development, and helped lead the university through strategic planning while maintaining academic excellence.
  • Prior to his vice presidential appointment at BGSU, he served as dean of BGSU Firelands, the only regional campus of the university.
  • Prior to joining the senior administrative team at BGSU, served as dean of the School of Education at Indiana University South Bend. As dean, he was charged with leading the largest degree-granting unit on the South Bend campus – nearly 1,300 majors and 100 faculty members were part of the School of Education.
  • Has also served in administrative capacities at West Texas A&M University and Butler University in Indianapolis. In 1994, he received the West Texas A&M University Distinguished Teaching Award, presented as a result of a grass-roots campaign undertaken by his graduate students from the main university campus in Canyon, Texas, and the extension center in Amarillo, Texas.
  • Prior to entering university administration, he was a public school administrator and teacher in central and southwestern Ohio. His research and teaching interests have focused on school reform, school reorganization, and the negative impacts of high stakes testing for at- risk youth.
  • He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as well as a bachelor’s of science from Miami. He earned his master’s of science from Xavier University in Cincinnati.


Patrik is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and functions as the New Media/Social Media manager for 89.1 WEMU.
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