Board discusses effective programs, university funds at meeting

The Faculty Liaison committee of the Board of Trustees met Wednesday with a mixed agenda, both highlighting effective programs on campus as well as discussing recent concerns regarding the university's financial decisions.

When the audience was given the opportunity to ask questions, an inquiry arose regarding the $10 million of university funds spent on the Events Center, which was supposed to be privately funded.

University President George Ross, who was present in the audience, said decisions about the Events Center came before he began at CMU.

“It’s my understanding that the project was to be privately funded," he said. "When it comes to fundraising, there will always be estimates."

Trustee Brian Fannon said at the time of the vote, the board of trustees believed CMU could raise enough funds for the project. Regardless of whether or not it could, Fannon said he would have voted to renovate the former Rose Arena.

“It wasn’t touched since it was built in 1975," Fannon said.

With the Events Center now complete, many on the board expressed the belief that more donors will be willing to donate. More donations are also expected to come in for the new medical school, since it recently received its accreditation.

About $12.5 million has been raised so far for the medical school, which is about half of the university’s goal.

Trustees mentioned $14 million of university funds will be allocated for Anspach Hall renovations this summer. No substantial renovations have been made to the building since it was constructed.

"We will always invest in what is necessary for the university," said Provost Gary Shapiro.

Merlyn Mowrey, professor of philosophy and religion, gave a presentation about the Teaching and Learning Collective, a learning roots student initiative that aims to raise the academic standards at CMU.

Trustees raised questions about the anticipated 30 percent drop in enrollment over the next few decades, and the importance programs, like TLC, will have with fewer students.

Grand Rapids junior Ashley Page, who has participated in TLC events, accompanied Mowrey and spoke about her activity within the organization.

“Several students and I were inspired to create groups," to improve learning, Page said. “Instead of buying a degree, we wanted to help make it more about the learning.”

Steve Burglund, theater director and professor of communication and dramatic arts, presented the committee with information about the university theater program, and said CMU’s program is the best in the state, by far.

Berglund listed alumni, both notable and unknown, who have achieved success since graduating from CMU.

Shapiro said many of these positive aspects of the university are lost in the noise surrounding the negative, but these types of programs show the relevance of why we are all here.


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