Board of Trustees: University exceeds 2016 diversity goal
By 2020, University President George Ross wants to see a student body that’s 20 percent multicultural.
Given the demographic within this year’s freshman class, the university is on track to accomplish that goal sooner than Ross expected.
This year’s freshman class is 22 percent multicultural. In all, 5,398 minority students are enrolled at CMU.
That figure boosts the overall diversity on campus to 16 percent.
Ross emphasized not only was this year’s freshman class the most diverse, but one of the smartest, with the “highest mean ACT score” in university history at 23.1 — an increase from last year’s 22.9.
The goal of CMU, Ross said, is to “represent who we are as a state.”
“Unfortunately, I still run into people across the country who think multicultural increases means a university is lowering their standards,” Ross said. “Being diverse strengthens us as a university. You are going to work with people who don’t look or think like you. Our goal is to have a microcosm of that at CMU. This will prepare you better for when you leave.”
Overall on-campus enrollment, however, is down 2.5 percent as noted in the Sept. 21 Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting. Total CMU enrollment is also down 3.3 percent.
Steven Johnson, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, said he predicts Global Campus enrollment also will decrease from last year due to increasing competition with other university’s online programs.
Students taking classes through Global Campus account for 5 percent of CMU’s total enrollment.
“Some of the larger community colleges, which are significant pipelines (to the university), have suffered double digit losses,” Johnson said. “We are looking at alternative ways to attract (students) and remain competitive in our community college program.”
Ross and Board of Trustee Chair Sarah Opperman emphasized the importance of diversifying the amount of online courses offered, especially non-traditional students for whom a “four or five year program is not realistic.”
CMU is not just looking to improve its enrollment.
A financial risk assessment survey was presented before the board during Thursday’s meeting. CMU’s Enterprise Risk Committee, an internal organization comprised of faculty and staff members, is hoping to present a report by September 2017 outlining possible financial and physical risks the university could face.
Provost Michael Gealt said use of an external auditing company was never considered for the risk assessment as there is “all kinds of good information available through the Association of Governing Boards.”
According to the committee’s university webpage, the goal of the group is to identify risks that have the “potential to jeopardize the life and safety of individuals” or “threaten (university) assets, operations, reputation and legal interests.”
Vice President of Financial and Administrative Services and Co-Chair of the committee Barrie Wilkes said the group has identified the 10 “most significant risk categories.” These have been divided into subgroups to further identify potential niche risks.
Categories include academic affairs, board of governance, campus and facilities, compliance risk, research and creative endeavors and student affairs, among others.
The committee plans to share the document with individual groups identified in the assessment including Academic Senate, faculty, staff and the Student Government Association. When risks have been identified the groups will work together to identify the likelihood of the risk happening and how to react if one should occur.
Trustee Bill Weideman said he was impressed with the committee’s commitment to try and anticipate potential crisis situations.
“We can’t avoid risk. Risk is there,” he said. “The key is understanding the risks (the university faces) and mitigating it. This is an excellent start to an excellent process.”