Audit report for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, faculty concerns highlights of first Board of Trustees meeting
President George Ross began the first Board of Trustees meeting of the 2017-2018 year by recognizing the university’s 125th anniversary as well as the progress of the updated Academic Strategic Plan.
“I am pleased and I am proud to say that many faculty and staff across campus are becoming actively engaged in the review of our academic structure and organization,” Ross said.
The 2017-2022 plan, “Academic Excellence”, includes three imperatives: nurturing student success, fostering scholarly activity and strengthening partnerships in Michigan and beyond.
During the meeting, representative Katie Thornton from the university's external audit firm, Plante Moran, gave the audit report for the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
"2017 was very positive and it does demonstrate that Central Michigan University is financially sound," Thornton said.
The presentation showed increases and decreases throughout different entities of the university.
- The net position increased $55.6 million to a total of $667.8 million.
- $50.8 million increase in assets and deferred outflows
- $4.8 million decrease to total liabilities and deferred inflows
- $0.5 million decrease in operating revenue
- $25.6 million increase in operating expenses
- $73.3 million increase in non-operating and other revenue
For operating revenues, tuition and fees took priority with a majority of 66 percent, with auxiliary enterprises and departmental activities following.
As for expenses, instruction took the highest with 33 percent, where auxiliary enterprises and academic support followed.
As committees are in-process of working on the updated strategic plan, this topic sparked public comment from faculty members.
Mary Senter, academic senator and faculty member of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, spoke on a topic that came up in last week’s Academic Senate meeting.
Senter’s concern was the academic reorganization that was added into the strategic plan without discussion with faculty members.
She said she felt the process of reorganization lacks rationale, undermines CMU's commitment to shared governance, is fiscally irresponsible and creates a conflict of interest.
Explaining why it is fiscally irresponsible, Senter pointed out the study of reorganization “must cost” a half a million dollars with employing a committee chair for two years. She noted the conflict of interest being that a dean—College of Science and Engineering Dean Ian Davison is on the strategic planning committee—making decisions that will affect college deans in specific.
She noted the way colleges and departments are organized govern faculty’s careers, day-to-day lives and what they teach.
“Adding that (reorganization process) without any campus discussion, without any awareness among faculty that this was coming, it really felt like a suckerpunch. It just felt very disrespectful,” Senter said.
Susan Grettenberger, director of the Social Work program, also spoke out to the board with an emphasis of concern reorganization being added to the plan, and whether it would be helpful for the success of students or not.
“I’m hoping the Board of Trustees will clarify fairly soon what your rationale and goals were in asking for the restructuring, so we the faculty can be involved as effectively as possible,” Grettenberger said.
Follow up meeting with Central Michigan Life, Ross addressed those concerns, saying it was not driven by the budget and there will be a time for open forum and feedback in the Academic Senate. He said he will be disappointed if faculty, staff and students don’t actively participate in the discussion regarding the academic reorganizing.