CMU President George Ross urges state legislators to invest in students, families
Speaking to state legislators, Central Michigan University President George Ross encouraged them to invest in students and families seeking degrees.
Ross testified before the Michigan Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education Feb. 22 at the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing. Among the items Ross discussed were CMU funding efforts and an update on the university’s sexual misconduct, harassment and discrimination policies.
Ross expressed appreciation for Gov. Rick Snyder’s funding increase. CMU will receive about $87 million from the state, according to Snyder’s recommended budget for the upcoming fiscal year. CMU’s current state appropriations are $85 million.
Despite the increase, he noted Michigan has dropped 23 spots in per capita state fiscal support of higher education — from 20th in 2001 to 43rd today. He said average state support has dropped nearly half from what it was 17 years ago — falling from $10,000 to just under $5,400.
“We believe that if our Great Lakes state wants a shot at the next Amazon Headquarters 2-type project, we must fuel our economy by investing in students and families pursuing degrees,” Ross said.
Ross mentioned CMU’s financial support for students, saying students have been supported with more than $61 million in university-funded scholarships each year. He added that CMU distributes more than $300 million in private and federal funds.
About 85 percent of CMU students receive some form of financial assistance, Ross said.
Toward the end of his report, Ross provided an update on CMU’s sexual misconduct policies. Ross discussed these policies at the Feb. 15 board of trustees meeting at the request of the board in the wake of the Larry Nassar case.
“We at CMU are redoubling our efforts to be responsible, accountable and ultimately aware of what’s happening around us,” Ross said. “We are committed to equal educational and employment opportunities and to the elimination of all forms of prohibited discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.”
Three years ago, CMU was one of the first Michigan public universities to adopt a separate sexual misconduct policy applying to students, faculty and staff.
Ross reiterated that first-year and transfer students are required to complete an online training program before registering for the next semester’s courses. Faculty and staff are required to complete online training that promotes a harassment- and discrimination-free environment, Ross said. Student-athletes must complete a second training as required by the NCAA that is specific to athletics.
“Bottom line: We are serious,” Ross said of the policies. “We are actively engaged in keeping our campus safe.”
Ross highlighted some of the progresses the university made in the last year. He mentioned a December report that stated CMU’s statewide economic impact was at $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2016. He also said that all 62 physicians part of the College of Medicine’s first graduating class in May were placed in residencies.
Some student-athletes named in Ross’ report include former football quarterback Cooper Rush, a member of the Dallas Cowboys who graduated from CMU with a 3.89 GPA in actuarial science, and Reyna Frost, a junior forward on the women’s basketball team who wants to become an astronaut.
“That’s how we roll, with academic excellence, personalized learning, leadership opportunities, hands-on experiences, a strong sense of community and an extraordinary network of support,” Ross said.