Faculty, community react to hiring of new CMU President Robert Davies
Faculty, students and community members didn't know what to expect before today's introduction to the 15th president of Central Michigan University.
Though Dr. Robert Davies and his family only were able to spend a few hours on campus, faculty members and students said they are excited to get know them and look forward to working with him.
Newly-appointed Central Michigan University President Robert Davies has had a long, and expansive career as a higher education administrator.
In 2005, he received his Ph.D. in higher education administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Davies received a Higher Education Leadership certificate from the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University in 2007. He also attended Harvard’s Seminar for New Presidents in 2009 and returned in 2015 for Harvard’s Seminar for Senior Presidents.
Davies earned his M.B.A. in finance and marketing in 1991 from the University of Oregon and his B.S. in management at the University of Nevada in Reno in 1989.
These are some of his notable past work experiences:
· Most recently, Davies served as the president of Murray State University, where he began his tenure in 2014. In June, the university's board of regents voted to approve $7.6 million in budget cuts presented by Davies. The cuts were a result of statewide aid reduction and also included the suspension of several degree programs. To offset the budget cuts, a 3 percent increase in tuition, housing and dining plans was proposed. The board also voted to outsource its dining services.
· Davies first took the reins as a university president at Eastern Oregon University. His tenure began there in July 2009 and continued until June 2014. At Eastern Oregon he lobbied for an increase in state funding, implemented a strategic plan and led an aggressive comprehensive fundraising effort.
· At Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Davies served as the Vice President of University Relations from February 2006 until July 2009.
· Davies was the Associate Vice President and Executive Director at the University of Buffalo 2000-2006. He worked on alumni communication, and school fundraisers.
Faculty Association president Anthony Feig said faculty want to work with him and want him to get to know the educators and researchers of the university.
“CMU’s teaching and research excellence is driven by the faculty. We look forward to the president winning our minds and hearts with deeds and actions,” Feig said.
Many faculty were disappointed with the closed presidential search process, Feig noted, and the “confidential nature” of it.
“People expressed concern that there wasn’t ongoing forums and there wasn’t a short-list released prior to (the announcement),” Feig said.
During his time as president, Feig hopes Davies will “mix” with the faculty more than his predecessor.
“I’d like the president to visit a classroom – he can visit my classroom,” Feig said, who will be teaching geography during the fall semester. “I hope he gets his hands dirty with us. Take a visit to a lab, sit down and chat with us. Let's not maintain a distance between the faculty and the leadership.”
Union of Teaching Faculty President Scot Squires said the organization is looking forward to working with Davies.
“I know that people in Academic Senate were involved in the (search committee). They had the best interest of the faculty in the mind," Squires said. “We are pleased with who they came up with."
Squires hopes Davies will keep his focus on students and academics.
“I hope that he put students first (and) keeps tuition down for students, including fees,” he said. “I hope that he looks to integrate new programs, too.”
Student Government Association President Jake Hendricks is excited about a new president coming into power. In the first year, Hendricks wants to build a relationship between SGA and Davies.
"Building the relationship between the people who are running a university and the people who are attending is important," Hendricks said.
With CMU being a major presence in the small town of Mount Pleasant, Mayor Allison Quast-Lents hopes Davies will be continue to strengthen the bond between the university and the city.
“Most importantly, what I’m concerned about is somebody who really knows how to integrate with a community,” Quast-Lents said. “(That) is something that I heard in the conversations around the community — that we really wanted to make sure the next president of CMU is someone who understood that CMU is part of this greater Mount Pleasant community.”
During Davies’ tenure, Quast-Lents hopes he can work with not only city leaders but also with the surrounding municipalities like Isabella County and Union Township and community leaders like the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe.
“Just make sure that we’re working together. See what common goals we have so we can work together and try to figure out how we can bring the City of Mount Pleasant together with CMU," she said.
As faculty, students and community members expressed enthusiasm for Davies to begin his tenure as president, he said he is just as thrilled to begin his time at CMU.
“I am humbled, I am honored, to serve you as the 15th president at Central Michigan University,” Davies told a standing-room-only crowd on Friday in the Park Library Auditorium. “Everyday in our classrooms, in our facilities, in our labs, our dormitories — across our campus, we are indeed creating the future. And with that, we are indeed putting (our) stamp on the world.”