Trustees discuss university enrollment in committee meetings
Committee estimates 5.1 percent budget decrease due to continuing enrollment decline
Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees met in committees April 10, which discussed the university's declining enrollment.
The formal meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. on April 11 in the President's Conference Room in the Bovee University Center.
Enterprise Risk Committee
The committee addressed the top two risks the university is facing: The decrease in enrollment and security regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Steve Johnson, vice president of Enrollment and Student Services, explained that the university must not attract just any students, but the right students.
“There are many means in which you can go out and drum up business, but we really want to be having conversations with the right people,” Johnson said.
He said that bringing these students onto campus early during the college search is a way to increase the chance of them attending. He shared the number one reason students choose another university over CMU is cost.
HIPAA privacy officer Karen Haskin updated the committee on improvements in CMU's HIPAA program, including a new training program, scheduling annual review processes for policies and having management in place to address breaches.
Academic and Student Affairs Committee
General Counsel Manuel Rupe discussed the importance of free speech and its role on CMU's campus.
“It’s at the core of what we do and the core of why we exist: Academic freedom and Freedom of Speech,” Rupe said.
The committee also discussed efforts to combat CMU's enrollment decline, including retention efforts and transfer agreements.
Academic advising will continue to improve by becoming a more proactive and mandatory involvement, said Provost Michael Gealt. Each student will be assigned a pre-major adviser until they have chosen a major, and then will be switched to a major adviser who will work closer with the program faculty.
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Dean Richard Rothaus presented the college’s new strategic plan emphasis for the 2019-20 school year, with a new budget committee for research funding and focusing on active learning formats.
Finance and Facilities Committee
The committee reviewed tuition and housing deposits on the budget development timeline.
Trustee William Weideman said there will be changes in all aspects of the budget due to the enrollment decrease. The board will vote on the undergraduate, graduate and College of Medicine tuition rates, as well as room and board and apartment rates at the formal meeting.
There will be an estimated 5.1 percent budget decrease next year due to enrollment. Funds will be added to marketing and recruitment for admissions as an effort to increase enrollment.
Phase I of the Residential Life Project will begin right after May graduation with the razing of Barnes Hall and routine updates to the remaining residential halls. The project has continued to remain within budget.
Trustee-Faculty Liaison Committee
Academic Senate chair Brad Swanson updated the committee on legislation the Senate has passed this semester, with a following discussion about the bachelor of applied arts degree, interdisciplinary programs and enrollment.
Swanson said CMU is missing a marketing opportunity with the BAA degree. It is an extremely rare degree in the U.S. – only two other schools have one like it.
President Robert Davies asked faculty how they felt about interdisciplinary programs. Swanson said the most difficult part for faculty is helping students plan their schedules when courses are coming from multiple departments.
The committee discussed possible recruitment efforts, since enrollment is decreasing. Trustee Robert Wardrop said CMU needs to get students to visit campus. Gealt suggested going to key recruiting areas like Lansing, Grand Rapids and Detroit to ask potential students how CMU can meet their needs.
“Once they see it, they feel totally different,” Wardrop said.
“I always ask students why they came to CMU, and a large portion say it was the visit that made a difference,” Swanson said. “But it’s not cheap to get them up here.”
Trustee-Student Liaison Committee
Trustee Michael Sandler said one of the primary aspirations of the board were to secure and work toward the overall safety, prosperity and goodness of the undergraduate experience.
Residence Hall Assembly director Mary St. John, a Tawas City junior, said discussions with her general assembly have led her to the final conclusion that students request further transparency regarding budget and student discipline.
She said while the recent history of CMU’s budgeting exists in public records available through CentralLink, she said she is continually encountering students with limited-to-no understanding how to directly search and comprehend these documents.
She said ultimately in order to expand transparency among campus, such knowledge regarding money should be not just accessible, but easily attainable and provided to enrolled students.
Board member Edward Plawecki said the board will consider creating infographics and visual devices to better clarify the information.