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EDITORIAL: Board of Trustees needs more diversity


Central Michigan University Board of Trustees. 

After new appointments went into effect Jan. 1, there is one less woman on the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees.

Attorney Edward Plawecki and lawyer and businessman Todd Anson replaced Bill Kanine, who runs a certified public accountant firm, and Patricia Mooradian, who is president of The Henry Ford in Dearborn.

Chair Tricia Keith is Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Corporate Secretary at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. She is the sole woman on the seven-member board and her term is expiring next. 

There are no persons of color on the board.

We appreciate trustees' service. As members of CMU’s governing board they serve an important role. This editorial isn't a comment about them personally or how they are doing their jobs. But we would like to see change on the board.

Gov. Whitmer, as trustees term out in 2020, we would like to see two appointments that more accurately represent the diversity of our university.

This is what our campus looks like: Women made up 55 percent of total campus enrollment in 2017. Since 1980, women have represented the majority of on-campus students, as high as 60 percent in 2001. In Fall 2018, minority student enrollment made up 18.5 percent of the student population. According to an April 2019 report by Academic Planning and Analysis, the number of minority students on campus in Fall 2018 was 3,103: 1,713 African-American, 342 American Indian/Alaskan Native, 395 Asian/Pacific Islander and 653 Hispanic. 

CMU supports diversity, but the university has no say in who is appointed to its governing board. Gov. Whitmer, you do.

At CMU, trustees are appointed by Michigan's governor. Only University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University board of trustees members are elected by state voters. For public universities, people interested in a board position apply online. Those applications get sifted through many divisions before reaching the governor. The Appointments Division makes recommendations to the governor. 

To truly have the insight to govern our university properly, the Board of Trustees must more  accurately reflect our university. Who you appoint to the board to replace Keith and William Weideman, retired Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Dow Chemical Company, may help do that. You might even want to consider someone with a background in education. 

At the Feb. 1 Michigan Press Association annual convention in Grand Rapids, Whitmer talked about what qualifications she would consider before appointing an applicant to the board.  

“It’s about demanding answers to questions regarding student safety, to affordability, to ensuring that our universities are able to live up to our high expectations of delivering a great education,” she said. 

That sounds excellent. This October, when you appoint two new trustees, Gov. Whitmer, also take diversity into account. You are the only one who can do something about it.