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Board of Trustees approve of $428 million operating budget for 2020-21 academic year

The present trustees and administrators stay social distanced and wear their masks during the Webex Board of Trustees formal session on June 25.

Central Michigan University's Board of Trustees approved the proposed $428 million operating budget, a decline from the previous year's $461 million, during their formal session on June 25.

That's a $33 million decrease from the previous year, due to enrollment decline and affects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central Michigan Universities total budgeted expenditures as presented during the Board of Trustees meeting on June 25. Screenshot taken from virtual meeting

Barrie Wilkes, vice president of finance and administrative services, presented a budget revenue for the upcoming school year. The projected budget estimates that tuition makes up more than half of CMU's operating revenue.

"When we look at our totaled budgeted revenue... we are very tuition dependent and it's incumbent on the university to diversify our revenue sources," Wilkes said. 

Central Michigan Universities total budgeted expenditures as presented during the Board of Trustees meeting on June 25. Screenshot taken from virtual meeting

The total budgeted expenditures for the 2020 academic year is comprised primarily of faculty and staff salaries and benefits.  

"Similar to most higher ed institutions, the bulk of our budget is compensation," Wilkes said. "About 61 percent of our current budget is compensation."

Due to enrollment decline, departments and academic colleges were asked to make budget cuts.

"One thing I want to stress is that, reductions were not made across the board," Wilkes said. "The President did identify areas that needed to be protected; the obvious one is admissions."

According to Wilkes, the university is facing many unknowns concerned next year. Enrollment, state appropriations, federal relief funding, course structure and safety precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic are just some of those concerns.

Throughout the budget cuts,  President Bob Davies did mention layoffs and job eliminations. When asked how many positions were eliminated he said budget reductions are still being implemented and it would be "premature to talk about what the specific numbers are."

When asked, Davies said he anticipated an estimated 15 percent cut to the subsidy to the Athletics Department, the university’s largest non-academic subsidy. That could mean a $3 million reduction. 

In the 2019-20 budget, Athletics earned $7.8 million in revenue and also received $22.2 million from the university subsidy. 

In May, men's indoor and outdoor track and field was eliminated as part of university-wide budget cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was expected to save $300,000 this year and $600,000 in long-term savings.

In addition to budget cuts and COVID-19 concerns, Davies and the trustees approved of a "resolution affirming CMU's commitment to social justice and equity."

"With all of the efforts that are going on and all that is being done, is just not enough and substantial work remains ahead of us," Davies said. "We are going to talk about it open and often. We must be transparent in addressing our challenges so that we can be effective in finding our solutions."

Davies said that he has been listening to the concerns and point of views shared with him by students, faculty, staff and community members to help the university improve.

A public comment was submitted by senior Anthony Wilson addressing the comments of former CMU President Judson Foust. Wilson asked the trustees and Davies to consider changing the name of Foust Hall, ideally after Cecil Rice "who paved the way to help make CMU more inclusive." 

"Central is searching for answers on how to reconcile barriers and it's history of racism," Wilson's statement said. "We should start by renaming buildings that were named after figures who stood against change and positive growth."

Former Student Body Vice President Gene Ragland returned to campus in 2019 to tell the story of how he, Rice and CM Life helped expose housing discrimination in 1965. 

Wilson has created a petition to get the hall renamed by the end of the fall semester. 

Davies ended the meeting with final words about what the university can do to move forward and facilitated a moment of silence.

"Many times, we end the meeting and we run out and do our good deeds and socialize and go back to work in kind of a rush," Davies said. "What I would like to do is just have a brief moment of reflection before we run out just to think about how we can make a positive impact, how we can have our intent and our impact guided together. Take this moment of reflection and silence in honor of the victims of racism and discrimination and how can move forward." 

Other business: 

• Trustees approved of increasing parking meter prices from 25 cents to 50 cents per hour, increases ticket fines by $5 and late fees by $10 to be in accordance with the city of Mount Pleasant fees.

• A new meal plan option for incoming freshman was approved. No other information was given.

• Provost Mary Schutten discussed precautions for beginning on-campus learning, including a symptom tracking app that will be available by the beginning of the fall semester.